A Forensic Nurse's Guide to Addressing Sexual Assault, Support, and Reporting Paths

2 Min Read Published April 2, 2024
A Forensic Nurse's Guide to Addressing Sexual Assault, Support, and Reporting Paths

Disclaimer: This article plus the included audio and video podcast episode contains a discussion on sexual assault, suicide, self-harm, pedophilia, and the elderly. Discretion is advised. 

Sexual assault is a crime that transcends boundaries of age, gender, and background, yet it remains shrouded in misconceptions. In a recent podcast episode hosted by Leah Helmbrecht, the fundamental understanding that sexual assault is about power and control, takes center stage. Leah adeptly dismantles this pervasive misconception, asserting that perpetrators seek dominance and control over their victims, irrespective of sexual desire.

Podcast Episode

>>Listen to podcast, "A Forensic Nurse's Guide to Addressing Sexual Assault, Support, and Reporting Paths."


Throughout the episode, Leah explains this critical distinction, drawing upon examples that underscore the universality of sexual assault. Vulnerable populations, including the elderly, children, and individuals with disabilities, are not exempt from the insidious reach of this crime. Sexual assault is a tool for assailants to dehumanize their victims, asserting their power through manipulation and coercion.

Moreover, the episode delves into the profound neurobiological impact of trauma, shedding light on the body's response to such harrowing experiences. The stress response triggered during a sexual assault manifests in a myriad of emotional and physical reactions, leaving lasting scars on survivors. Leah emphasizes the importance of acknowledging these power dynamics and providing unwavering support to those who have endured such trauma.

Central to the discussion are the various reporting options available to survivors. From law enforcement reports to anonymous and medical reports, each choice carries its own implications and considerations. Leah underscores the importance of respecting survivors' autonomy in choosing the reporting route that best aligns with their needs and circumstances.


Supporting survivors of sexual assault is paramount in their journey toward healing and reclaiming control over their lives. Leah emphasizes the significance of offering belief, support, and kindness to survivors, especially in systems that may not always prioritize their well-being. The fluidity of consent is also highlighted, empowering survivors to assert their boundaries and make decisions that prioritize their well-being.

Leah shares her personal practice of providing thoughtful cards to survivors after forensic exams. These messages of support serve as a reminder of their worth and resilience in the face of trauma, offering solace and validation in their healing journey.

This episode serves as a call to action to provide unwavering support, belief, and kindness to survivors of sexual assault. By fostering a compassionate and understanding environment, individuals can empower survivors to navigate their healing process with dignity and strength.

Connect With Leah on social media:

Instagram: offtheclocknurse

TikTok: offtheclocknurse

FB: Off The Clock Nurse Travels

Leah Helmbrecht
Leah Helmbrecht
Host, Nurse Converse Podcast

Leah Helmbrecht, BSN, RN currently works as a Forensic Nurse Examiner/Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner in Denver, CO. She graduated from Nursing School in 2009 and has experience in a variety of nursing specialties: Ortho/Trauma Floor Nurse, Operating Room Nurse, Travel OR Nurse, Nurse Advice Line, and Discharge Nurse.

Leah currently focuses on spreading awareness surrounding Sexual Assault, Human Sex Trafficking, and Domestic Violence through her Instagram platform @offtheclocknurse and is helping to create an online educational module system for Schools and Hospital staff to learn more about Human Sex Trafficking called Walking Wise, which will go live February 2024. Leah is dedicated to talking about uncomfortable topics to not only educate the public but also let survivors know they aren’t alone. She states, “Evidence collection is just a small part of my job. As a Forensic Nurse Examiner, I am always a Nurse first, and making sure the mental and physical well-being of my patients takes priority. During any assault, power, and control over a victim’s bodily autonomy were taken away. During my forensic exam I do everything I can to give my patient’s back that power and control. They are no longer victims, they are survivors.”

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