In the trauma and aftermath of sexual assault, victims need a lot of help including clothing and personal hygiene items.

The Casper Police Department and the Wyoming Oil and Gas Conservation Commission joined to create sexual assault care packages as part of the Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner Program at the Wyoming Medical Center, a department spokeswoman said Wednesday.

These nurses have specialized training to treat victims of sexual abuse and they are often the victims' first contract with authorities after the traumatic event.

After the exam is done, the victims often need to leave behind their clothes for evidence in the rape kit, and the only clothing option is hospital scrubs, Rebekah Ladd said.

"Our goal would be to not only to let these victims know that they are loved and cared for and supported, but maybe not force them to leave the hospital in scrubs and that might be identifiable in any way that they have been through a traumatic event," Ladd said.

The conservation commission approached the police department about doing a service project, and donated the clothing for 40 packages, she said.

The packages have a note from the department's victim services unit letting victims know that help is available, Ladd said.

Other items include mint and gum, a personal alarm keychain, personal care items and a set of clothing -- leggings and T-shirt -- in various sizes, she said. "Our goal again with this is something nonidentifiable."

Some packages are unisex and are appropriate for every victim, Ladd added.

DeeAnne Parker, office support specialist with the Oil and Gas Commission, said in a news release that the commission has supported many nonprofit organizations.

"However, sexual assault is a very sensitive and sometimes uncomfortable topic," Parker said.

The joint effort is part of the on-going "Start by Believing" campaign to change the culture around sexual assault by asking people to simply start by believing victims, Ladd said.

The campaign was the catalyst for the packages, she said.

"Essentially that's the goal of getting everybody -- not just police officers, not just nurses -- to start any type of sexual assault case by believing what the victim is telling you and going from there," Ladd said.


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