For the first time in Illinois history, victims of sex abuse in Illinois will soon be receiving the better care they deserve under a new law initiated by State Rep. Mike Unes. The measure especially improves treatment for pediatric sexual assault victims by providing them greater access to emergency services from specialized clinics, such as Peoria’s Pediatric Resource Center. It also aims to increase the statewide number of pediatric sexual assault nurse examiners (SANEs) and physicians–which is currently very limited, particularly in downstate rural areas.
“Since day one, my goal has been to ensure that this most vulnerable population of victims that have been through unthinkable trauma, may obtain the care they need and deserve from the most qualified medical professionals,” said Rep Unes. “While this bill enhances the quality of care for all victims of sexual assault, the greatest improvements will undoubtedly be for children. This bill truly gives a voice to the voiceless, and raises the standard of compassion and care for those who need it the most.”
Throughout this two-year-long process, Rep. Unes has worked closely with hospitals, law enforcement entities, the Attorney General’s office, and local physicians in an effort to carefully craft and achieve this legal milestone for sexual assault victims in the State of Illinois.
“This legislation represents the very first of its kind in the state, and finally helps address the fact that the sexual assault of a child is inherently different from the sexual assault of an adult,” said Dr. Channing Petrak of the Pediatric Resource Center in Peoria. “As a pediatrician who specializes in child sexual assault, I am tremendously grateful for the tireless dedication that Representative Unes has given to this long-overdue initiative.”
While both the Attorney General’s office and the Illinois Hospital Association (IHA) have recognized that more nurse’s training in the area of sexual assault has been needed, past efforts have fallen short of achieving adequate levels of clinical expertise in many emergency rooms. This law provides the necessary direction to make this issue a high priority, achieving greater levels of competent care and justice for these victims.
“Working with others to help and protect our most vulnerable citizens is the cornerstone of public service,” said Unes. “It has truly been a privilege for me to fight for this legislation for the past two years. Few issues as complicated as this have received the overwhelming and unanimous support enjoyed by this legislation, and it gives me the unique confidence that we truly got it right. It’s going to make a tremendous difference.”