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Break the Silence: Sexual Assault and the SART Solution

NCJ Number
Richard Kykindall
Date Published
June 2013
0 pages
This Web-based video explains the rationale for and functions of sexual assault response teams (SARTs), featuring comments by sexual assault victims and SART personnel, as well as interactions between victims and SART members in the course of casework.
The video opens with sexual assault victims individually expressing feelings about their victimization, including their anxiety about reporting it to the police because of family pressures, concern that they won't be believed, shame, self-blame, and uncertainty about what will happen in the unfamiliar arena of the criminal justice system. In first presenting this background of victims' psychological reactions to their victimization and concerns about reporting it, the rationale for SARTs is made clear. A SART is a multidisciplinary team composed of representatives from the police, the prosecutor's office, victim services, the sexual assault nurse examiner, and forensic investigators. The functions of a SART as outlined in the video are to ensure that victim needs are identified and met, the offender is held accountable based on evidence properly collected, and the victim is protected from further harm. Interactions between SART caseworkers and sexual assault victims portray sensitive responses to victim concerns and practical advice on case processing and the supports available. The video's narrator advises that in jurisdictions with SARTs, the reporting of sexual assaults by victims is greater than in jurisdictions without SARTs, and the percentage of successful prosecutions is greater. Guidance is provided on accessing resources for establishing a SART.