Join News4 and The Tennessean for a live tour and candid conversation about sexual assault in our churches, in politics, workplaces and homes.
News4 anchor Tracy Kornet and Opinion Editor David Plazas will interview sexual assault experts and share the evidence-based therapy helping survivors heal for more than 40 years at the Sexual Assault Center of Nashville.
Kornet and Plazas will also conduct a live tour of SAC's newly-opened SAFE clinic on 101 French Landing Drive in Nashville.
The city's first and only stand-alone clinic for rape exams has performed 112 exams just since opening in September-- more than they were expecting for all of 2019.
Statistics show every 98 seconds someone is sexually assaulted in the United States.
1 in 6 boys will be raped before they're 18.
On April 25, SAC will host dual fundraisers, a breakfast and a lunch, to help fund the center and SAFE clinic and raise awareness of how to prevent sexual assault and treat survivors.
The “1-in-6” breakfast will feature keynote speaker Kenny Anderson. The former NBA star and head basketball coach at Fisk University will share his personal story of child sexual abuse.
The "98 Seconds" luncheon features Dr. Shree Walker of Metro Nashville Public Schools and Olympian Kassie Powell, who will share their stories of abuse and healing.
Both events will be held at the Loews Vanderbilt Hotel at 2100 West End and are open to the public. Tickets are still available.
Exclusive tour of Nashville's first rape exam clinic
Nashville's very first stand-alone rape exam clinic, built exclusively for victims of sexual assault, is about to open to the public.
News4 got an exclusive tour before the June 5th ribbon-cutting ceremony.
"The first goal was to create a space that's not a hospital emergency room," said Rachel Freeman, president & CEO of the Sexual Assault Center in Nashville.
"We wanted to create a space that was comfortable, nurturing, safe, calming, something that created an atmosphere of love and support and compassion," Freeman added.
Collecting evidence is critical if a victim one day decides to press charges.
A forensic exam must be done within 96 hours of an assault.
"Once evidence is collected, a very specific chain of custody must be maintained to make sure it's admissible in court," said Freeman.
"We really strongly encourage people to get an exam because we don't want sexual assault to happen. In order to change and to stop perpetrators more, we have to collect evidence, and we have to take cases to court, we have to file police reports. Everybody's not ready for that. And we fully support and strongly encourage people to do that, in their own time, when they're ready."
Every detail of the S.A.F.E. (Sexual Assault Forensic Exam) Clinic was designed with the survivor in mind: a gated, well-lit parking lot with a private entrance; soothing colors and natural stone; clothing changes, in case a victim's clothes are kept as evidence; and beautifully tiled bathrooms with a shower.
"Survivors have the ability to come and feel refreshed and clean and rejuvenated after having the experienced the invasive trauma of an exam," Freeman said.
Even the exam room ceilings are treated with decorative screens in a leaf design, to help calm the survivor and provide a distraction.
"The leaves were chosen because you can look and count them, or drift off and pretend like you're outside," Freeman explained.
The clinic will be open 24/7 and staffed by specially-trained nurses from Nashville General Hospital.
There is never a charge for a rape exam.
"Our clinic is available to anybody who needs it. If you're traveling from out of town and you've been sexually assaulted, the clinic is available to you. No one deserves to be sexually assaulted, so hopefully that's a big step to the healing process for survivors."
The SAFE clinic is the culmination of a community-wide task force, including members of Nashville General hospital, the district attorney's office, law enforcement, and the Sexual Assault Center (SAC).
SAC raised $2.5 million in 9 months to pay for the clinic's construction and operating costs.
Until now Nashville General Hospital was the only place in Davidson County where the general public could get a rape exam. The hospital conducted 260 exams in 2017, up from just 200 in 2016.
Based on the results of similar clinic in Austin, Texas, the number of rape victims coming forward in Nashville is expected to double in the first year alone.
In June both Vanderbilt and Skyline will offer medical legal rape exams.
The task force is working to expand rape exams to hospitals across Middle Tennessee.
Ribbon cutting held for The Safe Clinic
In the wake of the #MeToo movement, the timing couldn’t be more profound.
A ribbon-cutting ceremony was held on Tuesday for Nashville’s first stand-alone rape exam clinic.
The Safe Clinic is designed for survivors of sexual assault, from compassionate care to the gated, secure parking lot and private entrance.
A rape exam must be done within 96 hours of an assault. Collecting the evidence is critical if a victim decides to press charges.
