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SART History

These histories were gathered from individual Sexual Assault Response Teams around the country. To add your SART's story to this page, please contact us.

Fairbanks, Alaska

Alaska has one of the highest rates for domestic violence and sexual assault[1]. The SART system helps to ensure supportive infrastructures are in place to promote victim safety and healing. SANEs travel anywhere in the state and provide relief coverage[2].

  • 1997: Fairbanks Memorial Hospital
    • The only hospital, with the exception of a military hospital, in Alaska’s interior.
    • Fairbanks serves an area the size of Texas and the majority of patients are Alaska Natives.
    • Created community-wide SART guidelines with local law enforcement, state troopers, advocacy center, District Attorney's office, and hospital administration.
    • Advocates are called out on every case.
    • Team interviews with nurse examiners and law enforcement are conducted together, when possible[3].
    • The hospital contracted with local military bases to provide forensic exams for military personnel.

[1] Angie Ellis, December 2005, Forensic Nurses Association of Alaska, Fairbanks Memorial Hospital, Fairbanks, Alaska.

[2] There are some rural programs that only have one or two nurses that cover 24/7.

[3] There are always special circumstances when a team interview may not be appropriate.

San Luis Obispo, California

  • 1980: San Luis Obispo County General Hospital – Dr. Laura Slaughter, working in partnership with nurses at the hospital, started a team response consisting of law enforcement, advocacy, and on-call physicians. Joint interviews were provided to streamline the response to victims.

Santa Cruz, California

  • 1985: Santa Cruz County District Attorney Arthur Danner consulted with the local rape crisis center and formed a task force based on San Luis Hospital’s model and a Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner Program in Houston, Texas. The models were combined to form the first SART in California.
  • 1987: Cabrillo College’s SART Institute – The creation of a training institute at Cabrillo College was a catalyst to memorialize SARTs and helped to replicate the SART model nationally.

Fort Collins, Colorado [4]

  • 1974: Colorado State University (CSU) created the Office of Women’s Programs, which addressed sexual assault victims needs through the development of advocate teams composed of trained students, faculty, and staff.
  • CSU advocates assisted students with their physical, emotional, and legal choices in the aftermath of sexual assault, providing referrals to appropriate resources.
  • SART Peers brought sexual assault and harassment education into high schools throughout Northern Colorado.

[4] Chris Linder, Director, Women's Programs and Studies, Colorado State University.

Pueblo, Colorado

  • 1994: The Pueblo Rape Crisis Center SANE/SART Program - While responding to the emergency rooms to provide support, victim advocates began to notice that because most sexual assault victims have very minimal or no physical trauma, they were usually given a rather low priority level by medical standards
  • Victims often waited 6-8 hours for their exams.
  • January 1998: The Rape Crisis Program started the SART Program. The goal of the team is to provide a more comfortable, less traumatic environment for forensic evidence collection and law enforcement investigation.
  • The SART is a three-member team comprised of a Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner (SANE), a rape crisis advocate, and a law enforcement officer. The team has 24-hour accessibility through an answering service and a 30-minute response time to the SANE site. Law enforcement interviews victims at the time of the exam.

Honolulu, Hawaii

  • 1974: Kapi’olani Hospital in Honolulu Hawaii created an ad hoc committee to study the feasibility of establishing a hospital-based program for the sexually abused[5].
  • 1974: Kapi’olani Hospital in Honolulu Hawaii was opened to provide around-the-clock services to victims, and a Memorandum of Agreements between Kapi’olani Hospital and Honolulu Police Depart was signed, along with verbal agreements with Prosecuting Attorney’s Office.
  • Partnerships then were developed with the YWCA, the Salvation Army, Alternatives for Women, and the Family Stress Center[6]

[5] Paula Chun, 1978, “The Development of the Sex Abuse Treatment Center, Kapiolani-Children’s Medical Center,” paper presented at the Annual Conference of the Western Branch of the American Public Health Association, Honolulu, Hawaii.

[6] Pat Hunter, October 10, 1976, “New Help for Victims of Rape," Sunday Advertiser, Honolulu, Hawaii.

Augusta, Maine [7]

  • 1998-2000: Maine Coalition Against Sexual Assault hired a statewide SANE coordinator.
  • An advisory board that included representatives from all SART disciplines was established.
  • One of the reasons for creating a board was to ensure that efforts to create SARTs statewide were in line with the work being done with SANE.
  • The board advised service providers on matters such as researching and developing SANE guidelines, criteria for the training program, and generally how to put the program in place.
  • The SANE coordinator did outreach to hospitals, recruited nurses, organized the SANE training programs, and set up the first files on SANEs.

[7] Doreen Fournier Merrill, MSW, Public Policy and Member Services Coordinator, Maine Coalition Against Sexual Assault.

