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EVAWI > Resources > Best Practices > Neurobiology of Trauma
Training Bulletins on Neurobiology of Trauma

EVAWI offers a number of training bulletins on the Neurobiology of Trauma.

Archived Webinars on Neurobiology of Sexual Assault

EVAWI offers a two-part series of webinars on the topic of Neurobiology of Sexual Assault, presented by Dr. Jim Hopper. In Part 1, he discusses Experience and Behavior. Part 2 focuses on Experience and Memory.

Neurobiology of Trauma Webinar Series

The Sexual Assault Kit Initiative has a webinar series available on the neurobiology of trauma with Dr. Rebecca Campbell.

In Part I, Dr. Campbell describes how the brain and body react to major traumas, including sexual assault. This module emphasizes the importance of understanding victim behavior during an assault and the immediate aftermath.

In Part II, participants continue to learn how the body and the brain react to major traumas, with an emphasis on understanding memory formation and recall during an assault and in the immediate aftermath.

In Part III, Dr. Campbell continues the discussion on the neurobiology of trauma with an emphasis on understanding implications for cold case investigations and victim notifications.

Archived Webinar on Forensic Experiential Trauma Interview (FETI)

Also available is a 2 part webinar series by Russell Strand, entitled Forensic Experiential Trauma Interview: A Trauma Informed Experience. This webinar provides information on the neurobiology of trauma and the implications for successfully interviewing sexual assault victims.

Archived Webinar on Victim Interviewing

It is also worth mentioning that we have another archived webinar on Effective Victim Interviewing, presented by Roger Canaff and Joanne Archambault. While it does not specifically address the neurobiology of trauma and its implications, valuable guidance is provided for successfully interviewing victims of sexual assault with an eye toward criminal prosecution.

Other Posted Webinars

Dr. David Lisak provides training on The Neurobiology of Trauma in a webinar hosted by the Arkansas Coalition Against Sexual Assault.

Published Articles

One helpful article was written by David Lisak and Dave Markel in The Police Chief magazine (2016, January). It is entitled, “Using science to increase effectiveness of sexual assault investigations.”

Dr. Jim Hopper has a number of helpful resources on the neurobiology of sexual assault. First, is a short article entitled, "Why Many Rape Victims Don't Fight or Yell." It appeared in the Washington Post on June 23, 2015, and provides an excellent summary of the neurobiology of trauma and the implications for victim behavior during a sexual assault. Dr. Hopper also maintains a webpage on sexual assault and the brain, as well as a blog and a YouTube channel.

Dr. Hopper also co-authored an article with Dr. David Lisak, entitled: "Why Rape and Trauma Survivors Have Fragmented and Incomplete Memories." This article was posted on Time.com, and it also provides a detailed yet accessible explanation of how trauma can impact behavior and memory. The article draws helpful parallels to the scenario where a police officer is "suddenly staring at the wrong end of a gun."

Finally, there is a short article posted on Slate that offers a practical description of the issues involved in trauma, neurobiology, memory, and police interview.

Training Module on Victim Interviewing

We also offer a training module in the OnLine Training Institute (OLTI) entitled, Interviewing the Victim: Techniques Based on the Realistic Dynamics of Sexual Assault. This module was written in 2007, and although we made some updates in 2013, we have not yet incorporated information on the neurobiology of sexual assault and the implications for conducting a trauma-informed interview. Nonetheless, we recommend this training module in the strongest possible terms, because it offers hundreds of pages with detailed information on topics such as:

  • Strategizing an interview approach based on case facts
  • Planning and preparing for heightened effectiveness and avoiding common pitfalls
  • Establishing rapport and a building relationship of trust with the victim
  • Gathering information to support a successful investigation and prosecution
  • Closing the interview and following up with the victim

For victims who have a disability, even more detailed guidance is provided in the training module on Successfully Investigating Sexual Assault Against Victims with Disabilities.

The Trauma-Informed Response to Sexual Violence Victims - An Introductory Video

The Florida Council Against Sexual Violence created this introductory video for patrol officers on trauma-informed responses to sexual violence. This video reviews the importance of this type of response, with a basic overview of the effects of trauma and the key aspects of a trauma-informed response.

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