Develop a SART
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Vision and Mission

Vision statements help define what your SART will be, how it can perform, and what it intends to do. For example, the vision statement of the New Mexico SANE Task Force is to have those affected by sexual violence receive consistent and quality medical treatment and forensic service from providers who meet the fundamental qualifications and training in the State of New Mexico.2 Likewise, each agency or organization within a SART may have its own vision statement. Finding common ground among multidisciplinary vision statements will help you define a new collaborative identity.

Your vision statement should be compelling and should convey your SART's desired future. The statement should be positive, in the present tense, brief enough to be memorable, realistic, credible, uniquely descriptive, easily communicated and understood, specific in purpose, a guide to action, and consistent with SART core values.

Vision statements that work combine four elements:

  • They are grand, they excite and inspire, and they are presented with credible commitment. People want to be inspired and feel good about where they are heading.
  • They are within grasp—doable within a set time—while challenging people to work hard. People rise to challenges when they believe they can succeed.
  • They are backed with funding and other support for the SART. Resources exist (e.g., sufficient money, willpower, and capacity) to fuel the work necessary to succeed.
  • They can be expressed succinctly. People respond to memorable ideas.

Mission statements are similar to vision statements, but they're more concrete and action oriented. For example, here is the mission statement of the DC Rape Crisis Center:

The DC Rape Crisis Center is dedicated to creating a world free of sexual violence. The Center works for social change through community outreach, education, and legal and public policy initiatives. It helps survivors and their families heal from the aftermath of sexual violence through crisis intervention, counseling and advocacy.

Committed to the belief that all forms of oppression are linked, the Center values accessibility, cultural diversity and the empowerment of women and children.

Understanding that there are unpredictable circumstances that can affect progress, you can make your mission statement a roadmap and operational standard for your SART's purposes. When creating your mission statement, ask yourself the following: "If the SART were to do one thing that would have the most positive impact, what would that thing be?" Other considerations include—

  • Does the mission statement clearly state how, why, what, and to whom the SART will respond?
  • Does it state why the SART is important?
  • Is the mission broad enough that all agencies on the team can see how they can contribute?
  • Is the mission something that would rarely change?
  • Will the mission make sense to the community?

For example, Cuyahoga County's SART developed guiding principles for pursuing its mission and vision:3

The Right Tool

In This Toolkit: Sample Mission Statements (Word)

  • Provide equal access to services for all individuals who have been sexually assaulted regardless of race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, income, ability, language, age, religion, or other personal characteristics.
  • Develop and maintain professional relationships through respectful communication and cross-disciplinary education among team members.
  • Educate professionals within the health, social, and justice systems and the community at large to overcome the silence and stigma surrounding sexual assault.
  • Establish and implement countywide standards of practice to ensure consistent responses from providers who will be held accountable to the standards.
  • Inform individuals about their rights and choices with regard to health care, social services, and the justice system.
Defining Core Values

A crucial first step in developing a SART is defining mutually agreeable core values that can act as a filter for team decisions. For example, team values could include the following:1

  • Upholding victims' privacy and confidentiality.
  • Honoring cultural, physical, mental, emotional, and language needs of victims.
  • Committing to sexual assault prevention education.
  • Valuing victims' voices within the criminal justice system.
  • Remaining professional and innovative.
  • Working openly and collaboratively.
  • Treating everyone with respect.
  • Working to improve the response to sexual violence at the individual and systemic levels.

When developing your vision and mission statements, consider defining your team's core values as well.

1 Sexual and Wife Assault Project, 2002, Halton Community Response Protocols for Sexual Assault and Domestic Violence.