National Indian Country Clearinghouse on Sexual Assault

Sex Assault Nurse Examiners

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Sexual Assault Nurse Examiners (SANE) are specially-trained, registered nurses who have completed education in order to properly examine a patient who has experienced sexual assault or sexual abuse.

A SANE is an important part of a Sexual Assault Response Team (SART), a group of professionals from different areas that collaborate together to develop a plan of care for sexual assault victims.

One of the most significant contributions SANEs make to a victim’s care is the Sexual Assault Forensic Examination (SAFE). During this exam, the SANE performs a detailed

physical and emotional assessment the victim, produces written and photographic documentation of injuries, collects and manages forensic samples, and provides the victim with emotional and social support and resources. At the end of the day, the results of the SAFE examination can be some of the most influential evidence supporting the sexual assault victim’s version of events.


Accordingly, SANEs often testify at trial, describing the results of the SAFE examination or explaining their observations about the victim.  The fact SANEs can testify at trial should not discourage victims from seeking their services.  Without an appropriate court process (i.e., a court order, subpoena, or a discovery request), SANEs must keep the results of their exams and the identity of the victim strictly confidential.

Because they play such a critical role in responding to sexual assault and in prosecuting sexual assault crimes, it is not easy to become a SANE.  First, to become a SANE, a person must first be a registered nurse.  Nurses with experience in emergency rooms, critical care, and maternal health issues are preferred, because they often have the skillset to address issues associated with sexual assault.  Also, if a Nurse wishes to become a SANE, that nurse should inquire about the requirements in her jurisdiction; the requirements are not standardized. 


Requirements vary significantly, and each state, province, or country Board of Nursing/College of Nursing may have different requirements for SANE practice.



Nurses who have obtained SANE training can take board certification examination through the International Association of Forensic Nurses (IAFN), the premier governing body of SANEs .


The (SANE-A) or pediatric (SANE-P) board certification tests are for SANE caring for the specific populations of adult/adolescent patients or pediatric patients. The eligibility requirements for board certification include: the completion of a forty hour classroom training and the successful completion of a clinical component to that training to ensure that she is competent to care for sexual assault patients.


Protocols - 6

Additional Resources - 11


Full Publication List




Featured Publications


A National Protocol for Sexual Assault Medical Forensic Examinations - Adult/Adolescents


A National Protocol for SANE


The Second Edition of the National Protocol for Sexual Assault Medical Forensic Examinations, published by the Department of Justice's Office on Violence Against Women, offers guidance to jurisdictions in creating and implementing their own sexual assault nurse examiner protocols, as well as recommending specific procedures related to the exam process. This edition, published in April 2013, provides an updated version of previous protocol in existence.



Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner (SANE) Development & Operation Guide (1999)


Development & Operation Guide


This document provides an effective model for sexual assault medical evidentiary exams and offers a multidisciplinary, victim-centered way of responding to sexual assault victims by outlining specific steps to replicate "best practices" for improving the response to victims.



The Role of the Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner


The Role of the Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner


This summary, funded by a grant from the Department of Justice's Office of Violence Against Women, discusses the role of sexual assault nurse examiners in prosecuting domestic violence and sexual assault.

National Indian Country Clearinghouse on Sexual Assault, a project by the Southwest Center for Law and Policy © 2013

This project was supported by  Grant No. 2011-TA-AX-K045 awarded by the Office on Violence Against Women. Points of view in this document are those of the author and do not necessary represent the official position of the U.S. Department of Justice. All rights reserved. | Privacy policy