WDAY: The News Leader

Published October 20, 2010, 09:38 AM

Response Team to take a victim-centered approach when dealing with sexual assaults

Wahpeton, ND (WDAY TV) - A coordinated effort is underway in the southern valley to better help victims of sexual assault. Agencies in Richland County are putting together a Sexual Assault Response Team. It's made out of local law enforcement, crisis center and health care professionals, and NDSCS campus advocates. They want to take what they call a victim-centered approach.

Kathy Mauch's job is pretty specific: Be the go-to-support for college-aged assault victims.

KATHY: "One in four women are victims of sexual assault during their campus years. So when you're looking at a classroom of 20 students or 200 students, one-fourth of them have already been sexually assaulted."

She, along with others at the Three River Crisis Center in Wahpeton are forging forward with five other agencies to understand each department's protocols in dealing with sexual assaults, to better react to victim's needs and to hold offenders accountable.

BECKY: "And so that we are all on the same page, so that we all understand why one agency is doing what they're doing to provide services for that victim."

A goal of this team is to cut down on the number of times a victim has to tell their story. So they don't have to relive the traumatic experience over and over again.

AARON: "We take you to the hospital, you need to tell the doctor or the nurse and then you have to go talk to an advocate, now that's three times within a short time frame."

KATHY: "With this response team, she wouldn't have to do this, which would save her lots of anguish."

The team will also actively review cases on how to improve its reaction.

AARON: "That's something that they'll live with for the rest of their life and a so hopefully with the Sexual Assault Response Team we can continue to, or provide them assistance that they need."

To turn a victim into a survivor. Group officials have gotten tips from the Sexual Assault Response Team recently formed in Fargo. Officials hope to have the group in place by January.