Hold Team Meetings . Monitor and Evaluate Your Efforts . Sustain Your SART . Know Your Team . Critical Issues
Advocates: Community-based advocates may have privileged communications with victims governed by state statute. Government-based advocates (e.g., court, prosecutor, law enforcement) generally do not have privileged communications with victims. Both community- and government-based advocates support victims by promoting their rights and assisting with their emotional, physical, psychological, economic, and spiritual needs.
Alternative/Traditional Healers (Folk Healers): "An individual recognized by a cultural group or tradition with the authority and power to perform rituals, ceremonies, or utilize medicinal substances for physical and spiritual healing."99
Anonymous Report: Anonymous reports (also known as blind reports or Jane Doe reports) allow victims to report sexual assaults without sacrificing confidentiality or filing complaints, and they enable investigators to learn about crimes that would otherwise go unreported.100 Some law enforcement departments and state laws mandate the use a pseudonym such as Jane Doe; other states collect evidence and make an anonymous report via tracking numbers.
Chain of Custody: The handling of evidence to ensure its integrity. Chain of custody must be maintained for the evidence to be admissible in court.
Combined DNA Index System (CODIS): The Federal Bureau of Investigation's CODIS blends forensic science and computer technology into a tool for solving violent crimes. It enables federal, state, and local crime laboratories to exchange and compare DNA profiles electronically, thereby linking crimes to each other and to convicted offenders.
Colposcope: An instrument with a light source and magnifying lens for direct observations and study of tissues. It may have a camera or other recording devices attached.
Crisis Hotline: A telephone line that has been dedicated (either local or toll free) for the purpose of providing 24-hour support and assistance to sexual assault victims and their friends and families.
Dispatcher: Public safety dispatchers (also known as emergency dispatchers and 911 operators) receive calls from individuals who need law enforcement, firefighter, or emergency medical assistance. Depending on the jurisdiction, dispatchers can be civilians or law enforcement officers.
Drug-Facilitated Sexual Assault: Generally used to define situations in which victims are subject to nonconsensual sexual acts while they are incapacitated or unconscious due to the effects of alcohol and other drugs and are therefore unable to give consent.
Emergency Medical Technician: An emergency responder trained to provide emergency medical services to the critically ill and injured. (See also Paramedic.)
Emergency Medical Treatment and Active Labor Act: This act requires hospital emergency departments to provide any individual coming to their premises with a medical screening exam to determine if an emergency condition or active pregnancy labor is present. If so, the hospital must supply either stabilization prior to transferring the patient or a certification (signed by the physician) that the transfer is appropriate.
Evidence Integrity: "Properly collecting, preserving, and maintaining the chain of custody of evidence" for use in criminal justice proceedings.101
Exam Facility: The site at which the forensic medical exam is performed, which, in most cases, is an emergency care facility (e.g., hospital). Other possibilities include clinics, community-based agencies, mobile units, law enforcement agencies, health clinics, local health departments, military hospitals/clinics, and college/university health service centers.102
Expert Witness: A witness with a specialized knowledge of a subject who is allowed to discuss an event and render an opinion in court even though he or she was not present during the sexual assault.
First Responder: A service provider who initially responds to a disclosure of a sexual assault. A wide range of potential responders may be involved, such as emergency medical technicians, law enforcement, community-based advocates, protective service workers, prosecutors, victim/witness staff, private physicians, staff from local health care facilities, mental health providers, social service workers, spiritual counselors or advisors, school personnel, employers, certified interpreters, and staff from community-based, culturally specific organizations.
Forensic Laboratory: City, county, state, federal, or private entities that analyze evidence collected during sexual assault investigations and report their findings to local, state, tribal, or federal governmental agencies.
Forensic Scientist: For purposes of the toolkit, "a forensic scientist is responsible for analyzing evidence in sexual assault cases. This evidence typically includes DNA and other biological evidence, toxicology samples, latent prints, and trace evidence. Some forensic scientists specialize in the analysis of specific types of evidence. . . . Scientists working in jurisdictional forensic laboratories are often referred to as [forensic laboratory personnel.] Forensic scientists analyzing drug and alcohol samples are also referred to as ‘toxicologists.'"103
Health Care Providers: These providers assess patients for acute medical needs; provide stabilization, treatment, and/or consultation; and may perform sexual assault forensic medical exams. In addition to sexual assault nurse examiners, other health care providers may help victims of sexual assault, including emergency medical technicians, hospital staff, gynecologists, surgeons, private physicians, and local, tribal, campus, or military health services personnel.104
Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA): HIPAA protects the security and privacy of patients' health information.
