Since its inception, the Sexual Violence Task Force has accomplished so many wonderful things. Over the last few years, there has been a 35% increase in participating agencies dedicated to creating a coordinated community response to sexual violence. Take Back the Night transformed from a small gathering inside a Hillsborough County church to a huge community driven event in Tampa in 2015 and in St. Pete in 2016. Additionally, fundraisers and conferences were organized as well as community and media interviews, written statements, and radio broadcasts. The SVTF should be proud of what has been accomplished and recognize the need for continued growth and collaboration. It is for this reason; the Sexual Violence Task Force has been invited to merge with the Hillsborough County Sexual Assault Response Team (S.A.R.T.).
The mission of Hillsborough SART is to provide a coordinated, multidisciplinary victim centered approach to sexual assault investigations and service provision. The goals of the Hillsborough SART are:
- Ensure victims have the best and most comprehensive services available
- Help bring perpetrators to justice
- Provide a forum for discussion and problem solving for service providers, investigators, law enforcement, prosecutors and medical personnel
- Inform partners about changes in laws, updates on forensic science technologies, and legal, medical and clinical trends and issues.
SART meetings are every other month, at the Crisis Center of Tampa Bay and chaired by the Center for Victim Advocacy at USF and SAS Crisis Center of Tampa Bay. There are fifty standing members with an average meeting attendance of 15 to 20.
The Sexual Violence Task Force can elect to send a designee to SART (perhaps the new chair of the SVTF or a delegate) or attend as individual agencies and organizations. If you have an interest, the next meeting is Friday, August 12th, 2016. Membership consists of attending the meeting and taking an active role in SART projects. An option might be that the SVTF remain as a committee of SART, dedicated to a Sexual Assault Awareness Month project that the SART members would support.
Should you have any questions, please contact me. I hope to see you in August.
Director of Sexual Assualt Services
One Crisis Center Plaza
Tampa, Florida 33613