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SARTs and Creating Conditions for Disclosure

One topic that frequently comes up when talking about Rural Sexual Assault Response Teams (SARTs) is that there are few or no formal disclosures of sexual violence. This means that victims/survivors do not feel safe coming forward or accessing services or that they simply cannot access services due to other barriers. If your team or team members say that sexual violence is not a problem in your area because there are few or no reports, it is now you and your team’s official duty to help one another understand the rates of violence and why it is not being reported in your community. Above all, the research tells us that sexual violence is happening and is not being reported.

When we say “creating the conditions for disclosure,” we mean systems service providers working to change their practices, policies, and procedures to make it safe and useful for someone to access help after sexual violence. There needs to be both safety and effectiveness—one without the other is not helpful to rural sexual violence victims/survivors. Having both safety and effectiveness will mean that harm is reduced by reporting and that the victim/survivor has meaningful support.

For the rest of this month, the posts will look at a few topics that teams can and should consider as they are working to build up the conditions for disclosure. Let’s start talking and build up communities where it is safe and useful for someone to access our services. Let’s use our team to critically impact the experiences of victims/survivors in our community for the better!