R.I. Delegation secures $599,966 to expand services for survivors of sexual assault

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WLNE)- U.S. Senators Jack Reed and Sheldon Whitehouse along with Congressmen Jim Langevin and David Cicilline announced that they have secured $599,966  from the Department of Justice to establish Rhode Island’s first SAFE “Sexual Assault Forensic Examiner” program.

The funding will go to Rhode Island Hospital where the program will be established. It will enable Rhode Island Hospital to provide access to quality, trauma-informed medical and forensic care for survivors of sexual assault. The funding will also go to supporting community resources that prioritize healing and justice.

Resources will be developed based on the National Protocol for Sexual Assault Medical Forensic Examinations.

Training specific for RI victims will be developed by local rape crisis advocacy groups and other local experts, the RI Attorney Generals Office, law enforcement, and clinicians focused on mitigating trauma.

“It is absolutely critical that victims of sexual assault receive proper treatment, support, and follow-up care. This federal funding will help Rhode Island launch a SAFE program so that highly-trained sexual assault forensic examiners can deliver a range of vital, professionalized services. It will ensure evidence is properly collected and analyzed, thereby reducing trauma for the victim and strengthening the state’s capacity to effectively prosecute cases,” said Senator Jack Reed.

“In partnership with law enforcement and community organizations, Lifespan is building a new program to provide comprehensive support to survivors of sexual assault. This federal funding will help survivors get the compassionate care and access to justice they need to heal,” said Senator Sheldon Whitehouse, a senior member of the Senate Judiciary Committee and former Rhode Island Attorney General.

“This federal funding will enable Rhode Island to substantially expand and improve access to quality care for survivors of sexual assault, and make sure that they have every resource they need to properly heal, recover, and pursue justice following such a heinous crime,” said Rep. Jim Langevin. “I’m proud to deliver this critical funding alongside my colleagues so that no survivor of sexual assault goes without the necessary trauma-informed resources and services.”

“Every survivor of sexual assault should feel supported throughout their healing process and ensuring access to trauma-informed care is an integral part of this,” said Congressman David Cicilline. “RI SAFE is a much-needed program that will help survivors get the care and justice they need and deserve.”

“Lifespan is pleased to lead the effort to bring the first sexual assault forensic examiner (SAFE) program to Rhode Island and provide access to quality, trauma-informed medical and forensic care for sexual assault survivors,” said Lifespan Executive Vice President and Chief Nursing Executive Cathy Duquette, PhD, RN. “This program will lay the foundation for a system of community supports for survivors and a coordinated statewide response that promotes healing and justice.”

The grant will be used to establish a mobile, SAFE program in coordination with the Rhode Island Hospital, Hasbro Children’s Hospital, Miriam Hospital and Newport Hospital and is expected to serve close to 200 patients a year.

Once fully established, an expert SAFE Director, Educator, and Coordinator will be hired to support the program. A quality assurance system will be developed for patient confidentiality.


Categories: News, Providence, Regional News, Rhode Island