2 Aug 2015

Start a SART:
Many tools and resources are available

Last in a three-part series on the impact and importance of sexual assault response teams (SARTs)

Since their inception in the 1970s, Sexual assault response teams, or SARTs, have become valuable community assets for supporting rape victims, investigating the crime, prosecuting perpetrators and seeing justice served.

Today, more than 700 SARTs operate throughout the U.S. That number will grow as more people become aware of the SART concept and its benefits. This 3-part blog is one way of introducing SARTs to a wider audience.

I hope you’re interested in learning more about SARTs or forming one. If so, you’ll find plenty of help to get a team started and keep it going.

Browse a big library of resources.

A variety of national and even international organizations have developed catalogs of free practical information, guidelines, procedures and tools for organizing, training and operating a SART.

You can find most of these resources online. A Google search using a phrase such as, “sexual assault resource team support training” will return nearly a million hits. However, the first two or three pages of results will identify most or all of the most valuable resources.

Several web pages or sites you should definitely access are these:

  • National Sexual Violence Resource Center – The NSVR has built a comprehensive library of SART research, information and policies and procedures. Among other resources, you’ll find a SART listserv for dialogue and information sharing among community and professional organizations that respond to sexual violence, and an in-depth toolkit covering SART development and practices. Visit https://www.nsvrc.org/projects/sexual-assault-response-teams-sart-0 This page also lists other NSRV resources that address sexual violence.
  • End Violence Against Women International – EVAWI maintains a wide range of online publications on topics such as SART overview, SART evaluation and SART practice/protocol standards. There are also training modules that address sustaining a SART and developing SARTs in rural and remote communities. Visit https://www.evawintl.org/PAGEID7/Best-Practices/Resources/SARRTs.
  • Oklahoma Sexual Assault Response Team Handbook – This is one of several comprehensive state- and city-level SART handbooks available online, several of which are also listed at the EVAWI site. Visit https://www.orcpi.com/SARTHandbook.pdf.
  • SANE-SART Online + Clinical – This program provides online and onsite interactive learning for SART members, specifically sexual assault nurse examiners (SANEs), law enforcement, victim advocates and prosecutors/legal professionals. As part of the online portion of the program, a pre-requisite course addresses SART development, policies and procedures[1].

Your community needs a SART.

Sexual assault is endemic, not just in the US but also worldwide. Even one rape is one too many—and more than 700 rapes occur in this country every day.

But there is good news. In recent years, awareness and discussion of the crime have steadily grown.

Just as important, the U.S. justice system is placing more emphasis on supporting victims. Not only can a SART take the lead in providing a more compassionate, victim-centered approach to rape, its work can also help begin to change community misconceptions about the victim and the crime.

For all these reasons, I encourage you to learn more about a SART, and if possible take part in forming one in your community.

If you’re not in a position to be part of a SART program, and if you know someone who can be, please make her or him aware of my blog.

Your support or participation in a SART can improve support for sexual assault victims in your community—as well as help bring about more effective investigation and prosecution of the crime.

Feel free to comment. If you have questions, contact me at linda.ledray@sane-sart.com.

[1] By way of full disclosure, I am the principal subject matter expert for the online portion and also lead the on-site learning team . Visit sane-sart.com for more information. Upon completion, the tuition-based program provides a significant number of continuing education units for RNs, victim advocates, law enforcement and prosecutors and legal professionals.

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