St. Davids Round Rock Medical Center, USA
Title: The Perception of research in sexual assault physical examinations
Evangeline Barefoot has completed her Masters in Criminal Justice and her Bachelors Degree is in Nursing. She studied at Boston University and has served as a sexual assault nurse examiner in Texas for 22 years. She also serves as a consultant to the United States Air Force Judge Advocate Generals offices across the globe. She has published several articles on sexual assault examination procedures and taught healthcare providers in Texas for the Attorney Generals Office for six years. She maintains a practice caring for victims of sexual assault, domestic violence, and abuse.
Over the past several decades, evidenced based practice has become the gold standard for health science. Evidence based medical care has helped us to recognize, treat, and improve outcomes in all areas of medicine and nursing. This is an accepted belief. I also believe in evidenced based treatment. I am a sexual assault nurse examiner and forensic nurse. I have practiced my craft for more than twenty years and I have seen many changes in how we provide care and many more changes in how we interpret our findings in a legal setting. Most of the changes are at the behest of the criminal justice system (McLean, et al, 2011). Absent of physical evidence, eye witnesses, or collaboration by facts, the case often results in a he said, she said, stalemate and subsequently there is not enough evidence for a grand jury to issue an indictment. If an indictment is issued it is even less likely that, absent significant and compelling evidence, the jury will be firmly convinced beyond a reasonable doubt. With recent high profile events of sexual assault and interpersonal violence, there is increasing pressure to prove that a crime happened even when there is no physical evidence. This has led to an acceptance by many sexual assault examiners that evidence is not needed to prove contact let alone an assault. If current research is used as evidence based practice there is a significant danger of false interpretation.