Indian Health Service: The federal agency within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services that is responsible for providing health services to American Indians and Alaska Natives in accord with the federal trust responsibility.
Intervention: Advocacy or support services following victimization.
Juvenile Sex Offender: Any person under the age of consent who has sexually abused or molested another person (adult or juvenile).
Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations: In 1992, this commission required health care facilities to have protocols on rape as well as other violent trauma. The initial standards were revised in 1997 to reflect the requirement that health care facilities develop criteria and teach staff how to recognize and respond to violent trauma, including sexual assault.
Judge Advocate: Judge advocates are military personnel who work in the Judge Advocate General's (JAG) Corps and deal with legal issues in the military.
Jurisdiction: "A community that has power to govern or legislate for itself" (e.g., locality, state, territory, tribal land, campus, military installation, national/state park).105
Law Enforcement: Many SART jurisdictions have more than one law enforcement authority that can respond to sexual assault, including city or county police, sheriff offices, highway patrol, park rangers, state police, tribal police, criminal investigators from the Bureau of Indian Affairs, military police, campus police or security, and the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
Legal Advocacy: Advocacy support and assistance through the criminal and civil justice process.
Medical Advocacy: Medical advocates support sexual assault victims through the evidence collection process, treatment of physical injuries, filing of compensation paperwork, and followup health care services (e.g., HIV/AIDS testing).
Mental Health: An individual's emotional and psychological well-being. According to the World Health Organization, there is not an official definition of mental health. In general, most experts agree that mental health and mental illness are not opposites. In other words, the absence of a recognized mental disorder is not necessarily an indicator of mental health.
Military Victim Advocate: Military personnel, U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) civilian employees, DoD contractors, or volunteers who facilitate care for victims of sexual assault under the Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Program, and who, on behalf of the sexual assault victim, refer victims to other organizations and agencies on victim care matters. Military victim advocates report directly to the sexual assault response coordinator when performing victim advocacy duties.
Paramedic: A highly trained medical professional who responds to medical and trauma emergencies in the pre-hospital setting, and stabilizes a patient's condition before and during transportation to an appropriate medical facility, usually by ambulance. Paramedics most often will transport patients to an emergency department but a treat-and-release practice can occur. (See also Emergency Medical Technician.)
Parole: The release of a prisoner whose term has not expired on condition of sustained lawful behavior that is subject to regular monitoring by an officer of the law for a set period.
Probation: A court-ordered disposition through which an adjudicated offender is placed under the control, supervision, and care of the Department of Corrections for a specified period.
Prosecutor: A governmental trial lawyer who investigates and tries criminal cases. Prosecutors are typically known as a district attorney, state's attorney, or United States attorney.
Pseudonym: In general, a pseudonym is an artificial name. Some jurisdictions have enacted laws allowing victims to use pseudonyms on all legal and medical documents to protect their anonymity.
Public Health: Public health addresses the physical, mental, and environmental health concerns of communities and populations at risk for disease and injury. Literally, public health officials analyze, monitor, treat, educate, research, manage, and enforce health policies for the public.
Rape Crisis Center: A center that provides crisis intervention services that typically include hotlines, counseling, advocacy, referrals to community services, support for secondary victims, and educational programs.
Restricted Reporting: A process used by military members to report sexual assaults to specified officials on a confidential basis.
Restitution: Repayment of damages by offenders, as ordered by the court.
Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner (SANE): A registered nurse or nurse practitioner who has completed advanced, specialized training and provides comprehensive care, timely collection of forensic evidence, and testimony to support legal proceedings of sexual assault cases. Other terms used by states include sexual assault forensic examiner, sexual assault examiner, sexual assault nurse clinician, and forensic nurse examiner.
SANE Program: A sexual assault nurse examiner (SANE) program reflects the concepts of sustained and coordinated response. A SANE program should have more than two nurses to maintain 24-hour coverage and usually has a lead person or coordinator to oversee policies and operations, participate in community efforts, and further develop the program. A SANE program actively participates in a multidisciplinary approach with co-responding agencies.
