The nearly decade-long battle for better access to care for rape victims has now become law. On Tuesday, President Biden signed into law the Violence Against Women Act, which includes provisions in a bilateral bill to increase access to care for women victims of sexual abuse.
Washington Senator Patty MurrayAfter hearing the story of Leah Griffin from Seattle, who said she was unable to get a rap examination at a neighboring hospital in 2014.
“I went to the nearest emergency room. I told them what happened,” Griffin said. “We don’t do rap kits here,” he shrugged. Hours later, I managed to get a rap kit at a different hospital across the city. But the delay in care made a devastating series of failures in my case, and I never got justice. “
However, it has now received a different kind of justice – through new legislation aimed at promoting national standards for the care of victims of sexual abuse. The Violence Against Women Act also includes provisions to create a federal grant program to better study the issue and encourage hospitals to train specialized nurses, known as sexual assault nurse examiners.
“My goal is for every hospital in this country, urban, rural, anywhere, to have someone who has been trained as a ‘SANE’ nurse to help victims of sexual abuse. They can do whatever they want, “Murray told CBS News.
A 2016 report from the Government Accountability Office, requested by Murray, revealed a severe lack of information on the issue, as well as a lack of resources.
“I’m amazed at how many hospitals and healthcare providers don’t have the training to do that,” Murray said. “Ever since I’ve been working on it, a lot of people have come to me on the street and said, ‘That’s what happened to me.’
Murray’s co-sponsor, Alaska Senator Lisa Markowski, says victims of sexual assault in rural areas of her state should be airlifted for the necessary care.
The purpose of the newly enacted legislation is to identify gaps in the system, with the ultimate goal of ensuring that what happened to Griffin does not happen to anyone else.
“We don’t even know how big the problem is,” Griffin said.
She hopes the bill will allow the government to better understand where needs remain and target grant funding to the communities most in need.
“After all, seeing him across the finish line is a lifelong achievement,” he said.