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New Dallas Center Designed To Help Rape Victims

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(credit: KTVT/KTXA) Stephanie Lucero
Stephanie is an Emmy Award winning veteran reporter for CBS 11 N...
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DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) - A hospital emergency room in Dallas will officially open as a safe haven for victims of rape on Tuesday. It is called the W.W. Caruth Jr. Center for Safe Healing, and the Dallas center is designed to provide compassion for sexual assault victims.

“We want our victims to feel safe once they come back here,” said Tammy Pruitt, a nurse at the center. The facility includes three ‘safe suites’ for victims and their loved ones, two exam rooms, restrooms with showers, a training room for staff members and a secured evidence room.

The center is equipped with ‘rape kits,’ something that few other Dallas hospitals have on hand. The kits help hospital staff collect evidence for authorities – hair, blood, skin tissue and other materials – to assist in more quickly locating any sexual assault suspects.

Victoria was the victim of a serial rapist in December 2007. Her attacker has not yet been found. But in the last four years, she has been able to move away from feeling devastated, and is ready to help others at the center as an educator.

Rape victims can come to the hospital and be medically evaluated by special nurses who have been trained specifically to help people who have experienced a traumatic assault. This is something that Victoria appreciates. “We can’t control what happens to us in life, but to have a choice now in Dallas, to have a choice to come to a place like this,” Victoria said, “it doesn’t erase what happened that night, but it definitely helps to get on the right road to healing a lot faster.”

“So many people focus on the evidence, but it goes far beyond the evidence,” said Loren Larkin with Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital. “They’ve had a lot taken away from them and, first and foremost, choice. We want to give them those choices back.”

The nurses receive more than 180 hours in highly specialized training to become what is known as SANE – Sexual Assault Nurse Examiners. When the center opens on Tuesday, 10 nurses will have that distinction.

The new 3,000 square foot center was funded by a $2 million grant from the W.W. Caruth Jr. Foundation of Communities Foundation of Texas. “I think it’s an excellent idea, and I’m sure my father would have liked it too,” said Bill Caruth.

The center’s ribbon cutting is set for Tuesday.

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