Kuster, Katko, Jayapal Introduce Bipartisan Resolution Honoring Forensic Nurses
**Millions of Americans are treated for violence-related injuries each year**
Washington, February 22, 2022
Tags: Ending Sexual Violence
Washington, D.C. — Today, Representatives Annie Kuster (D-NH), John Katko (R-NY), and Pramila Jayapal (D-WA) introduced a bipartisan resolution honoring forensic nurses for the compassionate care they provide the survivors of violence and reaffirming Congress’s commitment to work with nursing professionals to improve health outcomes. Each year in the United States, millions of people seek medical care after experiencing physical violence, including sexual assault or abuse, domestic and interpersonal violence, human trafficking, elder or child maltreatment, or accidental trauma.
Through their commitment to trauma-informed and evidence-based best practices, forensic nurses provide essential healthcare services to survivors while also serving as the bridge between the medical and legal needs of patients. Beyond physical injuries, they also provide holistic care by helping survivors who are experiencing sexually transmitted infections, HIV, substance misuse, anxiety, depression, and suicidal ideation as a result of what they have experienced.
“Forensic nurses are truly on the frontlines of our nation’s efforts to eradicate sexual violence,” said Congresswoman Annie Kuster. “They not only care for and comfort survivors in the aftermath of devastating assaults, but also gather critical forensic evidence needed to track down perpetrators and hold them accountable. Their perseverance through the added challenges presented by the COVID-19 pandemic is a tremendous testament to their commitment to helping and healing survivors. I am deeply grateful for their dedication and I’m proud to join with my colleagues, Representatives Katko and Jayapal, to introduce this resolution that recognizes and honors the work of America’s forensic nurses.”
“I am proud to introduce this bipartisan resolution honoring forensic nurses,” said Congressman John Katko. “Forensic nurses lead the effort to treat survivors of sexual violence and are celebrated for their compassionate care and holistic approach to treatment. Investigators rely on forensic nurses for their ability to gather evidence and help hold perpetrators accountable. Forensic nurses have incredibly difficult jobs, and their efforts are often overlooked. That’s why I am proud to join my colleagues in honoring these nurses and their crucial efforts.”
“Our forensic nurses treat patients on the hardest days of their lives, and they’re always there to provide compassionate and complete care,” said Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal. “They are frontline workers in every sense. I am incredibly grateful for their efforts every single day and am proud to have the opportunity to honor them with this resolution.”
“The COVID-19 pandemic has shined a spotlight on both the desperate and disparate needs within our healthcare system, including treatment for trauma associated with sexual assault, intimate partner violence, neglect or other forms of intentional injury,” said Jennifer Pierce-Weeks, BSN, RN, SANE-A, SANE-P, Chief Executive Officer, International Association of Forensic Nurses. “The resolution introduced by Reps. Kuster, Katko and Jayapal not only highlights the tireless and dedicated work of forensic nurses, but underscores the need to strengthen the healthcare and criminal justice response for victims of violence. The International Association of Forensic Nurses is grateful for the awareness this resolution brings to the valuable care provided by forensic nurses and stands ready to assist Congress in helping realize the goal of having a forensic nurse in every hospital during every shift.”
Representatives Kuster and Katko are two co-chairs of the Bipartisan Task Force to End Sexual Violence, of which Representative Jayapal is also a member. The Task Force has worked to raise awareness about the large backlog of untested sexual assault kits around the country and has championed robust federal funding to help clear it up. Additionally, Rep. Jayapal has introduced the Survivors’ Access to Supportive Care Act, with Reps. Kuster and Katko as cosponsors. This bipartisan, bicameral bill would help improve and expand access to health care services for survivors of sexual assault, who face steep challenges in being able to get medical care, and sexual assault examinations critical to their ability to seek justice. The bill will develop national standards of care for survivors of sexual assault, strengthen the sexual assault examiner workforce, and expand access to sexual assault examination services — including to rural and Tribal communities, and for higher education students.