Posted: 1/07/21

TAMIU College of Nursing and Health Sciences Leads Sexual Assault Response Team Serving Laredo, Zapata


Dr. Marivic Torregosa
Dr. Marivic Torregosa  

The urgent need for a coordinated team in Laredo and Zapata able to assist victims of sexual violence and sexual assault in navigating medical, emotional and legal complexities is being addressed in 2021 by Texas A&M International University’s (TAMIU) College of Nursing and Health Sciences.

The College of Nursing and Health Sciences now leads a new Sexual Assault Response Team (SART), tasked with promoting a community-wide approach to address the needs of victims of sexual violence through synchronized work that draws multiple officials and agencies in the two communities together, said Dr. Marivic Torregosa, College of Nursing and Health Sciences dean.

“SART’s overall purpose is to develop and form a coordinated group that will work together to establish uniform sexual assault protocols and standardized interaction and responses between agencies,” Dr. Torregosa said, “Developing a SART has been extremely challenging in the past due to lack of buy-in from stakeholders, so we’ve tried a new approach and we now involve the larger community to form the team.”

Laredo and Zapata’s SART is supported by TAMIU’s federally-funded Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner (SANE) Training Program, Torregosa explained. The Program, funded by the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), prepares qualified Sexual Assault Nurse Examiners through an innovative training program delivered by the College of Nursing and Health Sciences.

The regional SART now includes law enforcement agencies, forensic medical examiners, Sexual Assault Nurse Examiners, forensic laboratory personnel, prosecutors, community-based service providers, sexual assault victim service providers, hospitals and physicians, criminal justice officials, criminal laboratories, faith-based community groups, advocacy groups and various government officials, Torregosa said.

The new  SART will meet virtually on a monthly-basis and will continue to work together in establishing standardized protocols and responses between agencies, Torregosa explained.

“During our kick-off meeting in December, where over 50 people attended, we invited state and national speakers to first talk about the benefits of having a SART as well as the importance of having an effective framework in order to ensure sustainability,” Rosario Benavides, TAMIU-SANE Program manager, “Moving forward, we plan to continue working with the Sexual Violence Justice Institute, a center funded by the U.S. Department of Justice, that assists programs like TAMIU-SANE Program in starting SARTs.”

The College of Nursing and Health Sciences, Dr. F. M. Canseco School of Nursing is approved by the Texas Board of Nursing and accredited by the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing (ACEN).

For more information about its programs, visit www.tamiu.edu/conhs.

For additional information, please contact Dr. Torregosa at mtorregosa@tamiu.edu or at 956.326.2574.

See also information about TAMIU's online Adult/Adolescent Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner SANE (CA-SANE) Didactic Course for the State of Texas.

Registration for the Spring semester 2021 is now underway online. Spring classes begin Monday, Jan. 25, 2021. Late registration continues through Friday, Jan. 29. Financial aid is available.  All University offices and the Sue and Radcliffe Killam Library are open and providing all services. Masks are required and social distancing is practiced on campus.

This work is supported by Grants 2020-TA-AX-K032 and 2015-TA-AX-K014 awarded by the Office on Violence Against Women, U. S. Department of Justice.  The opinions finding, conclusions and recommendations expressed in this program are those of the trainers and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Department of Justice, Office of Violence Against Women.