Sexual Assault Response Team helping victims by working together

The Wood County SART has been serving our community since 2016
WTAP News @ 5- SART helping victims by working together
Published: Mar. 17, 2022 at 4:01 PM EDT
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PARKERSBURG, W.Va. (WTAP) - April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month and one local organization is helping victims... by working together.

TERESA SMITH, FAMILY CRISIS INTERVENTION CENTER: “The importance is that – because we all do respond to these sexual assaults – that we don’t further traumatize the victims of sexual assault.”

The Wood County Sexual Assault Response Team is a group of professionals who work together to coordinate an “immediate, quality, multidisciplinary, victim-centered response to sexual assaults” in our community.

And they’ve been doing it since 2016.

CAPT. MATTHEW BOARD, PARKERSBURG POLICE DEPARTMENT: “All area law enforcement is involved in the SART team, me being a representative of Parkersburg. It’s also comprised of the Vienna Police Department, Wood County Sheriff’s Office, Williamstown Police Department...”

Captain Board says the team also has participation from the West Virginia State Police and is led by Wood County Prosecuting Attorney Pat Lefebure.

CAPT. BOARD: “It’s a multi-faceted group comprised of various entities within the community to focus on victims’ rights and victims’ well-being, as well as the criminal prosecution side...”

Smith says one way the group focuses on victims’ well-being is a change in the way victims of sexual assault report their story.

SMITH: “A lot of times the victim has to tell their story about what happened and if we can communicate and collaborate on that, then we can all get together at the same time so they’re not having to repeat that story.”

She and Captain Board say SART also gives victims of sexual assault more places to seek help.

CAPT. BOARD: “Well, that’s kind of the beauty of it is they can go to anywhere. The hospital is involved, so they could go to the hospital and report. They could contact one of the advocates for the SART team or law enforcement, and from that point, since we do have this organization, we’re able to come together as a team, no matther how they want to relay their story or tell their story, and move forward in any capacity.”

Smith says if you or someone you know has experienced a sexual assault and “are unsure what to do, what your options are, or have any questions,” you can call the Family Crisis Intervention Center at 304-428-2333.

She says all of their services are free and confidential.

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