A Sexual Assault Response Team, or SART, helps minimize the retraumatization of a survivor when engaging with the criminal justice system. SARTs initiate a collaborative response to provide support, information, and resources.
This trauma-informed response not only benefits survivors but the agencies survivors engage with as well. For example, SARTs have identified many improvements to victims’ participation in the criminal justice system, including:
• Increasing likelihood of receiving referrals to advocacy services
• Increasing likelihood of receiving referrals to medical services
• Increasing the number of assaults reported to law enforcement
• Increasing clients’ engagement with investigation and court prep
SART models range from informal partnerships to more formal and coordinated responses on local, regional, state, tribal, or territory levels. SARTs typically include law enforcement investigators, advocates from community-based sexual assault organizations, forensic examiners/nurses, and prosecutors.
In general, SARTs are committed to victims’ rights and needs, organize their service delivery to aid evidence collection, and educate the community about services available for intervention and prevention of sexual assault.
Unfortunately, sexual assault happens in all communities and not all communities are equipped with a SART. The earliest SARTs date back to the early 1970s, including one started by sexual assault advocates at Colorado State University in Fort Collins in 1974. Later, the Pueblo Rape Crisis Center initiated a SART to provide a more comfortable, less traumatic environment for forensic evidence collection and law enforcement investigation in 1998.
Our very own SART, serving the entire San Luis Valley, has been persisting through funding hardships for almost a decade. Tu Casa Inc., the organization charged with SART coordination, remains committed to serving survivors of sexual assault, strengthening relationships with other agencies, and encouraging growth in the realm of trauma-informed sexual assault response. Tu Casa Inc.’s new SART coordinator, Amanda McClanahan, has a background in the helping professions and is excited to start working towards increasing the number of agencies participating in SART meetings.
Tu Casa, Inc. is committed to empowering all children and adults to live healthy, violence-free lives. Their services are free, voluntary, and confidential and can be accessed through a 24-hour hotline at 719-589-2465. Throughout April, known as Sexual Assault Awareness and Child Abuse Prevention Month, you can stay updated on events and activities by following our Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/TuCasaInc & Instagram: www.instagram.com/slvtucasa/.