Bringing the Milwaukee community together to fight sexual assault

Some of Milwaukee’s most experienced professionals in the field of sexual assault are coming together to share ideas and improve the city’s overall abuse response systems.

Modeled after the Milwaukee Homicide Review, it’s called the Milwaukee Sexual Assault Review, or MSAR, and is led by Aurora Health Care in collaboration with the Milwaukee Homicide Review Commission.

Lindsay Emer is the community research coordinator at Aurora and the facilitator of the group.

Lindsay Emer is the community research coordinator at Aurora Health Care and the facilitator of the group.

“While agencies in Milwaukee have been using this case review process to review homicides, non-fatal shootings, domestic violence cases etc., this is the first time agencies have come together in Milwaukee to conduct reviews focused solely on sexual assault,” says Lindsay Emer who is the community research coordinator at Aurora and the facilitator of the group.

“We meet once a month and review sexual assault cases that are recommended by the partners. They are cases that were particularly problematic or representative of what could be an ongoing systematic issue,” Emer explains.

In addition to Aurora Health Care, participating organizations include the Milwaukee Police Department, the Milwaukee County District Attorney’s Office, Milwaukee Homicide Review Commission, Milwaukee County Courts, WI Department of Justice, Department of Corrections, Milwaukee County District Attorney Victim Services and Marquette University.

Aurora Health Care operates the Sexual Assault Treatment Center, or SATC, located on the campus of Aurora Sinai Medical Center in Milwaukee. In 2015, the SATC treated 736 survivors of sexual assault. One of the goals of the group is to increase prosecutions of these crimes. Nurses at the SATC know how difficult that process can be for survivors.

“They have been traumatized,” explains Laura Kollatz, who is the manager of the SATC and a member of MSAR. “The bulk of victims don’t get help. Then we get patients who come in and are treated but don’t want to report it to law enforcement. Of the ones that do report, there are some who drop out of the process. They have to recount their story over and over again; there can be victim blaming. It’s a lot for someone to handle.”

So far, the group has reviewed fifteen cases. Some recommendations have already been made related to improving communication and coordination across agencies during the investigation and prosecution process. Emer says they aim to improve the overall abuse response at every level and make sure victims don’t feel retraumatized by the process that is set up to help them.

“This is an innovative, multidisciplinary approach to sexual assault prevention.  Aurora’s leadership speaks to its commitment to providing quality care for sexual assault survivors as well as preventing sexual assault in the community,” she explains.

The launch of MSAR is being funded by the GMF Bob and Linda Davis Family Fund, the Greater Milwaukee Foundation and The Brico Fund. We are truly grateful for these compassionate donors to Aurora Health Care Foundation who help enhance Aurora’s leadership on this important community issue. To learn more about the ways you can support projects like this, contact Cynthia Hosale at CLICK HERE to learn more about other Aurora Abuse Response Programs.

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