Put the Focus on Victims
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Task Forces for Inreach to Vulnerable Populations—Louisiana

In 2005, the New Orleans Rape Crisis Network SART recognized the need to involve representatives from populations most vulnerable to sexual violence. The SART identified task force representatives from vulnerable populations that included older individuals, individuals with disabilities, college students, and representatives from the gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender community.

This project espouses the motto of "Nothing about us without us." In other words, the SART includes the individuals it serves in the planning process. The team also recognizes that vulnerable populations may not have access to or knowledge of available services, or that they may choose not to use the services.

Making the Idea a Reality
The SART identified task force "champions" in vulnerable populations and invited them to join the SART with the goals of providing representation on the SART and inreach into their communities.

Benefits to Victims
Underserved populations directly benefit because they are involved in planning services tailored to meet their needs. The task force also works to prevent sexual violence against members of vulnerable communities. For example, representatives on the task force provide prevention education and education about SART services within culturally specific and underserved communities.

Benefits to Victim Service Professionals
The task force helps service professionals learn about and better meet the needs of people from diverse populations.

Evaluation Efforts
Qualitative feedback has been very positive. The SART has planned many successful educational events and has made many connections in various communities. No formal evaluation efforts have been conducted, however.

Lessons Learned
Many lessons have been learned, but the main lesson is that we cannot know everything.

The SAFE Center opened in April 2005. In late August 2005, Hurricane Katrina struck, destroying the city and its infrastructure (medical, law enforcement, communication services, legal services, housing, advocacy, safe havens). In early September, members of the Rape Crisis Network began to rebuild. Having representatives in communities with vulnerable populations has proven invaluable in reconnecting to the community and providing public awareness of the services we provide.

Contact Information
Ecoee Rooney, RN, MSN, SANE–A
SANE Program Medical Center of Louisiana at New Orleans
Rape Crisis Network Chairperson
RN Inservice Instructor, Education/Staff Development
1541 Tulane Avenue, Room 402
New Orleans, LA 70112