Mom Prom: Get dressed up for a good cause

Friday, August 4, 2017
Queen of the Mom Prom, Sara Ross, poses with court during the 2014 Mom Prom.
GCDW file photo

The annual Mom Prom is seeking local women who want to get dolled up for a night of fun for a good cause.

The Sexual Assault Response Team (SART) is selling tickets for the seventh annual Mom Prom, with proceeds going to help train and maintain Sexual Assault Nurse Examiners (SANE) at Greene County General Hospital.

Victim’s Advocate Vickie Aydt, with the Greene County Prosecutor’s Office, said the Mom Prom is one of only two fundraisers each year which supports the SART -- the other being the Walk a Mile in Their Shoes event.

The Mom Prom will be hosted Aug. 26 from 7-10 p.m. at Heshey Hall in the Greene County Community Event Center. Aydt said the “ladies only” event consists of dining with a catered meal, dancing, a silent auction and the crowning of the Mom Prom Queen.

“We discuss the importance of this program. Our goal is to make it easy for sexual assault victims during a difficult time of need and have the best services available to them,” Aydt said.

Tickets are $25 and can be purchased from any SART member, or by contacting Aydt at 812-384-4998.

Aydt said the program got its start when the state mandated each Prosecutor’s Office create a Sexual Assault Response Team.

“That got us thinking, what can we do to support victims of sexual assault?” Aydt said.

One of the biggest concerns was the fact Greene County did not have a SANE nurse at the local hospital. Rather than going straight to the local hospital, victims were having to have their forensic exams done in Bloomington.

“If you’ve been a victim of sexual assault, you’ve already had a tremendous amount of stress and anguish. If you tell that person, by the way we have to take you to Bloomington for your exam, that victim may change their mind. So, we decided to come up with some way to get a SANE nurse at Greene County General Hospital,” Aydt said, adding this became a priority.

Since the inception of the two fundraising campaigns, the SART has coordinated with the Greene County Foundation to house the funds. The money raised has helped to train the six SANE nurses on staff, helped to set up a fully-equipped room at Greene County General Hospital and assist those who have been trained with continued education. Aydt said at this time, victims of sexual assault under the age of 14 still have to see a pediatric SANE, often times at Riley Hospital for Children. The long-term goal of SART is to train a pediatric SANE at Greene County General Hospital.

In addition to offering the services at a local level, Aydt said she hopes events like Mom Prom, Walk a Mile in Their Shoes and the installation of the SANE program at GCGH keeps people aware sexual assault is everywhere -- even in our small community.

“Sexual assault doesn’t care if you’re two years old or 81. It doesn’t care about your race or gender. It can happen to anybody,” Aydt said.

Understanding the role of SANE

If the victim of a sexual assault goes to Greene County General Hospital, he or she will be seen by a Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner at no cost.

The SANE nurse program at GCGH is funded through the Sexual Assault Response Team (SART), coordinated by the Greene County Prosecutor’s Office.

The SANE nurse is specially trained in collecting forensic evidence relevant to a sexual assault case. According to SANE nurse Teresa Hutton, no two interactions with a victim are the same.

“If someone is a victim of sexual assault, they can come in (to the emergency room) and tell them at registration, and they will be brought right back,” Hutton said, noting a room with specialized equipment is set aside for such cases.

Victims of sexual assault are encouraged not to shower or clean after the incident as to protect the evidence, so the specialized room is the only one in the hospital with a shower. Hutton said oftentimes, victims of sexual assault want a shower as soon as possible.

“They can stay in the room throughout the entire process, then be escorted out of the hospital if that is what they want,” Hutton said.

With several trained SANE nurses, Hutton said the hospital often has one on duty or can call to quickly get someone to the hospital to complete a forensic exam.

“The exam is driven by the victim’s story,” Hutton explained, adding the collection of evidence is based on the information provided by the victim.

Following the exam, the victim has the option of reporting the assault. Hutton said often times the victims are overwhelmed, and based on the circumstances are not sure if they want to report it. Once the evidence is collected, it is stored anonymously and the victim has up to a year to decide if they want to press charges. Hutton said a case number is assigned to the information, which keeps the identity of the victim private.

“We have to ask the police for a case number, but none of their information is provided,” Hutton stressed. “This gives the victim time to think about what they want to do and provides them leeway on the decision they want to make.”

The victim and their family can then be connected to a victim’s advocate -- through the Middle Way House of Greene County -- to help them through the difficult time. The victim is then set up with a follow-up exam and treated for sexually transmitted infections.

The SANE nurses go through an intensive training program and continued education to be prepared for a forensic exam following a sexual assault.

Holly Zschiederich recently completed the first portion of her training, and is preparing to complete the clinical portion. She attended the 40-hour training course in Evansville, which included being taught to do exams, learning about domestic violence, sitting in a courtroom to learn about presenting evidence and much more.

The nurse’s must then complete the clinical aspect, which includes working with local law enforcement, sitting through felony court proceedings and being involved in the collection of forensic evidence.

Zschiederich said while she is nearing the completion of her clinical hours, she is still pursuing the encouraged avenues of learning in order to stay involved and continue learning.

The nurses training is funded through the fundraising campaign by SART, as well as the equipment in the specialized room.

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