PROJECTExamining the Implementation of the SAFE Protocol


A National Snapshot and Case Study Analysis

a woman doctor looking at a vitals chart

Released in 2013, the second edition of the National Protocol for Sexual Assault Medical Forensic Examinations, or SAFE Protocol, is a voluntary guide developed by the Department of Justice that assists local and state jurisdictions with their responses to sexual assault. It institutionalizes best practices around survivor care and evidence collection, particularly for sexual assault nurse examiners completing medical forensic examinations.

In 2018, the Urban Institute and the International Association of Forensic Nurses were funded by the Office on Violence Against Women to conduct an evaluation of the SAFE Protocol with the aim of understanding the extent to which its provisions have been implemented across the United States. This mixed-methods study incorporates the perspectives of stakeholders in the sexual assault response system at the state and local levels. Data collection activities included a census of state sexual assault coalitions, a census of state Violence Against Women Act administrators, a national survey of sexual assault nurse examiner programs, a survey of advocates from nonprofit sexual assault service providers and rape crisis centers, and case studies with local stakeholders involved in sexual assault responses.

The project’s practitioner-oriented products summarize findings and recommendations in accessible formats and cover the following topics:

Check back soon for forthcoming journal articles and blogs.


This project was supported by Grant No. 2018-SI-AX-0002 awarded by the Office on Violence Against Women, US Department of Justice. The opinions, findings, conclusions, and recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the U.S. Department of Justice, or those of the Urban Institute, its trustees, or its funders.

Research Areas Crime, justice, and safety
Policy Centers Justice Policy Center