The statistics are sobering…nearly one in six women will be sexually assaulted in her lifetime (one in 33 men). Nearly 700 forcible rapes were reported in Nebraska in 2011, up 6% from 2010. Sadly, hundreds of additional cases go unreported.
Wednesday of this past week, January 30th, was the 11th anniversary of the day that Heidi Wilke was attacked, robbed and raped following a business meeting in Downtown Omaha.
Heidi vowed first to survive her rape and then to help others. Heidi and her husband Jeff, acutely aware of the special needs of sexual assault victims, helped to establish the Heidi Wilke SANE/SART Survivor Program at Methodist Hospital.
SANE/SART stands for Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner (SANE) and a Sexual Assault Response Team (SART) and was the first such program in the area. The Sexual Assault Response Team consists of a SANE, a physician, a victim advocate, a law enforcement officer and others as needed.
The Heidi Wilke SANE/SART Survivor Program is specially designed and equipped to provide care, comfort and dignity for victims of sexual assault.
So, on January 30th, I stopped by Methodist Hospital to learn more about the program. Chelsea, an ER nurse, provided me a brief tour of the SANE/SART exam and consultation rooms that adjoin the emergency department. I asked how often the facility is used and Chelsea said about 100 times during the year. “We’ve had as many as 26 in a month”, she said.
The SANE/SART facility is stocked with clothing, as all clothing worn by the person assaulted is retained by the police as possible evidence.
On my visit to Methodist Hospital, I also spoke with RyAnne Hastings, the Director of Development for the Methodist Hospital Foundation. RyAnne told me that the new Methodist Women’s Hospital in west Omaha also includes a Heidi Wilke SANE/SART Survivor Program.
This week’s gift is in tribute to Heidi Wilke…who is a true survivor and inspiration. As her husband (and my great friend) Jeff said on the 11th anniversary, “With the help of many, the Heidi Wilke SANE/SART Survivor Program came from her courage to survive.”
To learn more about the program, go to this website: