Baptist Health Hardin chalks the walk to raise awareness about sexual assault

Baptist Health Hardin. April 22, 2024

ELIZABETHTOWN, KY (April 22, 2024) – Baptist Health Hardin’s Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner (SANE)/Forensic program chalked the walk today, as staff – and even a few patients and visitors – gathered to write messages of inspiration on the hospital’s sidewalk. 

Chalk the Walk is an event to raise awareness of sexual assault. It is held as part of Sexual Assault Awareness Month, which is observed every April. Baptist Health Hardin’s SANE/Forensic program has held Chalk the Walk every year since 2020. 

“We want to spread awareness to the community, encouraging survivors to come forward,” said SANE/Forensic program director Kristina Tapio. “We want to send the message that we see you, we hear you, and we believe you. Survivors should never be ashamed to tell their story. Surviving is a lifelong journey; it is never too late to begin that healing.” 

The impacts of sexual violence

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) defines sexual violence as, “…sexual activity when consent is not obtained or freely given” (CDC, 2024). Sexual violence is not only common – with over half of women and nearly one third of men experiencing it in their lifetime – but it also carries significant and lifelong implications for health and well-being of those affected by it. 

While some impacts of sexual violence are visible, like bruising, pregnancy, and sexually transmitted infections, some impacts are not as easily seen. Post-traumatic stress disorder, depression, or suicidal ideations can follow sexual violence. Survivors are also more likely to engage in high-risk behaviors such as smoking, alcohol or drug use, or promiscuous activity. Additionally, emotional impacts may include a person’s job performance or ability to work, engaging in relationships, or continuing to perform routine, everyday activities (CDC, 2024).

Anyone can be affected by sexual violence or inflict sexual violence on another person. Often, the perpetrator is someone familiar to the person they are targeting with violence. This may be a domestic partner, spouse, friend, co-worker, neighbor or even a family member (CDC, 2024).

What is the SANE/Forensic program?

A SANE, or a sexual assault nurse examiner, is a registered nurse specially trained in the forensic examination of adults, adolescents or pediatric patients who have been the victims of sexual assault. In addition to providing medical assessment and treatment, SANEs also collect and preserve time-sensitive evidence and must be prepared to testify in legal proceedings. 

The Baptist Health Hardin SANE program began at the former Hardin Memorial Health in 2012 with on-call services. The program has grown from seeing 35 patients in the first year to delivering care for nearly 600 patients annually.

Since its inception, the program has expanded from treating adult and adolescent victims of sexual assault to also treating pediatric patients. Further expansion of services includes domestic violence, child physical abuse, human trafficking, and elder abuse. 

As of April 2024, Baptist Health Hardin is one of 15 SANE-Ready hospitals in Kentucky.

“The SANE/Forensic program is here 24/7 for those who have experienced sexual assault and domestic violence,” said Tapio. As a community, we must take a stand for the prevention of violence by raising awareness and letting our voices be heard. We must proclaim that our community will not tolerate violence.”

If you or someone you know is or has been impacted by sexual violence, contact the SANE/Forensic office at 270.979.7233 for resources or more information. For all emergencies, visit the nearest emergency department. 

* About Sexual Violence | Sexual Violence Prevention | CDC