In 2007, to help combat the problem of sexual abuse and violence, community police officers, victim advocates and medical professionals united to form the Statesboro Regional Sexual Assault Response Team (SR-SART). Nearly every person on the team has experienced first-hand some form of the devastation caused by this particular crime and the offender. They’ve witnessed the physical and emotional trauma of the victim and collected the vital, and sometimes, shocking, evidence. Their knowledge, skills and training provides a more advanced look in to what victims experience, what evidence needs to be sought and how to interview all the parties involved to get the maximum benefit of a solid investigation. SR-SART is a multidisciplinary team concept and is comprised of representatives of law enforcement, advocates and medical professionals. The team provides comprehensive medical-forensic exams, information and referrals, advocacy and criminal justice services to victims of sexual assault.
Begun in 2009, SR-SART has been designated by the Ogeechee Judicial Circuit and law enforcement agencies to serve Bulloch, Jenkins, and Screven Counties in their response to sexual assault cases in their community, to identify resources, translate research findings and analyze policy to assist in the development, enhancement and sustainability of community programs. SR-SART works in collaboration with the Statesboro Regional Sexual Assault Center, Inc.
The first year, SR-SART focused on coordinating services and policies, and the team helped law enforcement clarify the definition of and penalties for sexual assault in the community. SR-SART is a non-profit network created to give voice and face to rape survivors, providing a sense of solidarity to those who have lived through sexual violence. SR-SART oversees awareness, education and prevention programs that empower survivors of sexual violence and enhance the public’s understanding and acceptance of rape victims.
SR-SART also helps each community in our designated coverage area to connect with various experts in the field, to learn from each other, and to receive customized assistance. SR-SART promotes ongoing dialogue and information sharing among community and professional organizations and other various agencies that respond to sexual violence. The SR-SART supports the safety, justice and autonomy of all victims and survivors of sexual violence; works to meet the needs of the community and creates a forum to enhance the response to systems advocacy and sexual violence prevention initiatives in our designated communities. SR-SART is working to help enact laws that protect children from sex abuse; bring perpetrators of child sex abuse to justice; and hold accountable societal structures that hide perpetrators and fail to protect children from further harm.
Everyone is a volunteer at SR-SART. By establishing SR-SART, we are demonstrating our commitment to helping our community populace. When victims see the level of expertise and the multitude of services available to them, they are more likely to report the assault and access services. Combating sexual assaults is a long term battle without a clear end in sight. Across our designated service area efforts are continuing to be made to educate the public about sexual assaults and the importance of holding offenders accountable. This step will go to great lengths in providing a safe and healthy environment for victims. A part of the solution is truly taking care of the victim of sexual assaults by making them aware of the services available to them.
Since 2007 SR-SART to the present has become adept in dealing with sexual assault and violence in Bulloch, Jenkins and Screven County. Why? Because the quick response time and the multifaceted approach allows the victims to tell their story once and allows the process to move at a speed comfortable for them. Many people who are sexually assaulted end up with post traumatic stress disorder and a myriad of health issues. When victims are not able to access services, at no fault of their own, they may turn to coping mechanisms such as alcohol and drugs. While much focuses on the importance of evidence collection and documentation, SR-SART is also about helping a victim through the healing process so a victim can truly be a survivor. If victims are not provided the help and services they need and deserve, they may also experience depression and attempt or commit suicide. The impact of violence on victims can be lessened when they are supported by their family, the community they live in and society in general. The SR-SART concept is designed to support the victims from all angles by providing advocacy along with the medical-legal process.