Q&A with sexual assault nurse examiner Mindi Robles
By Sam Dier
Between strict stay-at-home orders and the uncertainty of the virus, the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic made many reluctant to leave their homes, let alone visit an emergency room riddled with cases. Health care professionals were quick to notice the surge in COVID-19 patients masked the sudden plunge in other emergency room visits, such as sexual assault. According to the Chicago Police Department, from 2020 to 2021, Chicago saw a 28% decrease in reported sexual assault cases, leading people like Mindi Robles, the west region sexual assault nurse examiner coordinator at Northwestern Memorial Hospital, to raise concerns about the safety of her potential patients.
Knowing very well that most sexual assaults are perpetrated by someone the victim knows, Robles and her team worried that decrease in numbers meant one thing: Victims were being assaulted by those they were quarantining with.
As pandemic restrictions have eased, the number of sexual assault cases have surpassed prepandemic numbers after the first year of COVID-19. Robles spoke about her experience on the frontlines during the pandemic, the many resources available for survivors of assault and what the role in helping to heal a vulnerable population throughout a pandemic means to her.