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The Sexual Assault Response Team (SART) is a community-based approach to providing a sensitive, comprehensive, coordinated system of intervention and care for survivors of sexual assault.

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The Sexual Assault Response Team (SART) is a community-based approach to providing a sensitive, comprehensive, coordinated system of intervention and care for survivors of sexual assault. It is designed to support the survivor while reducing post-traumatic stress, improving the collection of forensic evidence, facilitating investigation, and supporting the prosecution of the perpetrator.

As no one agency can handle all of that alone, the following groups work together as a team:

  • Law Enforcement
  • Sexual Assault Nurse Examiners in a specially equipped hospital
  • Crime Laboratories of both the Sheriff and LAPD
  • The District Attorney's Office
  • The Victim Assistance Program
  • Rape Crisis Advocates
  • Social Service and Mental Health Agencies
The team is designed to meet the needs of sexual assault survivors and their significant others by providing:
  • Cultural competency
  • Sensitive and coordinated response
  • Early emotional support and advocacy
  • Accessible, prompt, high quality forensic medical examinations
  • Prophylaxis to protect the survivor against sexually transmitted disease
  • Assessment of pregnancy risk and emergency contraception
  • On-going information about investigative and criminal justice procedures
  • Counseling for sexual assault survivors and their significant others
  • The SART team is most often called into action when a survivor reports the assault to Law Enforcement.
After taking the initial report, the officers will determine if a forensic medical exam is appropriate. The police, who pay for the medical exam, then contact the Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner and the Rape Crisis Advocate who meet the survivor and Law Enforcement at the hospital. The team then begins working together with the survivor.

All of Valley Trauma Centers Rape Crisis Advocates are community-based volunteers. Each has completed a sixty-hour State Certified Sexual Assault Training and also participates in eight sexual assault workshops each year. Advocates are able to answer, or get the answer to many pertinent questions that may come up for the survivor.

It's important to know that the advocate is the only person who isn't involved with investigating the facts or collecting evidence. This means that they are completely able to attend to the needs of the survivor in an unconditional and responsive way.

They do this by:

  • Providing emotional support, listening, and empathizing with the survivor
  • Lessening any sense the survivor may have of going through the process alone
  • Following-up with the survivor after the examination to check-in and assess any new needs or concerns
  • Providing information about support services offered by Valley Trauma Center that the survivor may find helpful, including individual and group  counseling
  • Giving appropriate referrals to other agencies based on the survivor's needs
  • Providing written literature about Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, the Victim Assistance Program, Personal Safety Tips, Significant Other Tips, and HIV Testing. and a booklet titled "Taking Action: What to Do if You Are Raped."

 

Valley Trauma Center's advocacy services are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week to sexual assault survivors of all ages and their significant others, (just contact our hotline at (818) 886-0453 or (661) 253-0258). In addition to meeting survivors at hospitals, advocates will accompany survivors to Law Enforcement agencies, District Attorney's offices, court proceedings, and other social services. In other words, an advocate will provide support throughout the entire process, if that's what the survivor wants.

The survivor's right to have an advocate present from the beginning of the investigation to case closure is a matter of public policy in the State of California and is protected under state law: Penal Code Section 679.04(a) provides that a victim of sexual assault has a right to have a victim advocate and a support person of the victim's choosing present at any interview by Law Enforcement authorities, District Attorneys or defense attorneys, and during any medical or physical examination.

On a healing note, it turns out that the role of the Rape Crisis Advocate is essential in significantly reducing additional stress experienced by sexual assault survivors. Studies have shown a reduction in the severity of post-traumatic stress symptoms when quick and early support is provided to those who have suffered trauma.

If you or a loved one has been sexually assaulted and require assistance or additional information regarding the SART process, please don't hesitate to call our hotline at (818) 886-0453 or (661) 253-0258. We will be there for you.

REASONS TO REPORT THE ASSAULT TO THE POLICE

  • Reporting within 72 hours of the assault will allow for valuable evidence to be collected. Should your case be prosecuted, this increases the chances of apprehending the suspect and successfully prosecuting.
  • By allowing survivors to take action against the perpetrator of this violent crime, reporting gives survivors back some of their personal control.
  • Reporting is empowering; it gives survivors a chance to discuss what has happened.
  • Reporting the crime will ensure that medical expenses, including a forensic medical exam and costs for emergency care, may be paid by public compensation funds.
  • Reporting and prosecuting are essential to sexual assault prevention and the protection of other potential victims by stopping or deterring repeat offenders.
  • Reporting attests to the fact that sexual assault really happens and that this crime will not be suffered in silence.

Remember, you're not alone.

 
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