Frequently Asked Questions About SAFESTAR

SAFESTAR is a specially selected woman who has successfully completed the intensive 40-hour SAFESTAR training course. She is trained and qualified to provide emergency first aid, health care referrals, ongoing support, and forensic examinations to sexual assault victims. SAFESTARs also take a stand against sexual violence in their communities and support all victims of sexual violence.

What does the SAFESTAR course cover?

The 40-hour training course covers emergency first aid (utilizing the American Heart Association's curriculum); human anatomy; an overview of the prevalence, dynamics and responses to sexual violence in American Indian/Alaska Native communities; forensic evidence collection (“rape kits"); health care referrals; confidentiality; Federal and Tribal sexual assault laws; service referrals; and community outreach.

Who teaches the SAFESTAR course?

The SAFESTAR training course is taught by a team of committed and experienced women. These women are dedicated to eradicating sexual violence in American Indian/Alaska Native communities, supporting victims, their families, and their communities. SAFESTAR instructors include: Sexual Assault Nurse Examiners (SANEs), attorneys, Native community health experts, advocates, traditional healers, as well as experts on Tribal governance and community organizing.

Where is the SAFESTAR course taught?

The SAFESTAR course is delivered on-site directly to American Indian / Alaska Native communities.

What is the cost of a SAFESTAR training?

Qualified participants pay no cost to attend the SAFESTAR training. SAFESTAR is funded through the U.S. Department of Justice, Office on Violence Against Women. The course is free of charge to Alaska Native/American Indian communities that have successfully completed the application process.

How can I bring SAFESTAR to my community?

You may contact the Southwest Center for Law and Policy at 520-623-8192, to begin the SAFESTAR application process.

How was SAFESTAR developed?

SAFESTAR was developed by the Southwest Center for Law and Policy (SWCLAP) in collaboration with the International Association of Forensic Nurses (IAFN), Tribal and Federal victim advocates, criminal justice professionals, and health care experts. The curriculum incorporates many of the same components of the Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner (SANE) certification course, but is designed for laypersons in American Indian/Alaska Native communities.

Is the SAFESTAR curriculum recognized or approved by any Federal agencies?

Funding for SAFESTAR is provided by the United States Department of Justice, Office on Violence Against Women. The SAFESTAR curriculum has been approved by the Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI), the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA), the Indian Health Service (IHS), and the U.S. Department of Justice (USDOJ).

Can evidence collected by SAFESTARs be used in Tribal, State, or Federal criminal prosecutions?

Yes. The SAFESTAR forensic evidence collection kits have been approved by the FBI Crime Lab. The evidence may be analyzed by the FBI crime lab or by state crime labs (depending upon your jurisdiction). Following the completion of the training, Federal, Tribal, and State (some jurisdictions) criminal justice professionals meet with the SAFESTARs to develop specific protocols for the transportation of evidence kits to the appropriate crime lab; to discuss discovery and mandatory reporting issues; and to ensure a seamless, collaborative implementation of the program. SAFESTARs may also testify as "fact witnesses" or "eye witnesses" to the evidence that they observed and collected.

Why bring SAFESTAR and not Sexual Assault Nurse Examiners (SANEs) to my community?

Every victim of sexual violence deserves the same "gold standard" of health care treatment and forensic evidence collection. At this moment in time, most sexual assault victims in American Indian/Alaska Native communities lack meaningful access to Sexual Assault Nurse Examiners (SANEs). SAFESTAR is a community based response to the emergency that exists when victims lack access to important health care, safety, and justice resources.

Who can become a SAFESTAR?

A successful SAFESTAR candidate must be acknowledged as a respected individual in her community. She must not have any felony convictions or convictions for “crimes of moral turpitude” (such as shoplifting or theft). She cannot be employed by law enforcement, prosecution, or the court system. She must also be a compassionate and trusted woman dedicated to improving safety, health care, support, and justice for sexual assault victims and their families. For a more detailed discussion of selection criteria, please contact the Southwest Center for Law and Policy at 520-623-8192.