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SARTs and Confidentiality

A much discussed, misunderstood term in the world of Sexual Assault Response Teams (SARTs): confidentiality. The theme of this month is dedicated to the critical topic of confidentiality in the context of teams. Confidentiality is one of the most important parts of being a direct service provider and member of the SART—moreover, it impacts funding and data sharing capabilities with one another. Love it, hate it, confused by it, no matter what, confidentiality is critical to our teamwork.

In the context of teaming–especially when we are engaging in activities that we believe will promote victim/survivor autonomy and safety–teams can struggle to determine who needs to know what information. For this introductory post, I want to reiterate that most SARTs and SART members do not need to discuss identifying information or victim/survivor information to be able to discuss what the system’s response was to the case. Think about it: I can talk about what I did at work as well as the ways I can improve my practices or agency policies without talking about the specifics of the people with whom I worked on that day. The same logic applies to SARTs! In my time as a SART leader and as a national technical assistant who works on these topics daily, there are very few instances in which a team must discuss case or victim/survivor identifying information in order to effectively evaluate the service provider’s responses and processes. Teams can struggle with this concept, at first, but once they understand it, it’s much smoother sailing for all involved.

We’ll talk more about the specifics of confidentiality in upcoming posts, but in the meantime, drop your thoughts about confidentiality in the comments! But, I should  let you know, this blog won’t be kept confidential.