New protocol unveiled for state response to adult sexual assault victims


PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — When a person seeks help after being sexually assaulted, there’s now a complex policy in place in Rhode Island to help responders and law enforcement know what to do to help that victim.

Trauma and sexual assault support agency Day One officially launched the protocol in a news conference Friday morning while backed by the state’s police chiefs’ association, local doctors, and government leaders. Law enforcement, hospitals, victim service providers and prosecutors will now receive training in the protocol statewide.

The statewide Task Force to Address Adult Sexual Assault has been among those working on the protocol for about five years, according to Day One Executive Director Peg Langhammer. She said a new, unified protocol was needed to address a lack of consistent collaboration among the various disciplines: first responders, medical caregivers, and law enforcement.

“We were doing some things well, but at best, we were a ‘B’ team,” Langhammer said. “We knew we could do better for victims.”

The mission is to minimize trauma to a victim by responding in a compassionate, sensitive, and non-judgmental manner and hold offenders accountable by focusing on behavior and actions.

Though 63 percent of adult sexual assaults still go unreported, Langhammer noted that people — and those who sit on juries in sexual assault cases — have a greater understanding of what sexual assault is and how there may be a greater likelihood of sexual assault being committed between people who know each other, rather than a stranger being attacked at random.

“Today, we say to victims everywhere that, working together, we will do everything to make these systems work for you,” Langhammer added.

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