First, Do No Harm: Trauma-Informed Interviewing

Traumatic crimes can impact victims in any number of ways, some obvious and some less so. Moreover, each victim’s response to trauma is unique to that individual. In order to keep victims safe and engaged throughout the criminal justice process, law enforcement and first responders must interact with victims in ways that consider the physical and emotional effects of trauma. Interviewers must understand more common responses to trauma that result from these effects and appreciate the impact of trauma on the victim’s ability to recall and recount details of the traumatic event.

This presentation identifies barriers to successful interviews and explores techniques for overcoming them. The presenter explains how a traditional fact-gathering approach to interviewing can be counterproductive or even harmful to the victim and to the investigation. Alternative approaches to interviewing and questioning are identified and analyzed for their potential to minimize re-traumatization and enhance our ability to recreate the reality of the crime at trial. An emphasis is placed on integrating a trauma-informed response from the first contact with a victim through the conclusion of the case, with realistic goals for interviews and meetings at every stage of the process.

At the conclusion of this presentation, participants will be better able to:

– Use open-ended and sensory questions

– Apply an ask and explain methodology

– Offer victims options and information for connecting with community resources

– Implement trauma-informed strategies that enhance victim safety and participation