Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner (SANE) Program

Get support after a recent sexualized violence

The basics

Who is the SANE program for?

Anyone who has experienced sexualized violence in the past seven days. We welcome people of all genders and ages.

How can it help me?

You can get two types of support:

  1. Medical assessment. A nurse will care for your physical needs. For example, they may treat injuries and test for pregnancy.
  2. Forensic assessment. A nurse can collect evidence of the sexualized violence for you. You can decide what happens to it.

You can choose to:

  • Not do an assessment.
  • Do the medical assessment only.
  • Do the medical assessment and the forensic assessment at the same time.

You have the freedom to:

  • Stop an assessment at any time.
  • Say “no” to some parts and “yes” to others.
  • Choose whether to report the sexualized violence to the police or not.

Where is it?

Avalon can connect you with a SANE nurse at four locations in the Halifax region:

  • QEll Health Centre
  • Dartmouth General Hospital
  • Cobequid Health Centre
  • IWK Health Centre

For other locations across Nova Scotia, please visit the Nova Scotia Health website.

How do I access the service?

Call (902) 425-0122 to speak directly to a SANE nurse in the Halifax region. Our response line is free, confidential and always open.

The details

Someone who understands
Our nurses specialize in helping survivors. They know you may feel confused, anxious and traumatized. They’ll explain everything with patience, compassion and respect.

No judgement
What happened to you wasn’t your fault. No-one ever deserves sexualized violence. We believe you and we’ll never judge or blame you.

Support for all
The SANE program welcomes people of all ages, genders, sexual orientations, races, ethnicities and abilities. We’re inclusive and culturally sensitive.

A nurse will ask if you’d like them to:

  • Treat any injuries.
  • Test for pregnancy.
  • Give you emergency contraception to stop pregnancy.
  • Test for sexually transmitted infections and treat them.
  • Do an internal physical exam (of your vagina or rectum for example.)
  • Help you find other medical care if you need it.

It’s ok to say “no” to any part of the assessment. And you can stop it at any time.

It’ll be more difficult to collect forensic evidence if you:

  • Shower or bathe
  • Douche
  • Use the washroom
  • Change clothes
  • Eat or drink
  • Brush your teeth

You can choose to do any of these things if you need to. We encourage you to take care of your health and wellbeing.

A nurse will collect evidence if you do a forensic assessment. You can decide what happens to the evidence.

You can ask us to:

  1. Give the evidence to the police. We can do this if you decide to report the sexualized violence to the police. The evidence can then be used in a court of law.
  2. Store the evidence for up to six months. We can do this if you’re not sure about reporting the sexualized violence to the police.

Our legal advocacy program can help you decide if you’d like to report to the police.

Our SANE nurses and other emergency room staff will help with your assessment. The police don’t need to be there. You’re welcome to bring someone along to support you.

We try to see everyone as quickly as possible. SANE responds to all individuals who report recent sexualized violence within one hour.

If you haven’t started puberty you’ll get an assessment within three days of the sexualized violence.

Everyone else will get an assessment within seven days of the sexualized violence.

Use the following contacts for immediate support:

Avalon also provides: