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Sexual Assault Crimes Training for Law Enforcement Module 2: Interviewing Victims & Effective Report Writing.

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Presentation on theme: "Sexual Assault Crimes Training for Law Enforcement Module 2: Interviewing Victims & Effective Report Writing."— Presentation transcript:

1 Sexual Assault Crimes Training for Law Enforcement Module 2: Interviewing Victims & Effective Report Writing

2 ACTIVITY What Do You Already Know? 1

3 What You Will Learn Considerations for working with sexual assault victims and witnesses in preliminary and follow up interviews Barriers to effective interviewing Report writing techniques that support the successful prosecution of cases 2

4 ACTIVITY 1.What is the single most important factor in determining success of interviews with sexual assault victims? 2.How long should you wait before holding the first interview ? 3

5 Who is Present for the Interview? Victim and Officer Victim Advocate, if victim wishes Ask victim privately about other support people Do not include witnesses in interview with victim (even if they are supportive) 4

6 Conducting the Interview Ask the victim where they would like to do interview Reassure the victim it’s not their fault Sit down if possible and try to respect the physical space a victim might want Use smooth movements and a calm voice; try to express patience, friendliness, and support 5

7 Ask Victim to Describe Experiences in Their Own Words Ask the victim to describe the assault, listing as many details and feelings as possible Ask what the environment was like - what did they see/ hear/ feel/ smell/ taste? Document what “no” looked like and when – note all verbal AND non-verbal lack of consent If a consensual encounter turned non- consensual, ask about how and when the perpetrator's behavior changed 6

8 Use Open-Ended Prompts Try using the following questions to guide your conversation: And then what happened? Tell me what you were thinking at that point. Tell me what you were feeling when the offender did that. What can you remember saying and doing? 7

9 Always remember to do the following when working with a victim of sexual assault: LISTEN and don’t interrupt Ask for only what they can recall at the moment Be comfortable with pauses Avoid leading questions Let the victim know they can ask for a break Let the victim know it’s okay to say “I don’t know” Keep in mind that information gathered following experiencing a trauma may come out in spurts, be out of order, or be inaccurate Keep in mind that you will be able to sort out an accurate timeline later 8 Allow Information to Flow for the Victim

10 Common Responses to Trauma Perceptual narrowing Loss of cognitive and motor skills Critical incident amnesia Discomfort with discussing details Inconsistencies in relaying information; however, it does not mean it’s a false report 9

11 Allow Victim to Take the Lead Allow the victim to focus on one topic until the mental picture becomes clear and the retrieved information complete Silence allows the victim to collect their thoughts Use natural pauses to ask questions and clarify – “Do I have that right?” Write down your own questions for the follow up interview 10

12 Additional Challenges for Victims Possible illegal activity – drug or underage alcohol use Status in oppressed or underserved groups Immigration status issues Cultural issues can affect victim reactions 11

13 Working with Under-Served Populations Show sensitivity Keep in mind they have likely had a negative experience with a person in a position of power in the past Be mindful about victims’ fears of working with law enforcement 12

14 Victim May Give You Information Remember that experiencing trauma can affect memory. Victims might share information that is: Not consistent Not true Not complete But that does NOT mean it’s a false report. 13

15 Purpose of Follow Up Interview Gather additional information and clarify any questions – not to go over the same material again 14

16 Arranging Follow Up Interview Make sure victim has had adequate rest before the second interview Ask where victim would like to conduct interview - where victim feels safe Assist with transportation if needed Contact a Victim Advocate if victim wishes (if this hasn’t happened already) 15

17 Explain Process to the Victim Explain that other people will be reading report Remind victim it wasn’t their fault Explain that we need to clarify any inconsistencies so that other people who read the report will understand what happened Explain why you are asking about specific details about sex acts or other issues - for example, to meet legal requirements to show a sexual assault occurred 16

18 Additional Items to Address Let victim know it’s better if they disclose any illegal activity sooner – helps their credibility Address victim concerns about prosecution Don’t ask victim whether they want to participate in prosecution yet – wait until end of investigation Explain next steps in the process Reassure that assault wasn’t their fault 17

19 ACTIVITY One Minute Review – Fact Check 18

20 ACTIVITY What are the barriers to effective interviewing of sexual assault victims? 19

21 Report Writing Purpose is to support successful prosecution Recreate reality of what happened from perspective of victim Reminder: Lack of consent is communicated through more than just words – victims look away, close eyes, position or move their body as strategies to survive the assault 20

22 Document Victim’s Experience Record what victim was thinking and feeling: Before During After the assault Preserve any slang or street terms victim uses – important not to “clean up” for the report (but be sure you and victim are communicating clearly) 21

23 Use Language of Non-Consensual Sex Use words that describe parts of the body: Forced penis into vagina (instead of “sexual intercourse” Forced tongue into vagina or penis into mouth (instead of “oral sex”) Hand on victim’s breast (instead of “fondle” or “caress”) 22

24 Include in the Report Grooming behavior by offender Context of fear, force, threat, coercion and/or inability to consent by the victim Victim’s experience of tonic immobility Environment in which assault took place – isolation, sound proofing Evidence of verbal and/or physical resistance from the victim 23

25 More Elements to Include Factors increasing victim’s vulnerability (youth, inexperience, subordinate position, immigration status) Evidence of genital and/or non-genital injury Changes in routine habits after assault (such as dramatic weight gain/loss) Relevant electronic evidence – text messages, Facebook posts, etc. 24

26 Documentation Be sure to document ALL information from the victim, even if it doesn’t cast them in a positive light Look for ways to document the victim’s behaviors and state of mind before and after assault – how did the victim change? Find out who the victim told following the assault; often called the “outcry witness” 25

27 ACTIVITY One Sentence Summary on Report Writing 26

28 ACTIVITY Review of Learning Compare and contrast the knowledge and assumptions you had about investigations and report writing with what you know now. Use the worksheet to write down some comparisons. 27

29 Checklists to Review on Your Own What to SAY to a Victim During First Response What to SAY to a Victim During the Follow Up Interview What to GIVE a Victim Forensic Exams - Victims and Suspects Reminders for Report Writing for Sexual Assault Crimes 28

30 Special Thanks Special thanks to Joanne Archambault, End Violence Against Women International (EVAWI). Foundational material in this module is based on concepts and information found in the Online Training Institute developed by EVAWI. For more information, please contact: Joanne Archambault, Executive Director End Violence Against Women International (EVAWI) This module was produced by Connecticut Sexual Assault Crisis Services, Inc. (CONNSACS) in collaboration with the Connecticut Police Officers Standards and Training Council (POSTC) and the Connecticut Police Chiefs Association (CPCA) through the support of subgrant No WF-AX-0019 awarded by the state administrating office for the STOP Formula Grant Program. The opinions, findings, conclusions, and recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the state or the U.S. Department of Justice, Office on Violence Against Women. 29

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