Skip to Content


Shelterhouse Midland Opens new SANE Suite

This summer, the hallways of Shelterhouse Midland’s business side were laid with plastic and filled with the buzzing, clicking, and hammering sounds of construction. Being a trauma-informed facility, the gentle serene atmosphere has shifted temporarily as a critical community service for survivors is moved in house. A new Sexual Assault Nurse Examination (SANE) Suite, just steps away from the counseling wing and emergency shelter, opened near the end of 2022.

“Survivors’ right to self-determination, healing, and autonomy is our top priority. Coming in for a SANE exam can be intimidating. We are so grateful for the more than ten-year partnership we’ve had with the MyMichigan Medical Center, Center for Women’s Health and their team. This is a new phase in our SANE program and we are looking forward to providing survivors with a trauma-informed experience where there are no other patients seeking medical care around them and barrier free access to all Shelterhouse’s services.” Denise Berry, Execuive Director of Shelterhouse.

Shelterhouse offers completely free and confidential Sexual Assault Nursing Examinations (SANE) for survivors of all ages and genders. Survivors have complete autonomy during these exams – they can decide what the exam will entail, which medications, if any, they’d like to receive, whether or not they’d like to collect evidence or involve the legal system, and whether or not they’d like to stop at any point in time.

“It is our mission to empower survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault to seek refuge, hope, and healing however and whenever it feels right to them. We seek to provide crisis support in a way that feels empowering to survivors.” – Berry

According to the National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey (NISVS), 43.6% of women in the United States experience some form of sexual violence in their lifetime, and Michigan alone has the fourth highest rate of reported rapes in the country.

Even with these overwhelming numbers, a majority of sexual assaults go unreported. This means that the actual number of sexual assault victims is much higher. Many survivors who choose to not report do still seek medical care and/or counseling services, to begin healing from the trauma that often accompanies sexual assault.

“We want survivors to feel comfortable and empowered to seek help after experiencing sexual violence or assault without compromising their privacy or personal wishes. SANE exams allow survivors to receive immediate medical care following an assault, and empower survivors to make choices about how they’d like to proceed: collecting evidence to be used in a police report, receiving emergency contraception or STD preventative medications, accessing counseling or support group healing services, or simply speaking with an experienced trauma-informed staff member who can advocate on their behalf.” – Lorie Ladziak-Thivierge RN, BSN, SANE Services Coordinator at Shelterhouse

SANE exams remain entirely anonymous – Shelterhouse does not report results to the police, bill insurance companies, or disclose that an individual received a SANE exam unless the survivor specifically requests for them to do so. In this way, Shelterhouse empowers survivors to make their own choices about their bodies and their healthcare moving forward.

In the 2020-2021 fiscal year, Shelterhouse received 1,154 calls to their crisis helpline from survivors of sexual violence and provided 84 SANE exams to 58 adults and 26 children.

SANE exams are often the first step in a survivor’s healing journey before rising above the impacts of trauma caused by sexual violence. Working to remove the physical, financial, and mental barriers that inhibit survivors’ full-person healing encourages survivors to pursue meaningful connections, goals and ambitions, and comprehensive personal growth.