Recently, I had the pleasure of working on-site with sexual assault nurse examiner and advocate SART participants at the Rosebud Sioux Indian Reservation, in South Dakota. After the 40-hour event, each candidate was awarded didactic CEUs for their respective disciplines and will take their place in the Rosebud Sioux Tribe SART, which is sponsored by the White Buffalo Calf Woman Society (https://www.wbcws.org).
I always appreciate the opportunity to work with the nurses and advocates at Rosebud. It was especially rewarding and interesting this time having a tribal member who shared experiences from her Indian boarding school days. It was a reminder not to assume we know what is best for others.
The Rosebud SART, which currently has 8 members, began in 2005. Members include SANEs, advocates, law enforcement, prosecutors and other community members. The SART meets once a month to discuss open cases and how to improve their collaboration for the benefit of sexual assault victims on the reservation.
According to Janet Routzen, the executive director of the White Buffalo Calf Woman Society, and sponsor of the Rosebud SART, “Our goal is to always respect the wishes of the survivor, support them in their decisions, and provide opportunities for them to participate in healing and justice. We would not be able to have the justice victims deserve if were not communicating on a regular basis and overcoming barriers and issues, Janet said.”
1 in 3 American/Alaskan Native women will be raped in their lifetime.
Sexual violence in Indian Country remains at epidemic proportions (2-3 times the national average). Responding appropriately to the crime of sexual assault in Indian Country is often made more challenging by limited access to first responder resources, the large distances they are required to cover and the jurisdictional maze tribal communities must navigate among tribal, state, local and federal law enforcement agencies and courts. In some cases, the difficulty of determining criminal jurisdiction translates into untimely action, or, worse still, no action at all.
Through programs such as SANE-SART Online+Clinical, and other resources, there are approximately 20 SARTs in Indian Country. Each is responding to the challenge of caring for and supporting victims of sexual assault as they spearhead rape investigations, successfully prosecute perpetrators, exonerate the falsely accused, and help survivors obtain justice and to heal.
Because each SART is tailored to fit the individual communities that they serve, tribes can incorporate others into their team including: SAFESTARs, 911 emergency dispatchers, emergency medical services, corrections, sex offender management professionals, hospitals, elders, and others.
That’s where you come in. Getting a SART off the ground requires a champion. How about you?
And you don’t have to go it on your own, either. There are many resources and tools available to help mobilize community support, recruit team members and successfully operate your SART.
For instance, the U.S. Department of Justice Office for Victims of Crimes has an excellent SART toolkit. The National Sexual Violence Resource Center has an extensive directory of tools and resources for starting and operating a SART.
Additionally, the National Indian Country Clearinghouse on Sexual Assault (NICCSA), has prepared a variety of resources that will be of interest, including this information about the SART model in Indian Country: SARTs in Indian Country.
You can also view and download the video, Break The Silence: Sexual Assault and the SART Solution. It’s an excellent tool for communicating the value of a SART for rape victims.
By leading or helping to form a SART in your community, you’ll take a big step ahead in meeting that need.
Linda Ledray, RN, PhD, SANE-A, FAAN
SANE-SART Resource Service