Develop a SART
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Form a Planning Team

Building a SART requires forming a planning team to bring together agencies and organizations that respond to sexual violence and have culturally specific expertise and/or power to change systems. One person or several agencies must be willing to commit the time and effort required to form a team and to lead interagency sexual assault responders through the planning process. The team must be built on a foundation of respect, understanding, and trust, which can be cultivated into a long-term sense of ownership for the SART's plans and purposes.

Remember the Victim

Including victims' voices in meaningful ways during the early planning stages will help ensure that your SART's design is culturally responsive, practical, and relevant to a host of victims' needs and criminal justice objectives.

Many different individuals can be instrumental in cultivating a SART. For example, the team concept could start when—

  • A survivor writes a letter to the editor of a local newspaper appealing to community leaders to provide a better response to sexual violence.
  • A director of a rape crisis/recovery center forms a planning group to determine ways to provide more comprehensive responses to victims, whether or not they report their crimes.
  • A decisionmaker from law enforcement, wanting to improve criminal investigations, contacts a rape recovery center to coordinate immediate advocacy support following a report.
  • A hospital administrator decides to form a multidisciplinary ad hoc committee to study the feasibility of establishing a hospital-based program for sexual assault patients.
  • A health care professional, recently trained and certified as a sexual assault forensic examiner, contacts core responders to establish a coordinated multidisciplinary response.
  • A military sexual assault response coordinator contacts hospital administrators within a certain radius of a military installation to develop a collaborative plan to ensure that active duty personnel who appear at civilian hospitals maintain their restrictive reporting options.
  • A campus health service official contacts several community-based organizations to develop a coordinated response, regardless of where students first seek assistance.
  • A domestic violence shelter director contacts a rape crisis agency about sharing administrative office space and developing a single site for the forensic medical response to domestic and sexual violence.
  • A tribal coalition leader contacts a rape crisis/recovery center to coordinate services for American Indian victims, regardless of where they first seek services.

Or, SARTs could be organized on a broader level. For example—

  • Officials from a district attorney's office or attorney general's office decide to form a statewide task force or coordinating committee to enhance service delivery and public safety. In 1987, for example, a task force formed in North Dakota to develop multidisciplinary materials that would provide uniform procedures to enhance the quality and quantity of evidence collection and reduce victim trauma.1
  • A sexual assault coalition opts to offer statewide or territory-wide training and technical assistance to communities needing leadership in coordinating interagency responses to sexual assault (see Coalition-Driven SART Developmentā€“FL in this toolkit).
  • Several organizations and agencies become aware of a neighboring SART and jointly decide to share resources, make referrals, and coordinate activities in their own jurisdictions. For example, the Memphis Sexual Assault Resource Center serves victims in a tri-state area that includes eastern Arkansas, northern Mississippi, and western Tennessee. Because the center had a highly respected and well-recognized sexual assault medical forensic program, law enforcement agencies in both Mississippi and Arkansas spontaneously began to transport victims to Tennessee for victim advocacy and medical forensic exams.2

Although your plans for creating a SART may start with inspiration from an individual, agency, or small group, the development of a team is ideally a collaborative process with core agencies (e.g., advocacy programs, law enforcement agencies, sexual assault forensic medical examiner programs, crime labs, prosecution) serving as equal planning partners.