Kansas City, Missouri

  • 1973: Kansas City, Missouri Police Department
    • Long-range planning committee initiated a study of forcible rapes reported to their department.
    • Following a rape workshop in November 1973, the Metropolitan Coordinating Committee for Rape Treatment and Prevention was formed on a multi-county, bi-state scope.
    • The Jackson County, Missouri Prosecutor’s Office collaborated to establish a liaison to the Kansas City, Missouri Police Department[8].
  • April 1974: St. Luke’s Hospital’s Board of Directors
    • Formally agreed to establish a rape treatment center at the hospital.
    • This became the first private hospital in the entire country to start a Sexual Assault Treatment Center for the immediate care of sexual assault victims.
    • The center offered victims anonymity and did not require victims to go through the criminal justice process.
    • When the program began, 139 victims were treated; by the following year, that figure almost tripled[9].

[8]Joseph McNamara, July 30, 1974, Police Chief Departmental memorandum.

[9] Jean Morgan, August 3, 1074, "Rape Treatment Center Opens at St. Luke's," The Johnson County Sun.

Tulsa, Oklahoma [10]

  • Tulsa’s SANE program includes victim advocates, forensic examiners, and law enforcement responding together after sexual assaults are reported. The program received a Ford Foundation Innovations in State and Local Government Award in 1992 that recognized Tulsa SANE as an exemplary program.
    • Following the award, training and replication efforts catapulted multidisciplinary forensic exam response in 22 states.
    • The national media coverage following the Ford Foundation Award brought the multidisciplinary response to the forefront of many communities that were unaware or vaguely aware of specialized first responses for sexual assault.
    • There were approximately 20 programs in existence when the Tulsa SANE program began in 1991. In 1996, there were approximately 86 SANE programs, and estimates are now well over 500.

[10] Kathy Bell, RN, Director of Tulsa SANE Program, January 22, 2006.

Memphis, Tennessee [11]

  • 1974: Memphis Sexual Assault Resource Center
    • Committee established by a group of concerned individuals in law enforcement, city government, the National Organization of Women, and local medical professionals to solve the problems encountered by rape victims in Memphis and Shelby County.
  • 1975: Rape Crisis Comprehensive Program (RCCP)
    • Established within the Police Services Division with a grant from the US Department of Health Education and Welfare.
    • The center provides for the evaluation of the victims of sexual assault with evidence collection by registered nurses, the provision of crisis counseling and advocacy by therapists, and the analysis of evidence by serologists.
    • Adult and child victims no longer go to a busy emergency room or to the morgue area of the city hospital for evidence collection following their sexual assault. This agency was the original prototype for “community-based integrated programs” and “one-stop shopping” used by so many service agencies today.
    • The Rape Crisis Center in Memphis, TN (Memphis Tennessee Police Department project) spearheaded a coordinated response among advocates, forensic examiners, and a lab technician to establish a Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner Program through federal funds.
      • Included coordination between victim advocacy, city police, county sheriff’s department, and the SANE Team.
      • Victims were not required to report to law enforcement before receiving exams.
  • 1986: National Institutes of Mental Health cited RCCP as a “model program.”
  • 1987: The Rape Crisis Center establishes child advocacy separate from the counseling program.
  • 1988: Coordinator of Nursing Services hired at the RCCP and establishes a collaborative agreement with local hospitals. This agreement mandates that when victims of sexual assault appear at an emergency department and do not need medical intervention, they will be immediately transported to The Rape Crisis Center and met by the Sexual Assault Forensic Nurse Examiner, reducing their waiting time to less than one hour and providing care in a private, compassionate, and comfortable location.
  • 1988: Curriculum for Nurses and Physicians - The Memphis RCC and the University of TN (Memphis) collaborate to integrate educational material related to the forensic medico-legal evaluation of victims of interpersonal violence into the curriculum for physicians and nurses. This collaborative effort continues today, and the effect is that hundreds of registered nurses and physicians nationwide have been educated about the effects of and treatment of the patient who is a victim of interpersonal violence.
  • 1988: Director of the Memphis Child Advocacy Center staffed at The Rape Crisis Center. The director spends two years housed with The Rape Crisis Center learning how to operate a multi-disciplinary team approach to the investigation and treatment of sexual assault victims.
  • 1989: Coordinator of rape crisis services hired at The Rape Crisis Center. This establishes formal legal child advocacy and community outreach.
  • 1989: The Rape Crisis Center changes its name to Memphis Sexual Assault Resource Center (MSARC) as the scope of services in the community increases to serve local professional schools of nursing, medicine, social services, and criminal justice and to best identify the variety of services available to victims.
  • 1990: MSARC is electronically linked to the Shelby County Criminal Court system, enabling advocates to provide up to the minute court information to victims; MSARC begins production with HBO to document the experiences of victims immediately following a rape. The Undercover America documentary, Rape: Cries from the Heartland, won several awards including the coveted Golden Eagle Cine Award for cable documentaries.
  • 1992: MSARC Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner Standards of Practice presented to the International Association of Forensic Nurses (IAFN) at their founding meeting. These standards were generalized for the international body and published by the IAFN (1996).
  • 1992: Forensic nurses at MSARC begin to collect evidentiary kits from rape suspects.
  • 1994: Two MSARC victim advocates begin working directly out of the Memphis Police Department’s Sex Crimes Squad.
  • 1995: A comprehensive, multidisciplinary weekly case review is implemented and highlighted by NBC Nightly News Focus (January 1997).
  • 1995: The Memphis Sexual Assault Resource Center celebrates its 20th anniversary.
  • 1995: The MSARC becomes electronically connected to two local law enforcement agencies.
  • 1996: The Memphis Police Department adds a full-time Police Liaison to the MSARC staff to assist with maintaining the chain of custody of the more than 3,000 items collected annually.
  • 1997: The MSARC and the Memphis Police Department further their crime scene capabilities by adding a Criminalist to the MSARC staff to maintain on-site laboratory analysis of evidence collected.
  • 1997: The MSARC moves to a single-use facility, expanding usable space and increasing the privacy and comfort to victims.
  • 1998: The MSARC adds a therapeutic playground to the grounds of the MSARC.
  • 1998: The MSARC adds a Coordinator of Outreach Education to the staff.
  • 1999: The counseling component begins to provide services to sexual assault victims at the Mark Luttrell Reception Center, a correctional facility for women.
  • 1999: The education component begins to organize the resources into a library that will be online to researchers, students, and concerned citizens nationwide.
  • 1999: Sexual assault protocols are established with all federal facilities. All federal facilities accept and implement the existing MSARC forensic protocol for the investigation and treatment of sexual assault victims identified in federal facilities.
  • 1999: Staff of the Memphis Sexual Assault Resource Center write the Tennessee Department of Health Standards for the Investigation and Treatment of Sexual Assault Victims. These standards are voluntary and support the sexual assault response team concept. Specialized response teams consisting of an advocate, a forensic nurse, and law enforcement now respond to all reports of acute rapes.

