Are All SARTs the Same?
Although SARTs are frequently defined as sexual assault response teams, they also are referred to as sexual assault resource teams or suspected abuse response teams. According to the Report on the National Needs Assessment of Sexual Assault Response Teams, authored by the National Sexual Violence Resource Center, other communities call their coordinated approaches multidisciplinary response teams (MDTs), sexual assault interagency councils (SAICs), child/adult abuse response teams (CARTs) and sexual assault multidisciplinary action response teams (SMARTs).
The SART model has become the standard for responding to victims of sexual assault. Models range from informal, cooperative partnerships to more formalized coordinated, multidisciplinary responses on local, regional, state, tribal, or territory levels. SARTs function in various ways and often provide a wide range of services.
In general, SARTs
- Support victims' rights.
- Commit to meeting victims' needs.
- Organize their service delivery to enhance evidence collection.
- Educate the community about available intervention and prevention services.
Teams often define themselves by the level of cooperation and collaboration among members. For example, sexual assault resource teams generally include medical, legal, and advocacy agencies or organizations that cooperate and communicate with each other while serving victims. Most resource teams have cooperative interagency understandings, host regularly scheduled team meetings, and share resources and expertise. However, the team members and their agencies maintain their own guidelines and protocols rather than establishing a collaborative team identity. This model allows multiple agencies to monitor the overall effectiveness of interagency responses, review the consequences of those responses for criminal justice proceedings, and address emerging issues proactively.
In This Toolkit: Protocols
SARTs that define themselves as response teams activate and dispatch team members (law enforcement officers, forensic medical examiners, advocates, and sometimes prosecutors) in a coordinated fashion to provide integrated and immediate responses following sexual assaults. The primary advantage of a response team model is that it minimizes the number of contacts that victims must initially make to receive quality medical, legal, and advocacy services. Because response team members are activated together, the specific roles and responsibilities of participating agencies are interwoven into team guidelines and protocols that coordinate interdisciplinary responsibilities based on expertise.