Through the steady efforts of Councilwoman Judy Waldman, Homestead Hospital has a Rape Treatment Center servicing South Dade, the only one south of Jackson Memorial Hospital. Homestead Hospital’s Rape Treatment Center is complete with SANE (Sexual Assault Nurse Examiners) trained nurses, forensic exams, and victim advocates from MUJER who are on call 24/7 via the Sexual Assault Hotline, 305-763-2459.
Councilwoman Waldman worked hand-in-hand with MUJER, SOS, and Homestead Hospital to ensure the center was open to service victims of sexual assault and complete the SART (Sexual Assault Response Team). This development is truly life changing for many victims in South Dade and will make a difference in early treatment, assessment, documentation, and finally apprehension of the predators which will result in prosecution.
In addition to the determination of Councilwoman Judy Waldman, many organizations assisted in both the launch of SART and future counseling to include: Men and Women United in Justice, Education, and Reform (MUJER); Start Off Smart (SOS); Banyan Street Community Center; Vida Legal Assistance; Legal Aid Society; Homestead Hospital; and the State Attorney’s Office. Historically, victims of sexual assault had to travel to downtown Miami in order to receive medical and psychological services, a trip many victims chose not to take as they were in a traumatic state and could not envision traveling so far.
To commemorate the SART launch, Councilwoman Judy Waldman gave an impassioned and emotional speech at the MUJER Annual Luncheon held at The Woman’s Club of Homestead on Tuesday, October 28, 2014. Councilwoman Waldman shared a true story of abuse. Her story, titled “She,” was a moving account of an unnamed woman who suffered from mental and physical abuse right here in Homestead. The story detailed the struggles many victims still go through today—fear, victim-blaming, and a lack of appropriate resources. “She” trusted me to tell her story today.” “She” wants to make a difference in the life of someone who may need her help; “She” could be anyone,” said Councilwoman Waldman. Councilwoman Waldman has passionately worked with the SART over the last two years to ensure the implementation of the Helpline and the Rape Treatment Center so that victims could have access to support and ensure their safety.
Through the Councilwoman’s inspiration, Homestead Hospital joined the team and agreed to conduct forensic exams of sexual assault victims here in Homestead, as well as ensuring that they can access psychological services. During the month of September 2014, 18 of their nurses completed a 40-hour Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner (SANE) training and since that time they have assisted five acute rape cases here in Homestead. The SANE training adheres to the National Training Standards for Sexual Assault Medical Forensic Examiners and is valuable to prosecutors, law enforcement officers, victim advocates and crime lab analysts. This extensive training prepares these doctors and nurses not only for the forensics and technicalities required to treat a victim of sexual assault, but also for the emotions they will encounter from a man or woman who has been violently attacked and raped.
Luckily, Homestead is well on its way to providing the necessary resources for victims within its community. MUJER has been certified as a rape crisis center by the Florida Council Against Sexual Violence and is a member of the SART. MUJER provides 24/7 assistance to victims calling the statewide rape hotline. In addition, on-site support will be provided to the victim by the Homestead Hospital Rape Treatment Center, on-call services will be provided by trained volunteers, and MUJER will provide on-going support services from its rape crisis center.