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Providing medical treatment and support for victims of intimate partner violence

“Sometimes relationships get complicated, and people find themselves in a situation that has become violent and seems out of control. They have been harmed by an intimate partner and wonder where to go for help.” – Julie Clatworthy

November is Domestic Violence Awareness Month.

Domestic violence, also known as intimate partner violence, is when one person in a relationship tries to dominate and/or control the other person through actual or threatened physical, sexual, psychological, emotional or financial abuse. This type of violence can happen to people of any gender, race, culture, and age.

Emergency departments throughout the province are here to care for people who have been harmed, including by intimate partner violence.

“When someone takes step to seek help, we want to provide a safe space,” says Chad Chapman, Acting Director of Patient Services for Adult Emergency at HSC Winnipeg. “Emergency departments have the ability to provide appropriate medical treatment and assist people with getting the individualized and holistic care they need.”

A photo of the SANE team
The SANE team at HSC Winnipeg (photo taken before COVID-19)

At Health Sciences Centre Winnipeg (HSC), patients have access to a Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner (SANE) – a registered nurse with additional education and clinical preparation to provide forensic medical care for those who have experienced sexual assault or intimate partner violence. At other facilities across the province, access to the supports offered through the SANE program through consultation with the specialized staff at HSC.

Julie, is an HSC SANE nurse. “We’re here to help,” Julie notes. “We provide medical care and let people know the options available so they can make choices that are best for them. They are free to choose the supports they need.”

SANE nurses at HSC provide specialized treatment and support for those who have been recently assaulted by a current or former intimate partner (sexually and/or physically). They also provide consultation support to other emergency departments across the province.

These services remain open during the pandemic, and a support person is welcome to stay with a patient seeking treatment as a result of intimate partner violence. Our facilities are safe, with infection control measures in place to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Everyone is met at the door by staff who will ask some initial questions, provide a mask, and ensure a safe place to wait for treatment.

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