Washington, DC - Wednesday, Deputy Attorney General Lisa O. Monaco and Office on Violence Against Women (OVW) Principal Deputy Director Allison Randall announced the launch of an updated and expanded resource aimed at health care professionals. Originally developed in 2008 with OVW funding by the Dartmouth Medical School’s Interactive Media Laboratory, the Sexual Assault Medical Forensic Examination: A Virtual Practicum (SAMFE VP) teaches every step of a victim-centered sexual assault medical forensic examination and serves as a training tool for law enforcement, prosecutors and other professionals. The revised and improved SAMFE VP is designed to enhance care for patients from diverse communities, including transgender patients, young people, elders and incarcerated patients. The SAMFE VP provides interactive training on various topics including evidence collection, physical examinations, medical and forensic documentation, crime laboratory analysis and courtroom testimony. Earlier this year, President Biden signed into law the historic reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), which expands access to justice, safety and services for survivors and enhances training for sexual assault forensic examiners.

“All survivors of sexual violence deserve access to compassionate and competent care, and professionals must be able to obtain the resources, training and institutional support required to meet survivors’ needs. Medical forensic care providers can have an enormous impact on survivors, as well as on the investigation and prosecution of these cases,” said Deputy Attorney General Monaco. “Programs, initiatives and projects funded under the Violence Against Women Act, including the SAMFE Virtual Practicum announced today, support practices that save lives and help build coordinated community responses to sexual and domestic violence.” 

“Forensic medical examiners are often among the first people survivors encounter in the aftermath of sexual assault, on what might have been the worst day of their lives, when they are just beginning to process the trauma of what they’ve been through. It is not an easy job, but it is critical in so many ways: research shows that survivors who work with forensic medical examiners have much better outcomes when compared to those who do not,” said OVW Principal Deputy Director Randall. “The SAMFE Virtual Practicum ensures that nurses and other professionals have the knowledge and skills they need to respond effectively when a survivor needs medical treatment and evidence collection after an assault.”

With funding from the department’s National Institute of Justice, OVW collaborated to update the SAMFE VP with End Violence Against Women International; the Academy of Forensic Nursing; the International Association of Forensic Nurses; and more than 30 multidisciplinary experts – the full list of people and institutions who made the project possible is available as a pdf file. For more information about SAMFEs and Sexual Assault Nurse Examiners (SANEs), OVW’s Patchwork Podcast has an episode titled “Sexual Assault Nurse Examiners Assist Survivors at the Intersection of Health and Justice Systems.”

OVW provides funding under several grant programs to provide sexual assault patients with medical forensic exams to treat their post-assault healthcare needs and to collect evidence of their sexual assault. OVW provides leadership in developing the nation’s capacity to reduce violence through the implementation of the Violence Against Women Act and subsequent legislation. Created in 1995, OVW administers financial and technical assistance to communities across the country that are developing programs, policies and practices aimed at ending domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, and stalking.