Women to Watch

JULIE BAISA & KIM CURRAN

ADVOCATING FOR SEXUAL ASSAULT VICTIMS
By Candice Wagener

AS CO-COORDINATORS OF MERITER’S Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner program, Julie Baisa and Kim Curran strive to provide compassionate, one-on-one care and resources to their patients. And this year they’ll champion improvements in how sexual assault cases are handled.

Baisa is revisiting management of alcohol- and drug facilitated assault cases, including updated protocols for specimen collection. As part of the Attorney General Sexual Assault Response Team, Baisa is at the table with everybody who has contact with the victim and poses important questions, such as, How can we better respond? How can we make this a case to prosecute?

Curran is advocating the addition of a question about strangulation in the initial emergency room triage for all patients. According to Curran, strangulation is one of the best predictors of future homicides of domestic violence victims, and “women who are strangled typically do not disclose this information without being asked a specific question.” One simple question breeds multiple benefits, Curran says. It links women with community services and hopefully puts an end to the abuse. That decreases ER visits, 911 calls and, Curran hopes, saves lives by decreasing the domestic violence homicide rate in Dane County.

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