The Sexual Assault Forensic Examination (SAFE) & Domestic Violence (DV) Program offers a private Facebook group for victims looking for support. Contact Valerie Weir at email@example.com or call the SAFE & DV office at 443-849-3323 to learn how to gain access to this group.
You are not alone. We are here to help.Domestic and sexual violence does not discriminate, and many victims do not seek available services for help. Often, abusive situations leave the survivor feeling overwhelmed, hopeless, or at a loss for how to effectively cope with the trauma.
Recovery in the early days after suffering a trauma can be challenging. As uncomfortable as it may sound, sharing difficult thoughts and feelings in a group setting can be an extremely effective part of the healing process.
The main purpose of the GBMC Sexual Assault/Abuse and Domestic Violence Support Group is to facilitate emotional well-being among victims of sexual assault, domestic violence, intimate partner violence, and human trafficking through an educational and supportive group environment.
It is our hope that survivors will also find a safe space to reflect and connect with others in similar situations, learn more about the dynamics of trauma and abuse, practice tools for self-care, learn effective coping mechanisms for healing, and feel empowered and confident in their recovery journeys.
With early intervention, post-trauma symptoms can be managed. With ongoing support and resources, they can often be eliminated.
Program DetailsThe GBMC Sexual Assault/Abuse and Domestic Violence Support Group meets:
- First and third Wednesdays of each month from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m.
- Civiletti Conference Center on GBMC’s campus (Physicians Pavilion East, 6565 N. Charles St. Towson, MD 21204).
Group GuidelinesIn the beginning of each meeting, participants establish a “comfort agreement.” These guidelines ensure that all participants feel at ease while sharing difficult and personal experiences.
1. Treat all group discussion with respect. Offer respect for individual choices and experiences.
2. Keep what is said in the group within the group. This protects individuals’ privacy.
3. Allow one person to talk at a time.
4. Silence all electronic devices.
5. Do not dominate the conversation. Everyone gets a turn to speak.
6. Create a safe place to share feelings, get and give support, reassurance, and encouragement.
7. Be flexible. The discussion will flow with the participants’ needs, interests, and will provide an opportunity to reduce isolation in times of need.
8. Be open to all persons recovering from any sexual abuse and/or domestic violence situation.
9. Do not use the group to replace individual therapy.
10. Be honest.
FacilitatorsValerie Weir, BSN, RN, FNE-A/P, and Lisa Brengle, BSN, RN, FNE-A/P, will serve as the facilitators for the group. Together, they have more than ten years of experience in the areas of sexual abuse and domestic violence. Their role is to guide the group and facilitate emotional well-being among all participants. If participants would like to seek additional psychotherapy services following a meeting, discuss this with a facilitator or call the Sexual Assault Forensic Examination (SAFE) office to speak with another forensic nurse at 443-849-3323.
BSN, RN, FNE-A/P, SANE-A
Clinical Program Manager, SAFE Program
Laura has been a Registered Nurse for 11 years. In 2010 she completed her Forensic Nursing training at Greater Baltimore Medical Center and joined the GBMC team as a Forensic Nurse Examiner. She has been the Clinical Program Manager of the GBMC SAFE & Domestic Violence Program since 2014 and oversee’s all aspects of the program. She is certified to care for patients across the lifespan that have been victims of sexual assault, rape, child abuse/ neglect, intimate partner violence and human trafficking. Laura obtained National professional certification as a Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner (SANE-A) from the International Association of Forensic Nurses in 2013. She has extensive experience in Emergency and Pediatric Emergency Nursing.
Laura is a Board of Nursing approved Forensic Nurse Examiner Instructor in the State of Maryland and has taught and precepted registered nurses and physicians from all over the country. She is an active member of the International Association of Forensic Nurses, as well as the Maryland Child Abuse Medical Providers (CHAMP), and is Chair of the Baltimore County Sexual Assault Response team. In May of 2017 she was nationally recognized for her work, and was awarded the title of “America’s Most Amazing Nurse” by Prevention Magazine and The Doctors television show, and additionally awarded Baltimore County’s Woman of the Year in 2018. Laura has been happily married to her firefighter husband, and has two little ones at home. In her free time she enjoys going to the beach and spending time with her friends and family.
