When a person is harmed by a criminal act, the agencies that make up the criminal and juvenile justice systems have a moral and legal obligation to respond. It is their responsibility not only to seek swift justice for victims, but to ease their suffering in a time of great need.1
Sexual assault trauma is a physical and emotional violation that may result in feelings of intense fear, powerlessness, and hopelessness. Such events can be traumatic not because they are rare, but because they overwhelm the internal resources that give individuals a sense of control, connection, and meaning.2
SARTs must recognize the powerful domino effect sexual assault may have on victims' physical, social, emotional, spiritual, and economic lives and must integrate victim-centered approaches in their response. This section reviews emotional and physical responses to sexual assault, coping strategies, and stages of trauma and recovery.