April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month

April 19, 2022 

April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month

Remember “TALK” when showing support to victims

Eau Claire and Chippewa Falls, Wis.  –  April is recognized as Sexual Assault Awareness Month and HSHS Sacred Heart and St. Joseph’s hospitals are sharing important information about this critical issue. 

Sexual assault is any sexual contact that is forced or is against a person's wishes. It is a crime of violence that has a profound impact on lifelong health, opportunity and well-being.  

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), more than 1 in 3 women and 1 in 4 men have experienced sexual violence involving physical contact during their lifetimes.  

Sexual assault often happens in a trusting relationship. According to the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network (RAINN), 8 out of 10 assaults are committed by someone known to the victim. 

Seeking Medical Attention 

For survivors of sexual assault who seek medical attention, HSHS Sacred Heart and St. Joseph’s hospitals have nurses who are trained as sexual assault nurse examiners (SANE) to provide care and assistance.

Dianne Whitehouse is a SANE-trained nurse and conducts examinations at HSHS Sacred Heart and St. Joseph’s hospitals. While this type of nursing can be extremely difficult physically and emotionally, she knows this role is valuable in our communities.

“Having nurses who are specially trained to examine those who have been sexually assaulted is so important,” says Whitehouse. “Not only can we provide specialized, compassionate care to these patients, but we can guide them to additional resources in the community and help to bring perpetrators to justice.” 

Supporting Victims 

According to RAINN, remembering the acronym “TALK” can help you show support to anyone who has been sexually assaulted:

  • Thank Them for Telling You: Just having the courage to disclose the trauma is a huge step for a victim. Take the time to recognize that. 
  • Ask How You Can Help: Although you may want to give advice, allow them the choice to tell you how you can help. They may not know what support they need, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t ask. 
  • Listen Without Judgment. Give them your undivided attention and focus on their feelings, not yours. It’s normal to have reactions like anger or shock when someone you care about shares an experience of sexual violence, but sometimes those reactions can deter a survivor from sharing.
  • Keep Supporting. Healing takes time, and survivors need ongoing support and love. Make sure you are reaching out to initiate activities they enjoy but avoid putting pressure on them to engage in activities they aren’t ready to do yet. 

For more resources to support victims of sexual assault, please visit: rainn.org/TALK

The National Sexual Assault Telephone hotline, a referral service that can put you in contact with your local rape crisis center, is 1-800-656-4673 or you can access online chat service at: online.rainn.org




About HSHS Sacred Heart Hospital
HSHS Sacred Heart Hospital is sponsored by Hospital Sisters Ministries, the Hospital Sisters of St. Francis is the Founding Institute, and it is an affiliate of Hospital Sisters Health System. Since 1889, it has been meeting patient needs in western Wisconsin with the latest medical innovations and technology, together with a Franciscan whole-person healing tradition.

About HSHS St. Joseph’s Hospital
HSHS St. Joseph’s Hospital is sponsored by Hospital Sisters Ministries, the Hospital Sisters of St. Francis is the Founding Institute, and it is an affiliate of Hospital Sisters Health System. Since 1885, it has served the people of the Chippewa Falls area with health care that is high tech and high touch. Known locally for the quality of the care it provides patients, the hospital has been recognized nationally for its outstanding patient satisfaction levels. 

About Hospital Sisters Health System
Hospital Sisters Health System’s (HSHS) mission is to reveal and embody Christ’s healing love for all people through our high quality, Franciscan health care ministry. HSHS provides state-of-the-art health care to our patients and is dedicated to serving all people, especially the most vulnerable, at each of our physician practices and 15 local hospitals in two states - Illinois (Breese, Decatur, Effingham, Greenville, Highland, Litchfield, O’Fallon, Shelbyville and Springfield) and Wisconsin (Chippewa Falls, Eau Claire, Oconto Falls, Sheboygan, and two in Green Bay). HSHS is sponsored by Hospital Sisters Ministries,  and Hospital Sisters of St. Francis is the founding institute. For more information about HSHS, visit www.hshs.org. For more information about Hospital Sisters of St. Francis, visit www.hospitalsisters.org.

Media Contact

Karen Kraus

Communications Department HSHS Wisconsin