Sexual Assault Response Team operating in Rocky

More help is available for recent victims of sexual assault in the Rocky Mountain House area.

More help is available for recent victims of sexual assault in the Rocky Mountain House area.

After a year of planning, Rocky now has a Sexual Assault Response Team (SART) to provide a co-ordinated and collaborative response to victims seeking support from agencies in the town.

The Association of Alberta Sexual Assault Services worked with government agencies, hospital, police and community-based services in Rocky to develop the team and enhance existing services with current staffing.

Barbara Hagen, collaborative community response co-ordinator with the association, said 60 people attended training in January.

“The commitment in Rocky was huge. They were at the table. They were energized,” said Hagen on Thursday.

She said the community wanted consistency in their approach because sometimes responses worked well in the past and other times it did not.

“Most of us were providing support to victims of sexual assault before. This is way better. This is a collaborative approach and we’re moving forward as a community as a whole and we’re all on the same page,” said Cindy Easton, executive director or Mountain Rose Women’s Shelter.

She said SART includes the ability to do forensic evidence collection which means victims won’t have to travel to Red Deer, especially if they already had to travel a long distance to get to Rocky.

“The one thing you don’t want to do is cause the person more trauma.”

The Rocky team is one of five new teams in the Alberta. Others were developed in Fort McMurray, Medicine Hat, Grande Prairie and Lloydminster.

Sexual Assault Response Teams already operate in Red Deer, Lethbridge, Edmonton and Calgary.

Funding to develop the new teams was provided by Status of Women Canada and the Alberta government.

szielinski@bprda.wpengine.com

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