Sexual Assault Response Team (SART): A multidisciplinary team of individuals working collaboratively to provide a coordinated community response to sexual assault victims. Members usually include rape crisis and/or victim advocates, health care professionals, law enforcement officials, prosecutors, and crime lab personnel. Teams may have additional members to reflect the unique needs of a community. SARTs provide a competent response to sexual assault victims and increase reporting and conviction of sexual assault within the community. Some states use the SART model to respond to each sexual assault patient; in others, members meet periodically (e.g., monthly, quarterly) to review and discuss logistics, training, and personnel issues.
Secondary Victims: Parents, intimate partners, children, friends, and colleagues of sexual assault victims who are directly affected by the assault and who may need services.
Sexual Assault: Sexual contact without the other person's consent, committed by one or more persons. (See also What Is Sexual Assault in this toolkit.)
Sexual Assault Medical Forensic Examiners: Health care providers who examine victims of sexual assault and collect evidence of the assault.
Sexual Assault Medical Forensic Examination: During these exams, a victim's medical history is gathered, the victim is examined and treated, results are documented, and evidence is collected. Examiners also treat for sexually transmitted infections, assess pregnancy risk, discuss treatment options (e.g., reproductive health services), and provide instructions and referrals for followup care.106
Sexual Assault Evidence Collection Kit: These kits are used in collecting evidence from victims of sexual assault and can be created from scratch or purchased already made. At a minimum, they should contain the "kit container, instruction sheet and/or checklist, forms, and materials for collecting and preserving all evidence required by the applicable crime laboratory."107
Sexual Assault Response Coordinator (SARC): SARCs serve as the central point of contact at a military installation or within a geographic area to ensure that appropriate care is coordinated and provided to victims of sexual assault.
Sex Offender Management: A psycho-educational and management program that includes mandatory participation by offenders. Sex offender management includes risk assessment, modus operandi documentation, relapse prevention plans, post-incarceration planning, and community containment. Parole and treatment agencies usually collaborate to track and monitor sex offenders.
Support Group: A therapeutic or educational setting that brings together victims in a group setting for the purpose of learning from each other and growing through the healing process/recovery.
Telemedicine: The delivery of medicine at a distance (e.g., via telephone, video-conferencing equipment).
Toxicologist: A scientifically trained individual who analyzes drugs and alcohol in the system.
Triage and Intake: Triage is the process of sorting people by their level of need for medical care. During triage and intake, health care providers should consider sexual assault victims a priority, provide sensitive and timely medical care before collecting evidence, contact victim advocates, assess victim safety, and assess further medical needs.108
Unrestricted Reporting: The U.S. Department of Defense defines unrestricted reporting as a process through which a sexual assault victim's disclosure is reported to law enforcement to initiate an official investigation.
Victim-Witness Assistant: A government-based advocate who assists victims in the criminal justice process and provides referrals to community-based services.
Victim Compensation: With VOCA funding (administered through OVC), U.S. state agencies and territories have established victim compensation programs to reimburse crime victims. (See State Compensation Web Sites and Resources for International Victims for more information.)
Underserved Populations: Individuals who do not receive adequate information, services, education, or support following sexual assault. These individuals may include but are not limited to populations underserved because of geographic location, racial and ethnic background, or individuals with specific needs (e.g., language barriers, disabilities, immigration status, age).
Uniform Code of Military Justice: The foundation of military law in the United States.
Organizations and Programs
ADA Technical Assistance Program
Provides free information and technical assistance directly to businesses, nonprofit service providers, state and local governments, people with disabilities, and the public.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Works to prevent and control disease, injury, and disability. Its Web site provides an index for information on various health issues, including information and resources on disabilities. Also offers a free e-mail subscription service.
Minnesota Center Against Violence and Abuse
Supports research, education, and access to information related to violence. Its Web site provides a comprehensive selection of sexual violence publications and training resources.
National Center for the Prosecution of Violence Against Women
Provides expert training on the prosecution of domestic violence, sexual assault, and stalking. Its Web site links to a prosecution toolkit, state statutes, an overview of national reporting requirements, newsletters and publications, and a subscription service.
National Center for Victims of Crime
Advocates for passage of laws and public policies that create resources and secure rights and protections for crime victims, delivers training and technical assistance to victim service providers, and provides resource centers on stalking, resilience, teen violence, and dating violence.
