What is a SART?
A Sexual Assault Response Team (SART) is a multidisciplinary, interagency collaboration that unites the members in a coordinated, victim-centered approach to responding to sexual assaults. It allows those who respond to sexual assaults a way to intervene that addresses each victim’s circumstance and respects the unique roles of the different professionals involved in responding to sexual assault. It is a team approach implementing a comprehensive, sensitive, coordinated system of intervention and care for sexual assault victims, making the victims’ needs a priority, holding offenders accountable, and promoting public safety. The partners in a SART are both public and private agencies that provide direct services to sexual assault victims. SARTs can be part of a coordinated community response (CCR). For example, sexual assault center victim advocates, medical personnel/sexual assault nurse examiners (SANEs), law enforcement officers, and prosecutors may be joined by mental health specialists, counselors, addiction treatment providers, domestic violence victim advocates, parole and probation workers, and campus or community safety personnel. The SART provides a means for collaboration, relationship-building, and education between the various professionals. Its goals are to provide the best victim-centered response to sexual assault victims, to mitigate the effects of sexual assault on individual victims and their loved ones, to increase victim and community safety, and to prevent further victimization.
A SART provides an opportunity to:
- become familiar with the roles and responsibilities of each discipline that responds to sexual assault
- develop and build relationships with the individual responders and their agencies so that the best information and referrals can be provided to the victim and to each other
- identify available, valuable community resources, avoid duplication of services, and collaborate on effective delivery of services to sexual assault victims
- develop/establish protocols to provide a seamless response that ensures that victims and responders are well-informed and that the needs of the victim and the needs of the criminal justice system are considered throughout the legal process
- share information, knowledge, and expertise among the SART members
- establish rapport with the various SART members that provides the opportunity for resolution in the event of a challenge or miscommunication among SART members; and
- educate the partners and the public in order to increase awareness of sexual assault and the scope of the problem, decrease victim blaming, identify solutions, and provide leadership.
The SART model has become the standard for responding to sexual assault victims. Models range from informal, cooperative partnerships to more formalized coordinated, multidisciplinary responses on local, regional, or state levels. SARTs function in various ways depending upon the needs of the community they serve and often provide a wide range of services. Team members are activated together; therefore, the specific roles and responsibilities of the SART agencies are interwoven into team guidelines and protocols that coordinate responsibilities based on expertise.