Sexual Assault Response Team seeks advocates & nurses

sart meeting

Published May 22, 2023

Mary Grace Pewewardy | Multimedia Specialist

The City of Lawton in conjunction with Fort Sill, nonprofits, and tribal leaders,is working on a long-term project to help sexual assault victims.

The Sexual Assault Response Team (SART) aims to create a centralized care center where survivors will be given a safe haven, where they will be examined and taken care of from moments after the assault and beyond to ensure their healing.

A project two years in the making, the Team is currently seeking victim advocates and Sexual Assault Nurse Examiners (SANE).

Advocates are trained volunteers who offer services in domestic violence, sexual assault, and stalking. Advocates are driven by their passion for wanting to support victims / survivors and their dependents.

“The support of an advocate means the survivor not only receives all this support, but they also gain someone who is on their side, someone who is non-judgmental, will listen, and empathize,” said Marie Detty Youth & Family Services Executive Director, Kerrie Mathews.

SANE Nurses are also needed in the program. These volunteers must be a registered nurse and have additional education and training on comprehensive health care of sexual assault survivors.

“Nurses are human too, so they understand how to treat the survivors as humans, especially after such a traumatic event,” said Christina Thomas, Emergency Department Director at Southwestern Medical Center & SANE Program Director. “It is important for the SANEs to be able to comfort the survivor by providing them with a change of clothes, clean shower, and a toiletry bag. It helps the survivors feel human again.”

Fort Sill has also joined the project and lends invaluable experience as its Sexual Harassment/Assault Response Prevention (SHARP) Program is committed to eliminating sexual harassment and sexual assault by creating a climate that respects the dignity of every member of the Army Family.

“While Fort Sill has a SHARP Resource Center that offers centralized care for survivors of sexual assault, we rely on outside sources to conduct forensic exams,” said Leslie Watts, SHARP Program Manager.  “The idea of the Comanche County SART initially came about to improve services to survivors by increasing support to forensic exam capabilities.  Ms. Thomas was the sole volunteer forensic nurse in Lawton and the surrounding areas when the SART was initiated.”

In addition to needing victim advocates and SANE Nurses, SART is also seeking funding for a centralized care center for sexual assault victims.

The location of the shelter will be undisclosed, as patient confidentiality and safety comes first. Survivors will be given the location privately after calling the hotline or contacting the police department.

For more information on how to become a victim advocate, contact Marie Detty Youth & Family Services at (580) 357-6141.

To become a SANE Nurse, contact Christina Thomas at @email.