Develop a SART
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Collect Data

Without consistent information about the number of victims affected by sexual violence, your ability to respond is limited in several ways:

  • You can't gauge the magnitude of sexual violence.
  • You can't identify individuals at highest risk who might benefit from focused intervention or increased services.
  • You can't monitor changes in the incidence and prevalence of sexual violence over time.

Gathering data can help you identify gaps in services. Baseline statistics can underscore the need for a SART, assist you with setting goals and objectives, aid future funding requests, and inform researchers and policymakers of trends that need to be addressed. The data collection process can also be a catalyst for developing and building partnerships with key responders. Just as important, data collection is the foundation for evaluation—a process for assessing effectiveness even while your SART is taking form.

Consider the following steps before collecting data:

  • Determine what information is needed. (How will SART goals be measured?)
  • Assess from whom, how frequently, and in what form the data will be collected.
  • Decide who should have access to the data for other analyses that might serve each agency differently and how that access will work.
  • Verify the reliability of data entries (clear definitions, procedures, and training).
  • Adopt a flexible data system that can accommodate evolving responses to sexual violence.
  • Create a system that is user friendly.
  • Determine how the data will be used to evaluate the interagency response.
National Database

The Sexual Assault Resource Service collects national victim data to identify SANE programs' strengths and weaknesses, improve their evidence collection, and enhance prosecution rates in future cases. If you participate in the SANE program national database, the Sexual Assault Resource Service will—

  • Provide data collection software.
  • Provide analysis of your data free of charge.
  • Provide national aggregate data for comparison purposes.
  • Assist you with developing a system to collect followup data on your clients (e.g., rape kit evidence results, legal case outcomes).

Data Collection in Cuyahoga County

To organize its data collection, Cuyahoga County Coordinated Community Response created a discipline-specific subcommittee with a contact person from each core discipline in the jurisdiction. Over time, as the contributing agencies learned how valuable the data were to them, the list of data elements grew and became increasingly more useful.

Source: William Sabol, Leadership and the Implementation of the Coordinated Community Response Initiative in Cuyahoga County, Cleveland Rape Crisis Center, 2001.

Start by collecting basic data—those data elements that are most easily accessible. Once your SART is well established, consider expanding the types of data collected. (To help you map minimum and expanded data elements, see Sexual Violence Surveillance: Uniform Definitions and Recommended Data Elements.) To ensure the reliability of data, avoid complex forms with easily misunderstood phrases, including forms designed to collect information that will never be used. Also, ensure that individuals entering the data have sufficient time and training to complete the entries accurately and fully.

This section reviews how to—