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Successes and Failures: Why the SART Institute is Important

By Chip Meneley, RTAP Specialist & CCASA Guest Blogger

I recently worked with a survivor of an alcohol facilitated sexual assault. She expressed her anger and frustration that our Crime Victim’s Compensation (CVC) panel only meets once a month and it appeared that they had deferred a decision on whether to award her funds to replace the income she lost due to her inability to work immediately after the rape. “I didn’t ask for this to happen to me! I have to spend hours dealing with shit! I have to deal with this every day and they only have to deal with it once a month!”

A text book example of the system inadvertently re-traumatizing the victim. As a SART Coordinator of a well-established team made up of committed and experienced professionals and with a strong protocol, this survivor’s experience reinforced my belief that we can never stop analyzing and improving our services for sexual assault survivors.

This is why the SART Institute is so important. It is vital as professionals that we come together to learn, be challenged, and benefit from each other’s successes and failures. Despite our best efforts and years of hard work, gaps in services still exist. Gaps that have a direct impact on survivors and offenders. It is vital that we avoid being isolated or “siloed” in our efforts to effect change in the systems that serve sexual assault victims and lean into each other’s expertise.

This year’s SART Institute includes a presentation about the “You Have Options” program. This is an evidenced-based program that focuses on changing two fundamental elements in the law enforcement response to sexual violence: Increasing the number of victims who report to law enforcement, and thoroughly investigating identified offenders for serial perpetration. I believe that the “You Have Options” program is a game changer and the SART Institute is going to be our first step in implementing this program in our district and taking our commitment to victim centered services to the next level.

Through the hard work and determination of our CVC Coordinator and the flexibility of the CVC Board the survivor was able to quickly get reimbursed for her lost wages without having to wait a month. This relieved substantial financial pressure and significantly lower her stress level allowing her to focus on her recovery. But her words hit home: If she has to deal with the aftermath of the assault every day, shouldn’t we?

Blogger Bio: Chip Meneley is the SART and CCR coordinator for Delta, Montrose and Ouray counties located in rural western Colorado. Chip was hired in 2010 as an advocate for Hilltop’s Tri-County Resources, a community based, dual domestic violence and sexual assault program providing shelter and outreach services for the previously mentioned 3 counties. Chip was promoted to Program Supervisor in 2011. He currently oversees the day-to-day operations of an emergency crisis shelter in Delta, CO, is responsible for support and supervision of staff advocates and gives numerous sexual assault and domestic violence awareness presentations and trainings.

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