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HL20: Kristine Aznavoorian, RN, MS—Working to Heal Sexually Abused Children

John Commins, for HealthLeaders Media, January 23, 2014

"The older the children are, the more they kind of get what is going on exactly," she says. "And depending upon what their unique situation is depends upon if they are going to be open to coming to see me, or if they are open to having an exam done. I never know what kind of child we are going to get and if they are going to be willing to see me or even talk to me."

"I try to go in as if I were with any of my patients, such as when I work as a staff nurse in the emergency room. I go in. I introduce myself. I am as friendly as possible. Children feel afraid if they feel certain vibes from medical professionals so I try to give off an open and friendly vibe. Every child reacts a little differently," Aznavoorian says.

"We try to keep the parents in the room. As the children get a little older and become adolescents then maybe they want a little more privacy and they don't want the parents around. But when they're younger we typically have the parents stay because they know their child well and they know best how to comfort their child," she says. "It takes a lot of patience, especially with younger children. But you work as slowly as possible just to make sure they are not afraid. We have a 'stop' rule. If the child is scared or upset or crying, we stop. We don't force the children to do anything they don't want to do. When it comes to evidence collection and an examination, we just try to do it as efficiently as possible without traumatizing the child any further than they already have been."

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