Sexual violence is an everyday occurrence that you hear about in all news media. It sometimes strikes close to home, either in your own family or someone you know. It is heartbreaking and disturbing. However, there is one nurse in Vallejo, California area that is working to do something about it. Her name is Vickie Whitson and she is dedicated to her side job as a Forensic Nurse.
Like doctors, many nurses practice various specialties whether it is pediatrics, obstetrics, or ophthalmology, which is Vickie’s primary role in her full-time job. By chance, Vickie heard about Forensic Nursing from another colleague and found her true mission. On top of her regular job, she is also on-call as many as sixty hours per week serving in the Forensic Nursing capacity as a Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner. Many times plans fall by the wayside when a call comes in and for the most part Vickie wouldn’t have it any other way.
It’s a tough role for Vickie as she primarily sees victims of sexual assault from all walks of life – rich, poor, old, young, male and female. Part of her job is collecting evidence off of the victim as well as documenting and taking pictures of injuries. She also does what she can to make a difference in the victim’s life by being a nurturing, calming presence, something victims desperately need after such a traumatic experience.
One of the aspects of Vickie’s role as a Forensic Nurse is testifying in court, explaining her findings and providing valuable testimony. Many times, she is called upon to interpret the results of numerous medical exams done on the victim. In addition, there are those heartbreaking times where Vickie must perform an examination on a post-mortem body.
Among the duties in collecting evidence of a sexual assault case is drawing blood, testing secretions and providing medication that can help prevent pregnancy as well as several diseases. Dealing with the ugliness of these sexual assault crimes every day has made Vickie very cognizant of how crime can touch anyone, at any time. It has also blown apart quite a few of her misconceptions about crime of this sexual nature.
The details that Vickie gleans from the victims are heartbreaking and she is learning to educate based on her findings. Many sexual assaults cases are perpetrated by men with females being the primary victim. Often, it is someone the victim knows which makes it even more devastating. The victim’s faith and trust in human nature is shattered and Vickie does what she can to offer comfort and make a difference, even if only for a little while.