Hello my name is Shelly Martinez and I am the Sexual Assault Response Team Coordinator for the San Luis Valley and Tu Casa, Inc. Tu Casa’s mission is to support healthy, violence-free lives and relationships for all children and adults in the San Luis Valley. I have been in this role since March 2013. When I began working for Tu Casa, there was only one active SART team in the San Luis Valley. There are six counties in the San Luis Valley and all of them now have SART’s. Each SART has its own challenges and successes. Each team has a prescribed set of guidelines that are used to set annual goals through a strategic planning process.
Alamosa County SART is the most established team. The team has been active for four years. I have been the Coordinator of this team for two years. The challenges this team has faced are consistency of members, understanding a victim centered approach, and recognizing the indicators of trauma. The successes this team shares are collaboration and understanding the rolls of individual agencies on the team and in the community.
Rio Grande County & Mineral County SART is a team that combines agencies from two counties. Combining the two counties under one SART has many challenges. The most obvious of those challenges is that there are 40 miles separating the counties. Having representation from each of those counties at the same meeting has never occurred. This is a fairly new team and one of the challenges they face is that they do not fully understand one another’s roles on the team or in their communities. The annual goal for this team was designed to meet this challenge. The success of this team occurs at case review as we have had successful prosecution due to the collaboration taking place during a case review.
Conejos County SART is a team that is growing and with that growth come challenges. The most recent challenge were changes in the three law enforcement agencies within the county. A new sheriff was voted in to office this year and his understanding and buy-in to the team has been limited. Even with this challenge, we have had two successful sexual assault prosecutions which of course require collaboration.
Costilla County SART and Saguache County SART are the newest individual county teams located on opposite sides of the San Luis Valley. Both counties are excited and anxious to build effective teams. Both counties currently have sexual assault cases pending prosecution and the team members report gratitude for continued collaboration and support during case review.
My position as the SART Coordinator for the San Luis Valley provides me the opportunity to observe how each individual team works to accomplish their annual goals. I am able to share best practices and opportunities for professional development. It is my hope that teams continue to build on the relationships that have been established in order to reach the most desirable outcomes of cases.
Shelly has a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Sociology with Social Welfare emphasis. Shelly worked as a Child Protection Caseworker for eight years before being hired by Tu Casa as the Sexual Assault Response Team Coordinator and Sexual Assault Victim's Advocate. She is originally from Montana but has lived in the San Luis Valley for 20+ years. "I enjoy working with the SLV Community and with the Tu Casa Team."