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Accessing Information from ALL survivors

Now that we have gone through the role of victims/survivors, and how to best support them as they provide valuable feedback and suggestions to your Sexual Assault Response Team (SART), we will go over how to access information from ALL survivors.

It should be no surprise those who are willing and able to participate through advisory committees, focus groups, interviews are typically those who have had a positive experience with support services or a particularly negative experience. But how are we able to gather information from those whom the systems never reached or have acted ways that discouraged future engagement? Here are a couple of suggestions for doing so.

  1. Determine who is being left out: Sexual violence happens everywhere and can happen to anyone. With this in mind here are some things to look out for when the team is working to determine whose voice is not represented.
    1. Check your local area demographics compared to the demographics of who accesses your services. Do the percentages match?
    2. Look at the demographics of those who report, and who goes all the way through the system (race, sex, gender identity, tribal association, sexual orientation, ability, etc.) Do you see any themes that warrant further exploration?
    3. Look at locations where there are little or no reports of sexual assault (reservations, rural communities, specific neighborhoods, college campuses, etc.). Are there opportunities here for future engagement?
  2. Based on what the team has learned, brainstorm ways to improve the relationship with the people who are missing from your team’s work.
    1. Build relationships with local organizations which serve the population
    2. Review any and all documents or communications to see if they are accessible and welcoming to that community
    3. Moving forward, be aware of this blind spot and seek to improve your work on a personal level

It is always difficult to know that our systems are not equally serving everyone. The important thing is to acknowledge the issues and take action to improve. Action shows your willingness and desire to better support those who are underrepresented within our systems. With some time, patience, and intentional action more victims/survivors are going to feel safe and empowered to share their experiences and trust the systems to work better for us all.