[11]  Julie E. Coffey, Manager, Memphis Sexual Assault Resource Center.

Logan, Utah [12]

  • 1976: CAPSA (Community Abuse Prevention Services Agency) began as a group of women who met under the sponsorship of Utah State University Women’s Center. Law enforcement worked closely with CAPSA to assist with victim needs, including shelter. This provided a cooperative foundation for broader community partnerships and collaboration with healthcare and other community organizations.
  • 1993: CAPSA organized the first Mobile Crisis Team in Utah to respond to domestic violence/sexual assault calls.

CAPSA’s Rape Crisis Coordinator initiated a SART in Cache Valley with an Emergency Department nurse who found funding for SANE training.

  • The county attorney agreed to accept evidence collected by SANEs and agreed SANEs should testify in court hearings.
  • SART response moved from the Emergency Department to an OB/GYN physician’s office that had shower facilities.
  • Law enforcement agencies provided letters stating that their officers would provide security at the doctor’s office during exams.
  • Community awareness activities and brochures highlighted the newly developed, victim-centered approach

[12] Kathryn Monson, January 2006, Cache Valley Sexual Assault Response Team.

Safety for Indian Women from Sexual Assault Offenders Demonstration Initiative

  • 2005: Safety for Indian Women from Sexual Assault Offenders Demonstration Initiative. This initiative, by the Office on Violence Against Women, was created to enhance the response of tribal and federal agencies to the high rates of sexual assault against Indian women.
    • A federal tribal working group was initiated, comprised of representatives from the Attorney General’s Native American Issues Subcommittee, several U.S. Attorney’s Offices, FBI, the Bureau of Indian Affairs, Indian Health Service, and tribal representatives assisted the Office in developing the initiative.
    • The sites selected include: Hannahville Indian Community (Wilson, MI), Navajo Nation (Window Rock, AZ), Red Lake Band of Chippewa Indians (Red Lake, MN), and Rosebud Sioux Tribe (Rosebud, SD).
      • The four demonstration sites will build upon an existing coordinated community response to sexual assault of Indian women by strengthening the capacity of tribal justice systems to immediately respond to sexual assault of Indian women, increasing advocacy and services to sexual assault victims, and strengthening coordination between tribal and federal agencies responding to sexual assault of Indian women.
      • The Tribal Law and Policy Institute will provide technical assistance to the four sites, including the training of personnel handling sexual assault crimes and the development of policies and educational materials specific to each tribe’s language, values, customs, and traditions.