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Nathalie Crowley has created a life helping others face adversity

In Nathalie Crowley's work, a record month is cause for concern. Crowley coordinates the Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner program at the Program for Aid to Victims of Sexual Assault. This means that she works with nurses, hospitals and law enforceme...

Nathalie Crowley
Nathalie Crowley of PAVSA helps victims of sexual assault navigate the police paperwork and process of healing. Steve Kuchera / skuchera@duluthnews.com

In Nathalie Crowley's work, a record month is cause for concern.

Crowley coordinates the Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner program at the Program for Aid to Victims of Sexual Assault. This means that she works with nurses, hospitals and law enforcement to provide medical exams to victims of sexual assault in the Northland.

Regrettably, the number of tests that she has had to ensure is more than she would like.

"On average we'll see anywhere between 10 to 15 survivors a month," Crowley said. "Over the six years of the program, we have had over 650 exams ordered."

July saw 28 exams ordered. A record, Crowley said.

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The community-based program has nurses undergo intense training in taking photographs and DNA evidence. The sexual assault survivors are not the only ones who appreciate the service.

"Law enforcement and prosecutors love the detail we put into our examination," Crowley said.

After the exams are completed, program coordinators walk the survivors through the process of filing reports with police and follow up with them at a later date. Whether the victim goes on to therapy or working with prosecutors, program staff try to stay with them, Crowley said.

"I'm just an administrative position, but at the same time, I know that I'm helping people at what could be the worst point of their life," Crowley said. "It's nice to know that my work is allowing them to go through this process of healing a little faster and a little better."

Crowley herself has faced adversity in the community. Born male, Crowley completed her physical transition to female in her adulthood. With a supportive network of family and friends, she was able to go through with her transition.

For those uncomfortable in their gender skin who many not have a supportive network, Crowley and friend Shelby James started the Lake Superior Transgender Group a year and a half ago to provide social therapy for transgender individuals and their families in the area.

"I put on 20,000 miles on my car because I had to go to the Cities for any support or appointments related to transitions," Crowley said. "We want to give people a safe place to come to in town."

Normal group meetings include introductions, talk about transitions, medical coverage, relationships and entertainment. It's more of a social group than a therapy group, Crowley said.

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Juxtaposing Crowley's serious work is her hobby of cake making.

"Cooking is like an ephemeral piece of art," she said.

It may just be a hobby, but Crowley has helped friends bake their own wedding cakes. Her cakes also have made her popular in the workplace.

"You can really brighten people's day at work if you bring a chocolate cake. Everyone loves chocolate cake," she said.

Lake Superior Transgender Group meetings are open to anyone. Meetings are on the first and third Tuesday of every month at 7 p.m. at 104 W. Superior St.

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