By Casey Peacock: PNT Staff Writer
Sexual assault reports in Roosevelt County have remained constant over the year, unlike Curry County were a recent spike has been noticed say authorities.
“Curry County is seeing the spike and Roosevelt County has remained consistent,” said Amber Hamilton, 9th Judicial District SANE (Sexual Assault Nurse Examiners) administrator.
To date, their have been 16 reported rape cases since January 1, said Hamilton. Seven were under the age of 17 and nine were over the age of 18, said Hamilton.
In Curry County there were 13 exams conducted by SANE nurses in July and August alone. Prior to that the county had logged just 12 in the first six months.
According to a recent Clovis News Journal story the numbers reported by SANE were also considerably more than those reported to law enforcement.
Hamilton says that isn’t unusual. While her group doesn’t pressure victims to make a report, SANE nurses encourage victims to have an exam done so evidence can be preserved if they feel comfortable coming forward later,” she said.
According to Hamilton over 40 percent of assaults that occur happen in the victim or perpetrator’s home and many of the victims know their attacker in some way. They may be an acquaintance or someone who has crossed their path at one time or another, she said.
“Rape is a crime of power and control, said Hamilton. “It is the most unreported of the violent crimes.”
Out of fear and shame, many victims do not report their attacks, said Hamilton. Many victims may not know that services are available to them or are afraid that they will have to pay for them. Another factor that is common is the worry of, “who will know”, said Hamilton.
“Our services are provided free and confidential,” said Hamilton.
Nurses are on call 24 hours, seven days a week. Victim’s advocates from the district attorney’s office are also on call to provide support for the victims and help them once they leave the SANE office, said Hamilton. She says her office is a resource available to the victims to help them with other services that a victim may need.
“A victim’s advocate is a good liaison for the victim, said Hamilton.
They’re needed in this county.”
Victims are examined in a safe environment, said Hamilton. There are locks on the office door and examination room doors, said Hamilton. All of the victim’s charts are also kept under lock and key at the facility, and the charts never enter the hospital system, said Hamilton.
“They are never in a compromising situation,” said Hamilton.
State of the art technology has allowed the SANE program to provide better evidence that can be delivered to the proper authorities, said Tawnya Burton, Roosevelt County Clinical Coordinator. The camera that is used in exams is able to see more things in detail, such as bruising, and intricate tears, said Burton.
“This is beneficial for the juries to see that kind of evidence,” said Burton.
Another benefit to the SANE program is establishing an administrative position, said Burton.This allows the coordinators to focus on the victims instead of the administrative details, said Burton.
“The administrative position is really going to unify our counties under the 9th Judicial district,” said Burton.