Community Outreach Coordinator
Ms. Truax joined the GBMC SAFE and DV team in September of 2018. She holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Sociology from Mount Saint Mary's University. She was born and raised in Baltimore County, and has very strong ties to the Baltimore County Community.
Her professional experience started at John Hopkins Bayview Center for Addiction and Pregnancy as the Intake/Outreach Coordinator with a focus on domestic violence treatment and health comorbidities, in addition to providing services to children who attended the program with their mother. Mrs.Truax has been involved in the school systems throughout Baltimore County for numerous years. She has coached girls’ soccer and lacrosse at both Dulaney High School, as well as Eastern Technical High School, was a Life Skills Instructor in the Special Education Department at Chesapeake High School and a science teacher at The Arrow School. More recently, she was working at Service Coordination Inc. Her role included providing support to adults and children with intellectual and developmental disabilities by connecting them with much neededresources and services within their immediate communities.
In addition to her work experience, over the past 4 years she has worked closely with the GBMC SAFE & Domestic Violence Program. Kelly is an approved instructor for the GBMC 40-Hour Forensic Nurse Examiner Course, educating aspiring Forensic Nurses on the topic of “Sexual Assault and Individuals With Disabilities” and “Disability Awareness and Rights”. She also presented at the GBMC Critical Care Nursing Conference, and the GBMC Neurobiology of Trauma Conference which was attended by numerous nurses, law enforcement officers, social workers and prosecutors from the Baltimore County community. She has completed the 40 hour Child Exploitation Course through the Baltimore County Police Department and is a certified application assistant through Safe At Home.
BSN, RN, FNE-A/P, CMSRN
Domestic Violence Program Coordinator
Valerie holds a Bachelor's of Science in Nursing Degree from Villa Julie College. She has been a Registered Nurse since 2005. Throughout the almost 20 years that Valerie has been at GBMC she has held many positions and filled many roles in areas of gynecological and women's health. Valerie completed her Forensic Nurse training at GBMC in 2015 and joined the GBMC SAFE Program. She currently holds certifications to provide care to adolescents/adults, as well as pediatrics. She is certified to care for patients across the lifespan that have been victims of sexual assault, rape, child physical & sexual abuse, intimate partner violence, and human trafficking. She has been a great asset and support in aiding the SAFE and Domestic Violence Programs in expanding their pediatric resources and focus. In 2018, Valerie seamlessly transitioned into the Domestic Violence Coordinator role within the SAFE/DV Program.
In addition to her work within the hospital, Valerie has made community education a priority. She has assisted in, and lead lectures in county high schools, colleges, and other organizations within Baltimore County on healthy relationships, boundaries, internet safety, strangulation, domestic and intimate partner violence, and the services offered at GBMC. Valerie is Chair for the GBMC Domestic Violence Advisory Board. She is an active member of the Baltimore County Sexual Assault Response Team (SART), as well as the Maryland Child Abuse Medical Providers (CHAMP). In addition, Ms. Weir participates on the Baltimore County Domestic Violence Coordinating Council, GBMC's Center for the Protection of Children, and the Maryland Health Care Coalition Against Domestic Violence.
Valerie is a lifelong resident of Maryland. She is a mother to three amazing tiny humans, and two four-legged fur children
Ally graduated Villa Julie College with a BSN and later an MSN from University of Maryland with concentrations in Nursing Education and Health Policy. She then joined the GBMC family as a Nurse Educator and Clinical Nurse Specialist for Outpatient Surgery. She also was an Instructor several semesters to nursing students at Stevenson University. Ally has stayed close to her perioperative and education roots, but always had an interest in forensics. Raising 2 teenage children made her particularly interested in being a Forensic Nurse and doing educational outreach in our community. She has been part of the SAFE Program since 2016 and is certified to care for patients across the lifespan. Outside of work Ally enjoys running both with and without her dogs.
