SARTs and Creating Conditions for Disclosure: Knowledgeable and Prepared Service Providers
In this blog, we have previously talked about responding to the full spectrum of victim/survivor needs. The work of the Sexual Assault Response Team (SART) is to help create a community in which victims/survivors feel it is safe and useful to access services. One way to help do that through the SART is by ensuring there are knowledgeable and prepared service providers who will respond to the full spectrum of sexual violence.
This can look like cross-training between agencies to ensure providers know what resources are available. Your team could begin institutionalizing the differences in response procedures for intimate partner sexual violence and all other types of sexual violence victimization. You could write processes for sexual assaults that involve voluntary consumption of alcohol or other substances. Hold “myth busting” sessions to educate providers and the public about sexual violence. Write a short “bill of rights” for victims/survivors that include the available grievance procedures as well as specific actions and assurances of a quality response. There are many options for equipping service providers with the tools necessary for a knowledgeable response to disclosure.
One primary way that responders can improve the conditions for disclosure are to be knowledgeable about the many ways people experience sexual violence. In developing safe and useful conditions for disclosure, it is essential that responders are well-trained in the contexts of sexual violence. Providing services for victims/survivors requires the ability to adapt to the different and sometimes, complex dynamics between a victim/survivor and the person who has perpetrated. When we prepare our service providers, more victims/survivors know that they have a trusted resource and will benefit from having accessed services.
The work of the SART must include creating safe and useful conditions for disclosure in every community, and for every single person in that community. Creating these conditions will mean making systemic changes to how we approach our work. However, the results rewards will include more victims/survivors being able to access the system, more accountability and rehabilitation for those who perpetrate, and ultimately, safer communities. This is the very heart of what SARTs are designed to do. So, let’s do it, together!