If you are a survivor of sexual assault, you may have heard the term SART while searching for support resources near you. SART stands for Sexual Assault Response Team, and this term often also accompanies SANE, which stands for Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner. These professionals help provide care to sexual assault survivors after the assault occurred.
What Do SARTs Do?
The aftermath of sexual assault can be overwhelming, and knowing where to begin in terms of seeking help can seem impossible after a traumatic event. SARTs help survivors navigate the resources available to them, helping individuals find and obtain the support they need.
Typically, a series of professionals from different areas of the community comprise a SART. SARTs may include SANEs and other hospital personnel, law enforcement officers, prosecutors working in sexual violence, victim advocates, judges, and others who dedicate their time to helping survivors of sexual assault.
SARTs and Coordinated ResponseWhen you try to seek help after experiencing sexual assault, it can feel like there’s a never-ending maze of governmental and community resources to wade through before you can make progress with your case. SARTs attempt to coordinate these resources to make the process more seamless, respectful, and informed.
SANEs in particular are integral to SARTs. These Registered Nurses have specialized training in sexual assault response, allowing them to provide comprehensive and informed care to survivors when they come to a hospital. SANEs conduct forensic sexual assault medical exams and may be able to provide testimony in a criminal case.
In addition, other individuals involved in SARTs receive the following types of training.
- Victim advocates receive training on how to support and communicate with survivors, allowing them to provide the most respectful and sensitive support possible.
- Law enforcement officers receive training on the local ordinances that sexual assault cases are subject to and different justice issues involved in the investigation, questioning, and arrest of perpetrators.
- Hospital workers, including SANEs, receive training on sexual assault medical treatment, forensic exams, and the procedures necessary to complete an exam in a sensitive, comprehensive manner.
- Prosecutors receive training on how to preserve evidence in sexual assault cases and the legal procedures necessary to prosecute perpetrators.
Prior to the development of SARTs, survivors encountered a great deal of insensitivity and lack of resources when trying to seek help following assault. While many issues still exist in how these systems treat sexual violence cases, SARTs have greatly improved the quality of care that survivors receive.
By deepening the understanding of sexual violence across all sectors involved in assault response, greater empathy and understanding can continue to benefit survivors. In addition, survivors can better understand the resources and pathways available to them.
Legal Action for Sexual Assault Survivors
Experiencing sexual violence can be traumatic and disorienting. To preserve your chances of pursuing a successful criminal case against the perpetrator responsible for your assault, seek medical attention from a SART near you. If you need assistance finding resources, call the National Sexual Violence Hotline at (800) 656-HOPE (4673).
After you seek medical attention, contact a sexual assault attorney as soon as possible. Your assault lawyer will meet with you to discuss your case, what legal options are available to you, and what you can do next.