Pam joined the SAFE team in 2017, and is Certified to care for patients across the lifespan. Her past experience includes work at the Kennedy Krieger Institute where she served as a Research Coordinator. She is currently a part-time nursing faculty member at American Public University System and serves on the Board of Directors of No More Stolen Childhoods, this organization’s mission is prevention of child sexual abuse and funding therapy for those affected.
Susan has over 15 years of nursing experience, including ICU, CCU, ED, nursing administration and currently care management. She earned her associate nursing degree at Essex Community College, her BSN and Master’s degree at the University of Maryland, and finally her Doctorate of Nursing Practice at Chamberlain College of Nursing. She began as a forensic nurse at GBMC in 2011, taking a break from 2014-2018 to pursue advanced degrees and administrative employment. She enjoys vacationing at Walt Disney World, hiking with her rescue dog, Ralphie and enjoying water activities such as kayaking.
Tess graduated from Stevenson University in 2014 with a Bachelor's in Nursing. She learned of forensic nursing when she was in nursing school and knew immediately she wanted to become a forensic nurse. After graduating nursing school, she began working for University of Maryland Medical Center on an Acute Neurocare floor and she is still there today. In 2017 she took the plunge and obtained her certification to be a Forensic Nurse Examiner and began working for GBMC. Tess is certified to care for patients across the lifespan. While not at work she enjoys reading and spending quality time (like binge watching Netflix) with her husband, daughter, and two pups.
Evette: Evette has been a Registered Nurse for 5 years. She works on a busy med-surg unit in the roles of staff RN, Charge RN, unit education council representative, & preceptor. Evette is a veteran of the U.S. Military & has previous careers in management, teaching, as well as an on-air radio/podcast co-producer & co-host. Three of the important goals she likes to provide for her patients are clarity, compassion, and a sense of autonomy & trustworthiness. Evette enjoys spending time with her kid, traveling, laughing at all things, and anywhere there is music, you will find her singing & dancing, even at work, with her patients & colleagues.
Roz is a Forensic Nurse Examiner at Greater Baltimore Medical Center in Baltimore County. She graduated from the University of Maryland School of Nursing and has over 18 years nursing experience. She also worked as a Forensic Investigator in Maryland for nine years, performing death investigations in Baltimore County. She is an active member of the International Association of Forensic Nurses, the Academy of Forensic Nursing, Maryland Child Abuse Medical Professionals, and the Baltimore County Sexual Assault Response Team. Roz is passionate about treatment of Domestic Violence patients and has educated judges, prosecutors, police, medical personnel, advocates and first responders in the fire department in Baltimore County and surrounding counties in Maryland on the topic of non-fatal strangulation. In her spare time Rosalyn likes to read mystery novels, and she loves to cook.
Sara has been nurse for 8 years after receiving her Bachelors of Science in Nursing in 2011 from Widener University in Chester, Pennsylvania. She has been a Forensic Nurse since 2015 and is certified to care for patients across the lifespan. When she is not working as a SAFE nurse at GBMC, she is as a psychiatric-mental health nurse at MedStar Franklin Square. Sara became interested in being a SAFE nurse while working with adolescents and realizing that the majority of them have either witnessed or personally experienced sexual assault, abuse or violence within their own home. In her spare time, she enjoys traveling, spending time with family, and listening to music. She also enjoys watching the Ravens games, crafting and doing DIY projects. She has 2 dogs- a Chihuahua/Dachshund named Coco and a Pit/Lab named Blaze, as well as a Maine Coon cat, named Rummy.
Evelyn graduated from Villa Julie College with a Bachelor’s of Science in nursing. She began her nursing career, 24 years ago, at R. Adams Cowley Shock Trauma Center, but most of her nursing career was spent working the night shift in a Baltimore city emergency room. She volunteered for several years as an EMT with a local Volunteer Fire Department. Currently, Evelyn is certified as a pediatric and adolescent/adult forensic nurse examiner (FNE) and holds the national level of certification through the International Association of Forensic Nurses. She has been working as a forensic nurse examiner for the last seven years of her nursing career. She teaches forensic evaluation of gunshot wounds, forensic experiential trauma techniques (FETI), forensic photography and injury interpretation. Evelyn is currently working in training her German shepherd puppy, Violet, in obedience in hopes that one day she will become a therapy dog; providing comfort for victims and a reprieve for the nurses. Evelyn is married to a wonderful man, who supports all her endeavors, and has two beautiful daughters and five pets.
