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Glossary of Key Terms

Assent – the expressed willingness to participate in an activity (e.g., examination procedures). For younger children who are, by definition, too young to give informed consent to care, but old enough to understand and agree to anticipate, the child’s “informed assent” is sought. (IRC, 2012)

Authorization – is an individual's signed permission to allow a covered entity to use or disclose the individual's protected health information (PHI) that is described in the Authorization for the purpose(s) and to the recipient(s) stated in the Authorization.

Colposcope – is a lighted instrument originally used to magnify the female cervix for the purpose of identifying disease that is also used to identify genital trauma in child and adult sexual assault and abuse cases.

Community Needs Assessment – is the process of gathering information about a community in order to identify existing needs and services. Assessments are performed prior to initiating change in a community.

Emergency Contraception – medications or medical devices given or used in the first few days after unprotected intercourse to prevent a pregnancy.

Evidence-Based Practice – involves the incorporation of three components to improve outcomes and quality of life. External evidence includes systematic reviews, randomized control trials, best practice, and clinical practice guidelines that support a change in clinical practice. Internal evidence includes health care institution-based quality improvement projects, outcome management initiatives, and clinical expertise. Accounting for patient preferences and values is the third component of this equation. (Lippincott’s Nursing

Guardian – an individual who is authorized under applicable state or local law to give permission on behalf of a child to general medical care [45 CFR 46.402(3)]. A guardian is also someone who has the legal responsibility to care for a person or their property. 

Historical Trauma – the collective emotional and psychological injury both over the lifespan and across generations, resulting from cataclysmic history of genocide. (Maria Yellow Horse Brave Heart)

Human Trafficking – is a modern-day form of slavery involving the illegal trade of people for exploitation or commercial gain. (U.S. Department of Homeland Security)

Incapacitation – is the inability to make decisions for oneself.

Indian Country – is land within an Indian reservation and all such other dependent Indian territories, and all land acquired by Indians in which tribal and federal laws normally apply and state laws do not.

Indian Health Service (IHS) – is the federal health program that provides health care services to American Indians and Alaska Natives.

Informed Consent – legal concept that adults of sound mind should be able to make decisions about their own health care.

Institutional Review Board (IRB) – is a committee established to review and approve research involving human subjects. The purpose of the IRB is to ensure that all human subject research be conducted in accordance with all federal, institutional, and ethical guidelines.

Intimate Partner Violence – describes physical, sexual, or psychological harm by a current or former partner or spouse. This type of violence can occur among heterosexual or same-sex couples and does not require sexual intimacy. (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention)

Jurisdiction – is a community that has power to govern or legislate for itself. For example, a jurisdiction may be a local area, state, territory, or tribe. Jurisdiction also describes the authority to interpret and apply laws; it is used in this context when identifying who has jurisdiction over particular case.

LGBTQ – are initials that stand for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer or questioning.

Logic Model – is a tool used for program planning and evaluation.

Mandatory Reporting Laws – require health care providers to share information with law enforcement or other agencies that would otherwise be considered a breach of confidentiality. All states have laws requiring the reporting of suspected child abuse. In addition to child abuse, some states require the reporting of elder abuse, the abuse of vulnerable adults, specific types of inflicted injuries, and some infectious diseases.

Medical Forensic Examination – The sexual assault medical forensic exam is an examination of a sexual assault patient by a health care provider, ideally one who has specialized education and clinical experience in the collection of forensic evidence and treatment of these patients. The examination includes gathering information from the patient for the medical forensic history; an examination; coordinating treatment of injuries, documentation of biological and physical findings, and collection of evidence from the patient; documentation of findings; information, treatment, and referrals for STIs, pregnancy, suicidal ideation, alcohol and substance abuse, and other nonacute medical concerns; and follow up as needed to provide additional healing, treatment, or collection of evidence. This exam is referred to as the “forensic medical examination” under the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA). (A National Protocol for Sexual Assault Medical Forensic Examinations, page 17).  

Medical Screening Examination (MSE) – an examination required by the Emergency Medical Treatment and Active Labor Act to determine whether or not a patient has an emergency medical condition or is in active labor. All emergency departments are required to provide this examination to every patient presenting to the emergency department requesting care, unless the patient meets the limited exceptions described in the rules interpreting the law.

Memorandum of Understanding – is a written agreement between two parties. It is less formal than a contract.

Mental Capacity – is the ability for a person to make their own decisions. A patient can lack capacity either temporarily or permanently.

Mental Competency – is a legal term that indicates a person has the legal ability to make decisions for themselves.

Mission Statement – a statement that defines the purpose of an organization.

Multidisciplinary Approach – involves working with several disciplines to create a comprehensive approach to a problem.

Multidisciplinary Teams – are agencies partnering together to provide interagency, coordinated responses that make victims' needs a priority, hold offenders accountable, and promote public safety. (OVC)

Non-Accidental Trauma (NAT) – in an injury deliberately inflicted on a child.

Nurse Practice Act – is a state law that defines the scope of practice for nurses.

Office for Victims of Crime (OVC) – administers the Crime Victims Fund (the Fund), which is financed by fines and penalties paid by convicted federal offenders, not from tax dollars. Federal revenues deposited into the Fund also come from gifts, donations, and bequests by private parties. OVC channels funding for victim compensation and assistance throughout the United States, raises awareness about victims’ issues, promotes compliance with victims’ rights laws, and provides training and technical assistance and publications and products to victim assistance professionals. OVC is part of the Office of Justice Programs at the U.S. Department of Justice.

Office on Violence Against Women (OVW) – a component of the U.S. Department of Justice, provides federal leadership in developing the national capacity to reduce violence against women and administer justice for and strengthen services to victims of domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, and stalking.

Patient-Centered Care – is care that is respectful of and responsive to individual patient preferences, needs, and values, and ensures that patient values guide all clinical decisions. (IOM)

Patient Confidentiality – is an ethical principle associated with medical and social services professions.

Peer Review – is the evaluation of work by other members of the field.

Quality Caring Model © – is a midrange nursing theory that emphasizes the value of caring relationships to quality health outcomes.

Rape – is penetration, no matter how slight, of the vagina or anus with any body part or object, or oral penetration by a sex organ of another person, without the consent of the victim. (Uniform Crime Report)

Recognition of Community Uniqueness – is a concept used in this Guide to encourage communities to develop programs and services that are compatible and sustainable with the populations served and the available resources.

SANE Sustainability Project – is a project funded by the Office on Violence Against Women to provide programmatic technical assistance to SANE programs struggling to maintain operation. The project continues to provide information about program development and operation. (NSVRC)

Sexual Assault Response Team (SART) – is a group of specially trained members of health care, law enforcement, prosecution, and advocacy that work together to provide health care and advocacy services to victims of sexual assault, while investigating sexual assault cases for the purpose of criminal prosecution.

Sexual Violence – is a sexual act committed against someone without that person’s freely given consent. (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention)

Sex Workers – are individuals whose work involves sexually explicit behavior.

Trauma-Informed Care – is care that involves seeking to understand the connection between presenting symptoms and behaviors and the individual’s past trauma history. (Hoda)

Unconscious patient – is a patient who, due to trauma, illness, or ingestion of drugs or alcohol, is not able to respond verbally or in a purposeful way physically.  

Victim Advocate – member of the multidisciplinary team whose only responsibility is to provide support to the sexual assault survivor. 

Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) – is a comprehensive legislative package designed to end violence against women. It was first enacted in 1994.