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J Interpers Violence. 2015 Sep;30(14):2470-87. doi: 10.1177/0886260514553119. Epub 2014 Oct 13.

Coordinated Community Efforts to Respond to Sexual Assault: A National Study of Sexual Assault Response Team Implementation.

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DePaul University, Chicago, IL, USA
Michigan State University, East Lansing, MI, USA.


Sexual Assault Response Teams (SARTs) bring together sexual assault responders (e.g., police, prosecutors, medical/forensic examiners, rape victim advocates) to coordinate and improve the response to sexual assault. Ultimately, SARTs seek to improve sexual assault victims' experiences of seeking help and sexual assault case outcomes in the criminal justice system. To date, there are hundreds of SARTs across the United States and yet, there has been no nationally representative study of how SARTs are implemented. Therefore, the current study used a multistep process to create the first sampling frame of SARTs and then studied how SARTs are structured and function within a random sample of SARTs. Findings reveal commonalities as well as variation across SARTs. Most SARTs rated improving legal outcomes, improving victims' help-seeking experiences, and prevention/education as important goals, yet most prioritized their time and energy toward victims' experiences. SARTs' membership varied, with an average of 12 organizations involved in the SART, and 75% of SARTs having active membership from police, prosecutors, rape victim advocates, and medical/forensic examiners. SARTs were moderately formalized and most SARTs engaged in most collaborative processes (e.g., multidisciplinary cross-training, case review, policy/protocol development, and review) on an as needed basis. Finally, results revealed that some types of cross-system coordination in responding to victims/cases were quite frequent, whereas other types of coordination were quite infrequent. Implications for future research and supporting the development and sustainability of SARTs are discussed.


coordinated community response; coordinating council; rape; sexual assault response team

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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