EDITORIAL: Saginaw Chippewa Indian Tribe's program shows support, compassion for sexual assault survivors


Last week, we published several stories about sexual assault. One of those stories highlighted a program that was created to help survivors as they seek treatment at local hospitals.

The Victims of Crime Program, created by the Saginaw Chippewa Indian Tribe, is a valuable, thoughtful service provided to survivors. It has provided funding to McLaren Central Michigan Hospital to help make sure its Sexual Assault Nurse Examination (SANE) service is there when survivors need them. SANE is the examination someone has to get done after being sexually assaulted.

Because of the lack of services in the Mount Pleasant area forced police to drive to other nearby hospitals to be treated, the tribe stepped up to improve the resources survivors have here. 

While the funding for SANE services is a major component of the program sponsored by the tribe, it also provides other aid to survivors:

  • Crisis counseling
  • Individual counseling
  • Emotional support
  • Safety planning
  • Possible emergency financial assistance
  • Criminal justice support/advocacy in State, Tribal and Federal Court
  • Assistance in filing for personal protection orders
  • Assistance in filing for restitution
  • Assistance in filing for victim compensation
  • Claims with the State of Michigan referrals for community resources; food, clothing banks and emergency shelter
  • Updates on criminal case information 
  • Case management 

This ongoing list of resources and services shows that comforting and helping sexual assault survivors are priorities in our community. It also exemplifies the commitment the members of the Chippewa tribe have shown to helping people in crisis and supporting the medical and law enforcement communities.  

After a survivor completes the process for assembling evidence for a rape-kit, all of his or her clothes have to be taken for evidence. The program provides a way for them to leave more comfortably and with dignity — not being forced to wear a hospital gown home. Packages are given to survivors that include sweatpants, shirts, underwear, toiletries and other necessities. 

When we talked to Rachel Wilson, a graduate student at Central Michigan University and survivor, she told us how much this package meant to her.

“I think without this care package, I would have either been wearing a gown home or clothes (from) the lost and found,” Wilson told Central Michigan Life. "I felt really touched that someone cared." 

We want to thank the Saginaw Chippewa Indian Tribe and all that they are doing to support sexual assault survivors. 

We also would like to say thank you to the following agencies on the task force that helped restore the SANE services in Mount Pleasant including McLaren Central Michigan, CMU Police Department, Mount Pleasant Police Department, Isabella County Sheriff's Office, Sexual Assault Peer Advocates, Office of Civil Rights and Institutional Equity, Women’s Aid Services, Isabella County Prosecutor's Office Victims Advocate.

This effort to constantly improve these services shows survivors they have resources, options and people in the community who are willing to help them.

We appreciate the work you’re doing to make this community a better place.