That evidence will be stored at the clinic.
The clinic will be open 24 hours a day, seven days a week and staffed by Nashville General Hospital.
It will begin accepting clients later this month.
The Safe Clinic is located near Rosa Parks Boulevard and Interstate 65 on the same campus as the Sexual Assault Center.
Funds were raised to build and operate the clinic. There’s never a charge for a rape exam.
Based on similar clinics around the country, the number of victims reporting the crime in Nashville is expected to double in the first year.
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Sexual Assault Center cases nearly double since last year
Sexual Assault Center sees success in SAFE Clinic; opens Healing Garden
A few weeks ago, the SAFE Clinic opened at the Sexual Assault Center in Nashville. The center provides counseling to women, men, and children after rape.
The SAFE Clinic gives those who've suffered the trauma of rape a comforting place to go for a rape exam, that's not in a hospital setting. In partnership with Metro General and the DA's office along with other agencies, the idea was that more victims might come forward for a rape kit, in case they decide to prosecute later.
According to numbers shared Wednesday, it's working. The Sexual Assault Center reports it has provided 24 exams in less than two months.
Nashville General, which used to be the only place you could get a rape exam, has provided 13 at their new site. Vanderbilt, who just opened its hospital to the public for rape exams has provided 17 exams since June.
If this pace keeps up, this will be the highest number of rape exams conducted in Nashville history.
Which makes the timing for a special community gift, even more of a good thing.
'Healing Garden' a product of generosity and love
The Sexual Assault Center shared its new Healing Garden on Thursday, it was funded by a $4,000 grant from the Nashville Predators Foundation, with some extra love from Nate Barker with Horticultual Solutions and landscape designer Andrew Nixon.
When Barker learned what the center does, he personally solicited donations from nurseries all around Nashville.
Then, volunteers from HCA and the United Way of Williamson County came out to help. They had the old patio furniture power-washed and re-stained.
"This new garden has numerous wonderful features..." said Dott Freeman with the Sexual Assault Center, "Went to other nurseries, other landscape firms, brought in almost 20,000 worth of plantings, trees, gravel, with moonballs for children to look into and a kinetic sculpture, so that this is really a healing garden."
The garden will be used by clients and advocates of the Sexual Assault Center, especially therapists and staff who need a break from the intense work they do.
A fundraiser for the center, Mad Hatter 2018, will be held on December 1 at the Loews Vanderbilt Hotel with keynote speaker Ashley Judd. News4 is a media sponsor of the event. Tickets are now available, you can purchase them here.
If you or someone you love needs help from the Sexual Assault Center, call 1-800-879-1999 or visit www.sacenter.org. Someone is standing by to take your call 24 hours a day.
Mad Hatter Event 11/21/18
Sexual Assault Center in Nashville sees spike in calls during the holidays
The holidays are supposed to be a happy time, but for some it is very traumatizing.
The Sexual Assault Center in Nashville says the number of calls to its 24-hour hotline spike in December, especially at night.
“Often times it’s somebody whether it’s an adult survivor or a rape survivor who just needs somebody to talk to while they’re home alone or while they’re feeling maybe triggered by some type of holiday event," said Rachel Freeman, president of the Sexual Assault Center.
January and February are also two of the busiest months for the Sexual Assault Center when it comes to people wanting to visit with a counselor. She believes triggers during the holiday contributes to the increase.
“It’s typically because during the holiday period we let the hustle and bustle of the holiday take over our lives and we put our own self-care, our own stuff on hold," said Freeman.
Freeman says 80 to 90 percent of people are abused by someone they know.
“If someone in your family abused you and then you are having multiple holiday gatherings between November and the end of December, you are constantly being faced with somebody who has hurt you or somebody who didn’t believe you or somebody who didn’t support you," said Freeman.
Freeman says setting boundaries before holiday gatherings can help.
“Knowing that here are my boundaries. I want to sit by my aunt and my cousin. I don’t want to sit next to my step-dad and just going into every family event knowing here are the things I can handle and here is how I can handle it," said Freeman. “Is there somebody within your family you can contact ahead of time and say okay here is what I’m dealing with, can you support me through this?”
Freeman says it's best to get help as quickly as possible if you have been abused. You can call the 24-hour sexual assault hotline at 1-800-879-1999.
News4 also reached out to Metro Police to see if there is a spike in domestic violence during the holidays. Police say there is typically no increase in the number of reports.