Back to Top Skip to main content Skip to sub-navigation

SAFE Option Provides Care for Victims of Sexual Violence

Image of (From left) Evangeline Barefoot, Blanchfield Army Community Hospital Forensic Healthcare program manager shows Dr. Cynthia Tara Ferguson, Defense Health Agency Forensic Healthcare program director, protocols BACH follows for patients who come to the hospital after experiencing sexual violence. Barefoot said some victims may avoid medical treatment because they don’t want to report an assault, however seeking medical treatment does not obligate a service member to file an investigation or notify their command. (Photo: Maria Christina Yager). (From left) Evangeline Barefoot, Blanchfield Army Community Hospital Forensic Healthcare program manager shows Dr. Cynthia Tara Ferguson, Defense Health Agency Forensic Healthcare program director, protocols BACH follows for patients who come to the hospital after experiencing sexual violence. Barefoot said some victims may avoid medical treatment because they don’t want to report an assault, however seeking medical treatment does not obligate a service member to file an investigation or notify their command. (Photo: Maria Christina Yager)

Recommended Content:

Sexual Assault Awareness and Prevention | Women's Health

A special medical exam available to survivors of sexual violence preserves lasting evidence that may aid in the prosecution of a perpetrator of sexual assault.

Called a Sexual Assault Forensic Examination, SAFE, the exam is conducted by a specially trained healthcare provider known as a Sexual Assault Medical Forensic Examiner, SAMFE. Within the Department of Defense, military treatment facilities with an emergency department, and provide care 24/7, must have at least one SAMFE. Smaller MTFs without emergency departments may partner with a local private or public healthcare agency to ensure patients have 24/7 access to a provider certified to perform SAFEs. 

According to Blanchfield Army Community Hospital’s Forensic Healthcare program manager, Evangeline Barefoot, seeking medical treatment is important for victims of sexual violence. 

One of nine SAMFEs at BACH, Barefoot explained that while television crime shows may emphasize the exam’s value in collecting evidence of a sexual assault from the victim’s body, her number one concern is the victim’s medical and emotional wellbeing following the trauma of sexual violence. 

“Sexual assault rarely leaves physical injuries that a victim can see themselves so they often dismiss the need for medical care. Forensic healthcare is the perfect marriage between recognizing when there is a medical need and a legal need,” said Barefoot. 

At BACH a SAMFE is available 24/7 to provide care and support to victims of sexual violence. 

After treating any acute injuries, the SAMFE will talk with the patient about things they might not be thinking about after a sexual assault—pregnancy, sexually transmitted diseases, HIV, behavioral health needs, and evidence collection. 

“Most of our patients tell us the exam was not what they were expecting,” said Barefoot. “I personally spend time getting to know my patient a little bit. I want to know who they are, what they do, and what their support system is before I ask them about what happened to them. We take as long as they need and make our patients as comfortable as possible because we are here for them.” 

The SAMFE can arrange for any additional tests or medications. They can also schedule follow-up care the patient may need. The exam is confidential and does not require notification of a service member’s command or law enforcement. 

“Fear of retaliation, shame, minimizing the event, uncertainty of outcome, alcohol, lack of interest in an investigation are among the reasons an individual may choose not to report a sexual assault,” explained Barefoot, “but that does not need to be a barrier to seeking medical care.” 

Having a sexual assault forensic exam ensures the patient receives any care they may need and that any forensic evidence is safely preserved in case the survivor later decides to file an unrestricted report. By law, evidence collected during a SAFE is required to be retained for 50 years. 

“We want the very best for our patients. They are seeing us on one, if not the worst, day of their lives and if we can reduce their fear, their anxiety, their pain, by even a little bit, that is successful healthcare,” said Barefoot. 

Forensic health professionals, like Barefoot, provide medical treatment and evaluation, have a specialized knowledge in injury identification, evidence collection and may provide testimony in court to assist with prosecution of individuals who commit acts of abuse. 

For more information about Sexual Assault Prevention and Response policy and initiatives in the DOD, visit the Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Office (SAPRO).

You also may be interested in...

New Army Policy Better Enables Victims to Report Sexual Assault

Article Around MHS
8/19/2022
Military personnel at Sexual Assault Prevention Program

A new policy recently implemented by the Army is designed to help remove possible barriers that may prevent Soldiers from reporting sexual assault.

Recommended Content:

Sexual Assault Awareness and Prevention | Women's Health

After Dobbs Decision, Department of Defense Provides Q&A Resource

Article
8/16/2022
Images of female service members

The Q&A provides answers to questions around reproductive health care access — including leave and travel, sexual assault, contraceptives and other types of related assistance.

Recommended Content:

Women's Health | Reproductive Health Q&A

Questions from the Force on Essential Women’s Health Care Services for Service Members, Dependents, Beneficiaries, and Department of Defense Civilian Employees

Publication
8/12/2022

Many members of the Department of Defense community have asked about essential women’s health care services following the Supreme Court’s decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization. As Secretary Austin has made clear, the health and well-being of our Service members, the civilian workforce, and DOD families are top priorities for the Department.

