Hold Team Meetings . Monitor and Evaluate Your Efforts . Sustain Your SART . Know Your Team . Critical Issues
Identify Opportunities for Collaboration
To determine collaborative opportunities, begin by considering natural allies (e.g., individuals or groups with a stake in the prevention and/or intervention of sexual assault). Are there local agencies and organizations that have grant funding that mandates that they collaborate? Are there organizations from surrounding communities that are willing and available to collaborate?
For example, in 2004, the Secretary of Defense sent a directive to all military branches regarding collaboration with civilian authorities to support sexual assault victims. The memorandum stated that it is U.S. Department of Defense policy that military installations in the United States (and overseas, where appropriate) shall establish a formal memorandum of understanding with local community service providers and other military services.
Nellis Air Force Base, located just minutes from the Strip on the edge of Las Vegas, works closely with the community-based rape crisis center. The civilian-military partnership is positioned to meet the needs of 60,000 potential military beneficiaries. To generate public awareness of the coordinated civilian-military services, the base's Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Office generates public awareness materials that include the phone numbers of both the military's sexual assault response coordinator and the rape crisis center.
Source: Suzanne Moore and Kristina Heick, Innovations for Program Success, Nellis AFB, NV: Nellis Air Force Base, 2006.
Core first responders to sexual violence are natural allies. Depending on the jurisdiction, this includes advocates, law enforcement officials, sexual assault forensic examiners, prosecutors, and forensic laboratory personnel. In addition, consider groups and social structures that might stand to gain by supporting the creation of a SART. They could include educational institutions, public health agencies, substance abuse agencies, faith-based organizations, domestic violence agencies, and mental health facilities, among others. A good approach for identifying natural allies is to look creatively within the jurisdiction and assess which service providers might assist victims medically, legally, economically, spiritually, psychologically, or financially.
Although not specifically a SART, an example of a comprehensive community partnership is the Ann Patterson Dooley Family Safety Center in Tulsa, Oklahoma. The center houses community partners that include a domestic violence/sexual assault advocacy center; the Retired Senior Volunteer Program (provides clerical help and victim services); the District Attorney's Office; the Sheriff's Office; the Police Department; a faith-based organization; and the Multicultural Service Center. The site offers direct services to clients and provides a convenient location for partners to inform each other of interagency issues that need to be addressed to coordinate or improve services.
Partnerships, beyond providing direct services, may also help your planning and outreach efforts. For example, local corporations and businesses might be able to donate meeting spaces and equipment, such as photocopiers and computers. Businesses, whether large or small, may help by publishing SART documents, providing technological expertise for interagency communications and data collection, or offering direct financial support for your overhead expenses.
Tapping local resources not only helps implement and sustain SARTs, it is a strategic form of public awareness that can prompt more community ownership in both the prevention of sexual violence and intervention when it occurs.