Melissa has been a nurse since 1996. She became a Forensic Nurse Examiner in 2017 and is certified to care for patients across the lifespan. Her past nursing experience consists of ICU and ER nursing as Senior Clinical Nurse at The University of Maryland Medical Center. Melissa is a Certified Emergency Nurse and a MD-DC chapter member of The Emergency Nurses Association and International Association of Forensic Nurses. She believes there is a holistic approach taken to helping people who have been victims of violence and is truly passionate about the work she does.
Melissa has been married for 19 years and is a mom of 2 teenage boys, 3 rescue dogs and a cat with a major attitude. When she’s not working, she loves being at the beach, spending time with her friends, riding the Peloton and traveling.
Bobbi has 40+ years of experience in psychiatry and mental health which includes inpatient, outpatient, community and 4 ½ years as a clinical instructor. She has been a Forensic Nurse for five years. Bobbi believes that her work in this field is important to meeting the needs of individuals who may have just experienced the most traumatic experience in their lives. She believes her work, patience and gentle guidance is important for laying the ground work for the patients to begin reclaiming the control they lost. Barbara’s work as a clinical instructor for Psychiatry and mental health is also rewarding and important as it provides her the opportunities to help students to not only learn about individuals diagnosed with mental illness but also learn and apply the tenets of therapeutic communication which will be transferable to any nursing specialty.
When Bobbi isn’t busy working, she enjoys spending time with family, dancing, and baking.
Ashley has been a nurse with GBMC since 2012 and became a member of the SAFE program in 2014. She holds certifications as a FNE-A and FNE-P through the Maryland Board of Nursing and is certified to care for patients across the lifespan. Ashley also obtained national certification as a SANE-A in 2017 through the International Association of Forensic Nursing. Ashley’s professional interests include human trafficking with a focus on education and awareness. She was recently named the Human Trafficking Liaison for GBMC. In 2018, Ashley was awarded the Nancy J. Petrarca Compassionate Caregiver of the Year Award for her work with human trafficking victims. Ashley enjoys music, hiking, and spending time with family and friends. Ashley lives in Baltimore County with her husband, daughter, and dog Cora.
Brandy graduated from Coppin State University in 2015 with her Bachelor’s in nursing. She has worked for GBMC in various departments since 2008. After graduating she took a position on a telemetry unit at GBMC, after a year she decided to follow her passion and take a position in the Emergency Department at GBMC. Brandy has since joined the leadership team, and is the team lead of the Peer Recovery Coaches in the Emergency Department. She learned about forensic nursing in her senior year of high school. Since then she made it a personal goal to join the SAFE nursing team. Brandy has been a member of the GBMC SAFE team since 2017. She uses her positions at GBMC to further gain knowledge for the best of her patients. Brandy is certified to care for patients across a lifespan. She attended the International Association of Forensic Nurses conference in Reno, Nevada in 2018 with three other members of the SAFE team. When not at work Brandy enjoys traveling, watching football, spending time with her friends, hanging with her 2 gigantic dogs and long motorcycle rides.
BSN, RN, FNE-A/P
In 2013, Lisa Brengle obtained her Forensic Nurse Examiner of adolescent/ adults’ certification at Greater Baltimore Medical Center, where she currently works with the SAFE program. Lisa expanded her forensic nursing training in 2016 and obtained her certification in Forensic Nursing- Pediatrics. She is certified to care for patients across the lifespan. She holds Bachelors of Science in nursing from Stevenson University and is currently enrolled in the Master’s Program at Towson University pursuing a degree in Nursing Education.
Lisa is involved in the community and participates in medical missions to serve the less fortunate. She is a part of the Baltimore County Sexual Assault Response Team and Maryland Child Abuse Medical Providers group. She has extensive training and a wide knowledge base in the neurobiology of trauma, operating room nursing, and clinical research. In her spare time Lisa enjoys traveling and spending time with her family, friends and fur babies.