National Conference of State Legislators
Conducts research and provides technical assistance to policymakers.
National Institute of Justice (NIJ): Forensic DNA
Describes forensic DNA, the Combined DNA Index System, processing backlogs, using DNA to solve crimes, and other related information and includes tools for forensic scientists and laboratories.
National Sexual Violence Resource Center
Serves as the Nation's principle information and resource center regarding all aspects of sexual violence. The center provides national leadership, consultation, and technical assistance by generating and facilitating the development and flow of information on sexual violence intervention and prevention strategies. Its Web site links to events, publications, and special projects and operates the National SART Listserv.
Office for Victims of Crime
Enhances the Nation's capacity to assist crime victims and provides leadership in changing attitudes, policies, and practices to promote justice and healing for all victims. Its Web site links to publications, grants and funding, Web forums, training and technical assistance information, research and statistics, and information for international victims.
Security on Campus, Inc.
Works to prevent crime on campus. Its Web site provides a forum for sharing information about college and university campus crime safety and security issues.
Sexual Assault Forensic Examiner (SAFE) Technical Assistance
Provides technical assistance related to sexual assault medical forensic examinations.
Victim Rights Law Center
Advocates for sexual assault victims' legal rights within the civil, academic, and criminal justice systems. Free legal services are available to help victims with physical safety, housing, education, immigration, financial compensation, and victims' rights.
Assists victims of crime and their families and friends and provides training and information to service providers, Its Web site provides information on survivor resources, advocacy, justice systems, accessing experts, and resources for service providers. Witness Justice also hosts a National Service Provider Listserv.
Advocating for Women in the Criminal Justice System in Cases of Rape, Domestic Violence and Child Abuse
Provides information for advocates working on behalf of female victims of rape, domestic violence, and child abuse as they navigate through the criminal justice system.
Evidence Collection and Care of the Sexual Assault Survivor: The SANE-SART Response
Reviews sexual assault nurse examiner/sexual assault forensic examiner programs and their collaboration within SARTs.
Handbook on Justice for Victims
Outlines the basic steps in developing comprehensive assistance services for victims of crime.
National Victim Assistance Academy Textbook, Chapter 10: Sexual Assault
Defines sexual assault and describes key characteristics of sexual assault cases, the mental and physical health consequences of sexual violence and how these consequences affect the need for reporting, roles and responsibilities of criminal or juvenile justice system professionals, management of sex offenders in the community, and promising practices that address victims' needs.
Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner (SANE) Programs: Improving the Community Response to Sexual Assault Victims
Reviews the need for and impact of SANE programs.
Elder Abuse Listserve
Provides a free forum for raising questions, discussing issues, and sharing information and best practices.
HELP for Victim Service Providers
Enables victim service providers and allied professionals to share ideas, suggestions, and recommendations concerning promising practices, best practices, and victim issues.
National Online Resource Center on Violence Against Women
Provides an easily accessible and comprehensive collection of full-text, searchable electronic resources on domestic violence, sexual violence, and related issues.
OVC Directory of Crime Victim Services
Helps service providers and individuals locate non-emergency crime victim services in the United States and abroad. Providers can search by location, type of victimization, service needed, or agency type.
Serves as an online discussion group where local, state, national, and tribal agencies and organizations discuss how to develop, implement, and evaluate effective violence against women prevention initiatives.
The Sexual Assault Program Coordinators Listserv
Serves as a listserv for university/college staff or faculty who are primarily responsible for handling issues of sexual assault and domestic violence.
Sexual Violence Legal News Online
Alerts service providers to the latest changes in relevant law because of court decisions.
Law students involved in this project summarize new cases; the summaries are then sent to subscribers throughout the country as e-mail alerts and are kept online in a searchable database.
Sexual Violence Research Initiative Listserv
Announces sexual violence related research and resources.
Provides searchable databases for victims' rights laws nationally. Searches are available by topic, citation, and keyword terms. The Web site also provides an overview of victims' rights, a legal glossary, and an overview of the justice system.
VINELink (Victim Information and Notification Everyday)
Allows victims of crime to search for information regarding their attackers' custody status and to register to receive telephone and e-mail notification when custody status changes.
Weekly Accessions List, National Criminal Justice Reference Service
Lets service providers know about new materials added to the NCJRS Abstracts Database.