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Resource Highlight: I Am Somebody’s Somebody: Minnesota Sexual Assault Response Team Roundtable Report

By Alana Schoenborn

Hello everyone! Welcome to the Rural Realities blog! In this blog, we will be highlighting a new resource developed under the Minnesota Coalition Against Sexual Assault’s Minnesota Sexual Assault Multidisciplinary Action Response Teams (SMART) Program. The new resource, I Am Somebody’s Somebody: the Minnesota Sexual Assault Response Team (SART) Roundtable Report, shares the experiences of sexual violence victims/survivors navigating systems and community responses. While this resource focuses on the experiences of Minnesota victims/survivors, its insights and findings can provide valuable perspectives for SART teams in other states.

The Minnesota SMART Program, a program of the Sexual Violence Justice Institute (SVJI), hosted four virtual roundtables in June 2023 to gain further insights from sexual violence victims/survivors in Minnesota about their experiences with resources in their community. The goal of the roundtables was to better understand victims/survivors’ needs and what it means to have effective and appropriate community resources, increased coordination between agencies, and greater support for victims/survivors in the community. To paraphrase, SVJI wanted to answer the question are SARTs effective from the victim/survivor perspective as there is no current literature from this lens.

The report discusses the methodology & data analysis of the roundtables as well as the themes that emerged and specific recommendations for SARTs. The themes were determined by grouping responses and identifying recurring patterns across all four roundtables. These groupings helped project staff understand the scope and relevance of the themes overall and identify core concerns & obstacles specifically for victims/survivors in Minnesota. Some themes identified are the need for validation, confidentiality, law enforcement response to sexual violence, systems change, the need for available & accessible resources, cultural responsiveness, and communication between responders. For each theme identified, there are recommendations for SARTs. In the recommendations, SARTs are given specific tangible action steps they can utilize to address these potential core issues & barriers. Some of the recommendations identified in the report would be great strategies for SARTs if they are facing challenges and need to rejuvenate the team.

The insights gathered from these roundtables are just beginning to understand victims/survivors’ needs and how agencies can increase coordination and have appropriate, accessible resources. We still have a significant amount of work ahead of us to ensure greater support for victims/ survivors in our communities. The Minnesota SMART Program staff are excited to continue these conversations and collaborate with victims/survivors in Minnesota.

If your team has any questions about the report, please reach out to us at svji@mncasa.org.

This project was supported by Grant No. 15JOVW-22-GK-04024-RURA awarded by the Office on Violence Against Women, U.S. Department of Justice. The opinions, findings, conclusions, and recommendations expressed in this publication/program/exhibition are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Department of Justice, Office on Violence Against Women.