Recommended Content:

Women's Health

BACH Resumes Mom & Me Breastfeeding Support Group

Article Around MHS
8/11/2022
Military medical personnel weighs newborn

Blanchfield Army Community Hospital’s breastfeeding support group, Mom & Me, has resumed in-person meetings, Mondays from 1 to 3 p.m. at the Women’s Health Clinic.

Recommended Content:

Women's Health | Children's Health

Cervical Cancer Screening Available at NHB

Article Around MHS
8/9/2022
Military medical personnel in cancer screening exam room

Walk-in availability for cervical cancer screening – also known as a Pap test or Pap smear – will begin at Naval Hospital Bremerton’s OB/GYN clinic, Sept. 2, 2022.

Recommended Content:

Women's Health

July MHS Minute

Video
8/9/2022
July MHS Minute

The July MHS Minute highlights a dedicated webpage for women's health to educate women and their partners on the health care services and resources available to them. Visit https://www.health.mil/Military-Health-Topics/Total-Force-Fitness/Preventive-Health/Womens-Health to learn more. Additionally, learn more about the new national suicide and crisis lifeline, 988.

Recommended Content:

Women's Health | Suicide Prevention | Psychological Fitness

DOD Officials: Women’s Health Care Unchanged by Supreme Court Decision

Article
8/2/2022
Three women in a medical office.

Military Health System offers comprehensive health care services.

Recommended Content:

Women's Health

Deployment Readiness Education for Servicewomen App

Video
7/12/2022
Deployment Readiness Education for Servicewomen App

This video provides a brief overview of the Deployment Readiness Education for Servicewomen App.

Recommended Content:

Women's Health

Chlamydia is the Military's Most Common Sexually Transmitted Infection

Article
6/21/2022
Chlamydia is the most common sexually transmitted infection in the U.S., and most people who have it don’t know it. You may be able to get STI testing and treatment at your local community health clinic. In the photo, a service member at Naval Medical Center Camp LeJeune Community Health Clinic gets tested for STIs.  (Photo: Naval Medical Center Camp LeJeune Public Affairs)

Rates for Chlamydia have been rising in recent years. Chlamydia can cause permanent damage that can make it difficult or impossible for women to get pregnant. It often shows no symptoms at all but in some cases, it can cause a burning sensation when peeing in both men and women.

Recommended Content:

Women's Health | Men's Health | Sexually Transmitted Infection Prevention

LRMC CNS Fuels Progression in Military Medicine

Article Around MHS
6/17/2022
military personnel in neonatal care class

Army Maj. Rebeccah Dindinger serves as a Clinical Nurse Specialists at Landstuhl Regional Medical Center in Germany.

Recommended Content:

Health Readiness & Combat Support | Women's Health

For Sexually Transmitted Infections, Young People are at Higher Risk

Article
6/13/2022
Protect yourself in the war against sexually transmitted infections. If you have questions about where to find free condoms, STI testing, or treatment, contact your health care provider or local installation clinic.

Every year, thousands of service members are diagnosed with at least one sexually transmitted infection. Topping the list of the most common are chlamydia, gonorrhea, and genital herpes, military health data shows.

Recommended Content:

Sexually Transmitted Infection Prevention | Medical and Dental Preventive Care Fitness | Men's Health | Women's Health

Expectant Moms Have Group Option for Prenatal Care

Article Around MHS
6/10/2022
Midwife helps expectant military mom during pregnancy

The San Antonio Market offers a group obstetric model for pregnant women at Brooke Army Medical Center.

Recommended Content:

Health Readiness & Combat Support | Women's Health

Lt. Gen. Place Addresses Sexual Assault Awareness and Prevention

Video
4/27/2022
Lt. Gen. Place Addresses Sexual Assault Awareness and Prevention

Lt. Gen. Ron Place, DHA Director, talks about the importance of speaking up against sexual assault and his zero-tolerance policy regarding sexual assault in DHA workplaces and our hospitals and clinics.

Recommended Content:

Sexual Assault Awareness and Prevention

How my sexual assault shaped me but did not break me

Article Around MHS
4/18/2022
Air Force Staff Sgt. Kayla White

Joining the military was an intense, transformational experience filled with rites of passage, experiences designed to prepare me to act as a member of a team and conform so I could truly commit to something bigger than myself. One unexpected and devastating experience during my initial training changed me forever.

Recommended Content:

Sexual Assault Awareness and Prevention

Anyone Can Experience Sexual Assault

Infographic
4/8/2022
Anyone Can Experience Sexual Assault

All members of the military community deserve to work and live in a respectful, inclusive environment while serving our nation. Anyone can experience sexual assault or hazing that crosses the line. It takes courage for anyone to report sexual assault. Learn more at the DOD Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Office Men’s SAPR Campaign site: https://www.sapr.mil/mens-sapr-campaign #SAAPM #SexualAssault #PreventAssault #TreatmentCanHelp #StepForward

Recommended Content:

Sexual Assault Awareness and Prevention
<< < 1 2 3 4 5  ... > >> 
Showing results 1 - 15 Page 1 of 6
Refine your search
Last Updated: July 07, 2022

DHA Address: 7700 Arlington Boulevard | Suite 5101 | Falls Church, VA | 22042-5101

Some documents are presented in Portable Document Format (PDF). A PDF reader is required for viewing. Download a PDF Reader or learn more about PDFs.