Congress Moves to Address Critical Shortage of Sexual Assault Nurse Examiners; RAINN partners on bipartisan legislation

Washington, D.C. - RAINN has partnered with a bipartisan group of Members of Congress - led by Senator John Cornyn (R-TX), Senator Richard Durbin (D-IL), Representative David Joyce (R-OH), and Representative Deborah Ross (D-NC) - to introduce the Supporting Survivors Access to Nurse Exams (SANE) Act to help increase the number of sexual assault nurse examiners across the nation.

“The SANE Act will address a vital issue for survivors of sexual assault in the U.S.,” said Camille Cooper, vice president of public policy for RAINN. “This bill will ensure that survivors not only get the medical attention they need but also the opportunity to effectively seek justice, if they decide to do so, through the proper collection of evidence. We thank Sens. Cornyn and Durbin and Reps. Joyce and Ross for their leadership in addressing this issue.”

Across the United States, there is an extreme shortage of sexual assault nurse examiners, or SANEs. Survivors in almost all rural communities in the U.S. must travel hours to access a SANE after being assaulted. In Alaska, some survivors report that they must take two airplanes and travel 15 hours to access a SANE.

According to the International Association of Forensic Nurses, only 17-20% of American hospitals have SANEs on staff. In 2020, NBC News analyzed all 50 states and the District of Columbia and found a lack of funding and support for these essential first responders. This analysis also concluded that exams were less likely to be available in rural areas, but even urban hospitals had difficulty keeping a SANE on call 24/7.

Sexual assault nurse examiners are registered nurses who are often the first person a survivor sees after an assault. Due to the complexity of injuries and trauma experienced by survivors, these nurses have received special training in order to provide comprehensive, trauma-informed care. In addition, these nurses are trained to conduct forensic exams, collect DNA evidence for rape kits, and provide expert testimony in court for sexual assault cases.

The Supporting Survivors Access to Nurse Exams Act:

  • Provides $30 million in federal grant funding for SANE salaries for rural, tribal, and underserved communities.
  • Establishes regional training centers to provide critical clinical experience for SANEs before they are sent into rural areas.
  • Provides funding to increase availability for pediatric nurses.
  • Provides funding for mobile SANE units.

The Senate bill was included in the recently introduced in the RAINN-supported Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act.



RAINN, the nation's largest anti-sexual violence organization, created and operates the National Sexual Assault Hotline. RAINN also carries out programs to prevent sexual violence, help survivors, help organizations improve their sexual assault prevention and response programs, and ensure that perpetrators are brought to justice. If you or someone you know has experienced sexual violence, free, confidential help is available 24/7 by calling 800.656.HOPE (4673) or visiting

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