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Assess the Status Quo: Systems Change for SARTs

The first place to start when working your local Sexual Assault Response Team (SART) is to learn about what is happening in your community. This phases is called Assessing the Status Quo or as I like to call it, “ASQ.” (It should sound like “ask” when you say it!) In this phases your goal is to find out two sets of information. First, what is happening for victims/survivors who experience sexual violence in our community? Second, what is our agency’s response to sexual violence victims/survivors? Based on these questions, your team will choose what would be a meaningful area of impact for your community, because you will have identified strengths, gaps, and barriers that need to be addressed to keep growing your response to sexual violence.

Two questions might sound really simple and many SART members believe they know the answers without talking to anyone else, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. When you are ASQ-ing (see what I did there?!), you must talk to victims/survivors and understand their experiences. This needs to include victims/survivors who reported their assaults, those who went through the criminal justice system, those who had an advocate, those who never reported or sought help, and more. You must work to include all victims/survivors in your community to understand the reality of what was happening for them and what either encouraged or prevented them from moving forward with service providers and seeking healing/justice.

Additionally, you have ASQ about what individual service providers are doing or what their agency policies look like when it comes to responding to sexual violence. Learn about what your colleagues know or don’t know about serving sexual violence victims/survivors.

Then, once you’ve gathered a good picture of what sexual violence and your response to it looks like in your community, you can move to the second phase: Make Change!

There are many ways and strategies you can use to ASQ! If you have questions or need ideas, reach out to us at SVJI. We’re here and happy to help.