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SART Can Help


Thank you to Kelsey Brugger for her down-to-earth article “Party Culture and Rape in Isla Vista.” It a good idea to get a SART examination after a sexual assault for two reasons: The first is to begin the healing process by assuring that the survivor receives timely and necessary medical care for injuries and the prevention of sexually transmitted diseases, which include gonorrhea, syphilis, trichomoniasis, bacterial vaginosis, and HIV/AIDS. Treatment for a high-risk HIV exposure must be initiated as soon as possible after the assault and within 72 hours. Survivors often tell our examiners that they feel “relieved” and “much better” after their examination and treatment. Research has shown that survivors who choose to have a SART exam have better emotional outcomes.

The second is to collect “forensic evidence”, including DNA, that can be used to definitely identify the assailant(s). If a survivor is not sure whether she would like to involve police, a “Restricted” exam can be done, which preserves DNA and other evidence and provides prompt treatment. The victim can then defer the decision on whether to involve police. It is not rare for survivors to decide to pursue a legal case once they have considered all the options. Sometimes the thought that they might be able to prevent another assault moves them to report to police. Research has shown that survivors who choose to have a SART exam have better legal outcomes.

The examination and treatment is free and confidential. It is done in a comfortable facility only used for SART examinations. The hospital emergency room is used only if there are significant injuries requiring urgent medical attention. The exams are scheduled and done as soon as possible after the case is reported to police. Rape reports can be made directly to police, Rape Crisis Center (963-6832), UCSB CARES (893-4613), or Victim-Witness Assistance (568-2400), which will also offer support to the survivor during the process. Specially trained nurses who are experienced, compassionate, and efficient perform the exams, which are not painful. The exams take two-four hours because evidence collection must be careful and thorough.

From the County of Santa Barbara website: SART is a countywide program providing care to individuals who have been sexually assaulted or sexually abused. An interagency program, SART coordinates with law enforcement, Rape Crisis Centers, Victim Witness Assistance, Child Welfare Services, Child Abuse Listening and Mediation (CALM), and a medical team of trained professionals, nurses, and physicians. This team approach assures that individuals receive care in the most positive therapeutic environment possible. Services offered through SART include forensic medical exams, forensic interviews, emotional support, advocacy, counseling referrals, prophylaxis for sexually transmitted infections and pregnancy, and other support services for the individual and his / her family.

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