Shanice’s story: How Aurora’s Sexual Assault Nurse Examiners do so much more than treat injuries

Shanice (R) may still have to testify about her experience in court. But she wants to share her story with the hope of motivating others to come forward and get help. Sharain Horn (L) is a Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner at the Sexual Assault Treatment Center, she also runs Aurora’s Safe Mom Safe Baby program which helps mothers in the throes of domestic abuse.

Shanice’s life was at stake. Something inside of her was telling her to run; she says she believes it was “the voice of God”.

“I just kept hearing this voice in my head that said ‘Shanice, run as fast as you can!’”

It was August of last year; she had been trying for months to end a relationship that had become physically, verbally and sexually abusive. On this August night, after Shanice suggested they “see other people,” her abuser became enraged. He began to beat her and said he was going to kill her. At one point, he made her follow him outside. That’s when she heard it—the voice. That voice told her she had to run to save her own life.

“Something inside of me just kept saying ‘Run, Shanice run!’ He walked ahead of me somehow and I just took off behind him. Something happened in those few moments because we really weren’t that far apart. He could have caught me. And if he did…” Shanice shakes her head just imagining the thought. “It was God. I know it was God.”

And so Shanice ran. And through a beaten, swollen eye she saw light and screamed for help. It was a motel and people inside called 911. Shanice was taken to the nearest hospital where medical staff treated her wounds. But to get the kind of specialized care someone like Shanice needed, she was referred to the Sexual Assault Treatment Center at Aurora Sinai Medical Center and Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner Sharain Horn.

“I felt like God sent me an angel. I really love Sharain, she has such a humble spirit,” explains Shanice. “From what happened to me I was so uncomfortable to let anyone touch me. But she would ask, ‘Is it okay to touch you here? Is it okay if I do this?’ Nothing was forced. She was just a very compassionate person and made me feel like someone was by my side.”

Aurora has Sexual Assault Nurse Examiners, or SANE nurses, available in Milwaukee, Burlington, Elkhorn, Hartford, Kenosha, Oshkosh, Sheboygan, Two Rivers and West Allis. These SANE nurses have specialized forensic training and resources available that can assist law enforcement in an investigation.

“The physical evidence collection, in some ways, is the easy part. We’re really helping people deal with trauma and begin that healing process. I think some nurses are just more comfortable talking about uncomfortable things. You have to, that’s how you make a difference,” Sharain explains.

The next day, Sharain went with Shanice to the courthouse and helped her file a restraining order against her abuser. He is now in jail awaiting trial. Shanice knows she has a long road to recovery and emotional wounds that still need to heal. But she is determined to get well and says thanks to Sharain and the care she received at Aurora, she has a very powerful tool at her disposal: HOPE.

“Sharain made phone calls for me, referred me to counseling services, made sure I had all the medication I needed and went out of her way to help me. She made me feel like there are still some good people out there. I just appreciate how much she helped me,” says Shanice.

To learn more or to make a gift, go to give.aurora.org/denimday.

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