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Madison County SART creates relationships and healing through advocacy

The Sexual Assault Response Trauma (SART) Team in Madison focuses on developing and maintaining a program that offers, and improves, services to adolescent and adult sexual assault survivors, adult survivors of childhood sexual abuse and the secondary survivor. This is done with individual and group counseling, and by providing advocacy to the survivor through medical, emotional, physical and legal assistance. The SART Coordinator provides leadership and coordination of the development and activities of their county-specific SART, achieving this where they serve by working with medical personnel (SANE Nurses), local Law Enforcement Agencies, the state’s Attorney’s Office, Child Protective Investigators, the Guardian Ad Litem Program, the Department of Juvenile Justice, the County School Board and community organizations. Over the past year (2013-14), Madison County’s SART Coordinator, Cherie Rowell, has provided counseling and services to over 100 individuals and their families. All services provided by SART are free and confidential to survivors of sexual assaults, to victims of unwanted sex as a child, now adult survivors of child sexual assault, and to secondary survivors to those that have been exposed to sexual assault through their partner, parent, children or friend. SART offers individual and group counseling as well as professional training and community education, injunction assistance, information and referral and advocacy. SART also has two emergency shelters, located in Taylor and Leon Counties, and a 24-hour crisis hot line. The mission of Refuge House is to provide direct services to battered women, children and men of sexual assault survivors as well as to work to eliminate the conditions in society that allow such violence to continue. SART has been involved with 12 different support groups in Madison County and the number is growing. Activities within these support groups consist of weekly and bi-weekly, monthly or quarterly group meetings. These meetings are serving and bringing resources to those who have experienced unwanted sex throughout their lives, or those who look to volunteer with those who have experienced unwanted sex throughout their lives. SART is open to any group regardless of age, for profit or not for profit. Within these 12 support groups, Madison County SART has brought information and resources to over 300 participants in 2013-14. SART has attended a total of 20 Community Action Meetings: Town Hall Meetings, County Commissions meetings and Shady Grove Council meetings. Madison’s SART was very pleased to have both Town Hall and the Commissioners join other communities, states and countries in recognizing, and to declare, April 2014 as Sexual Assault Awareness Month. For Madison County, the continued support SART has received from Madison County is overwhelming and says Rowell, “More appreciated then words can express.” Awareness/Public Education Events: Madison’s SART has attended over 19 Public Awareness Events and brought awareness to over 1,000 people. Some of these events included: Jefferson County’s Refuge House Domestic Violence Awareness Brunch (John Denham House Bed and Breakfast); The 3rd annual Madison Safety Zone Community Anti Bullying Event; David Dukes, Black History Month Festival and Fun Day; A Self Defense Class at The Madison County Sheriff’s Office held by Capt. Mark Joost; Domestic Violence and Anti Bullying Campaign Refuge House Sponsored - Slogan, Poster and Poem contest; Guest Speaker for: Madison County Woman’s Club, District Garden Club Meeting and Saint Leo University Graduation and entered Madison County’s Down Home Day’s Parade with a float for SART/Refuge House. Community Education: Speaker for Garden Club Red Hat Luncheon on lasting effects of child SV/DV; guest speaker for Boyz to Men Graduation; attended NFCC Allied Health Application Day and spoke with students about Refuge House services; set up a booth at Madison Police Department Downtown Halloween event to hand out candy along with information and displayed entries from the Refuge House Domestic Violence and Anti Bullying Campaign. Professional Presentations: Madison SART had the opportunity of speaking to about 75 individuals that were a part of Madison’s professional groups. The list below is just to name a few that SART has had the opportunity to partner with and present to on a professional basis over the past year: Project Safe Zone, Apalachee Mental Health Center, Madison County Sheriff’s Office, Shady Grove Council-Guest Speaker, Madison County Health Department, Greenville Librarians, United Way Meeting and guest speaker for the Madison County Health Department Healthy Start Program. Outreach Materials: SART is proud to have been able to produce outreach materials to any agency that would like to have them. Refuge House Inc. supplies and delivers these materials at no cost to any individual or agency that requests them. At this time, SART has supplied over 2,500 Outreach Materials in Madison County from 2013-2014 and looks forward to supplying twice as many in 2015. Faith Communities/Congregations: SART has had the honor of participating in nine educational events and would greatly like to see this number grow in the year to come. The subject of sexual assault or domestic violence is a difficult subject to begin with, however as the SART Coordinator for Refuge House Inc., Rowell says she personally opens the door to any church community and will speak with pastors and youth leaders on the subjects that can be discussed in a professional manner and which she feels would not only benefit the “holy community” in a very respectful way, but also bring safety into the subject of sex and personal options surrounding it. Student Outreach: Student Outreach is a very important area that the Madison SART would like to see increase; starting with PreK and continuing through college. Rowell says there is a lot that can be taught to our youth, which can be done in a professional manner that will help kids keep themselves safe from both sexual violence and domestic violence. Rowell’s goal is to reach every student she can in 2015; with the help of parents, teachers and the Madison County School Board. Some of the events SART participated in to reach out to Madison youth this past year have been: North Florida Community College - Positive action, safety planning and knowing the difference between healthy and unhealthy relationships were discussed. Students were able to ask questions and give their input on what services they felt were needed in Madison County by filling out confidential surveys. Madison County High School – Brochures on SART services and pencils were given out to students and parents at the downtown Homecoming parade. Pinetta Fall Festival- SART gave out brochures and pencils and introduced the SART program and Refuge House to staff, parents and students. Light Up Madison – Gave out information at an activity table for children, where they could participate in, and take home, gifts from activities such as coloring pages, connect the dots, word search, jigsaw puzzles, stickers, candy, balloons, pencils and even an ornament. The older children and parents were given informational brochures of their choice and told of services offered for sexual assault victims. They were given pens, pencils or highlighters of their choice (with the crisis hotline phone number) along with holiday candy and an ornament. NFCC Allied Health - Presentation by Jessica Pinto, the Training and Community Education Program Director for Refuge House, on Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault. Rowell presented a short narrative of SART’s services, the purpose and mission of SART, and services offered through Refuge House. Students could also visit the SART booth at the Club Exposition for more information on all the services Refuge House offers. Greenville Public Library - SART worked in conjunction with the Madison County Health Dept. and spoke with students about staying safe in the summer and the importance of being aware of their surroundings. Topics were: Safety Planning Around Technology and Safety in Numbers. Kids Incorporated of the Big Bend/Bright Futures - Annual 360 Community Resource Fair, SART manned an information booth with handouts for children and parents. Attended MCCS Fall Festival and MCHS Homecoming. Rowell said SART has been able to build a relationship with over 100 professional and not for profit individuals and groups through collaborative meetings and is looking forward to this number growing in 2015. She said she has already scheduled some Professional Presentations for 2015 that will help add to the number of professional groups they partner with and she looks forward to educating and building new community partnerships this year. If you would like more information about SART, their programs or to schedule them for a presentation, contact Cherie Rowell at the Madison Outreach Office (850) 973-4144 or crowell@refugehouse.com.

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