After outlining two features of the work of sexual assault forensic examiners (SAFEs) in caring for sexual assault victims, this brief reports the results from qualitative interviews with 64 healthcare professionals who participated in SAFE training.
The two approaches to care by SAFEs serving victims of sexual assault are labeled 1) a patient-centered orientation and 2) a prosecutorial orientation. The patient-centered orientation, advocated by the author, focuses on addressing the emotional needs of the victim/patient, offering options and respecting survivors’ decisions. In the prosecutorial orientation, the focus is evidence collection for the investigation and prosecution of the case, an orientation associated with fewer comprehensive services for the survivor. Results from qualitative interviews with 64 healthcare professionals who participated in SAFE training indicated that several elements of the training influenced participants to shift toward a patient-centered orientation. Such training would address helping survivors feel safe; restoring their sense of control; interacting with them in a non- judgmental manner; and emphasizing that patient-centered care facilitates patient understanding of and cooperation in obtaining medical forensic evidence.