Best Practice Resources

Best Practice Resources

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EVAWI offers two Online Training Institute (OLTI) modules on victim advocacy. Both provide similar content, but one offers detailed guidance for advocates themselves, while the other is written in a more generalized way for other professionals to better understand the advocacy role:

Effective Victim Advocacy Within the Criminal Justice System offers detailed guidance on the role of community-based and system-based victim advocates, particularly focused on the role of advocates in relation to the criminal justice system. Although the content is relevant for any professional involved in responding to sexual assault victims, this module is written primarily for advocates themselves.

Breaking Barriers: The Role of Community-Based and System-Based Victim Advocates is also relevant for any professional involved in responding to sexual assault, but written in a more generalized way for other professionals, not advocates themselves, to better understand this role.

EVAWI offers a training bulletin entitled, Advocates and Law Enforcement: Oil and Water, which explores the tension sometimes experienced between these two professional disciplines. The training bulletin begins by offering a detailed description of the advocate’s role during the criminal justice process. It then goes on to address the common reluctance of law enforcement to involve advocates in this process, by exploring some causal factors and outlining strategies to resolve them. 

EVAWI also offers a 2-part series, Notification of Advocates and HIPAA Protections and More on Advocates, Routine Notification, and HIPAA, examining the question of whether routine notification of advocates violates the privacy protections outlined in HIPAA (the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996). In short, the answer is no: routine notification of victim advocates does not violate HIPAA, but there are issues worth considering.

Additional information is provided in EVAWI’s Frequently Asked Questions on the topic of Advocacy.

The National Network to End Domestic Violence (NNEDV) offers guidance for advocates and agencies who work with survivors of domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, and stalking. Two resources address common questions on confidentiality and release of information: Technology & Confidentiality Resources Toolkit and Frequently Asked Questions on Survivor Confidentiality Releases.

The National Crime Victim Law Institute also has a publication on confidentiality titled: Confidentiality and Sexual Violence Survivors: A Toolkit for State Coalitions.

In 2019, the International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP) released a resolution declaring that law enforcement agencies should integrate victim services into their day-to-day operations so crime victims have immediate access to professionals who understand the complexities of trauma and victim needs. It is titled: The Importance of Law Enforcement-Based Victim Services in the United States.

For more information on the benefits of an advocate, please see EVAWI’s Frequently Asked Questions on the topic.

AEquitas published a document summarizing state laws addressing the presence of a victim advocate during a medical forensic examination (as of 2013). It is titled, Presence of Victim Advocate During Sexual Assault Exam: Summary of State Laws.

For more information, please see EVAWI’s Frequently Asked Questions on the topic of Advocacy.

The US Department of Justice, Office for Victims of Crime (OVC) hosts Victim Assistance Training Online (VAT Online), a web-based training program that helps victim services providers and allied professionals to acquire the basic skills and knowledge they need to better assist victims of crime.

In 1999, the California Coalition Against Sexual Assault (now ValurUS) published an Advocacy Manual which includes a thorough description of the criminal justice system. While the manual is now more than 20 years old, it has been updated and still provides valuable and relevant information to assist victim advocates.

EVAWI offers an Online Training Institute (OLTI) module entitled Opening Doors: Alternative Reporting Options for Sexual Assault Victims. After defining key concepts, this module examines policy and practice considerations for communities seeking to implement such options. Ultimately, victims who have more ways to access information and support, to receive physical and psychological care, and to preserve the viability of a criminal justice intervention, will have more opportunities to successfully participate in the criminal justice process if and when they choose to do.

EVAWI offers a webinar titled, Opening Doors: Alternative Reporting Options for Sexual Assault Victims that explores strategies to increase reporting options for sexual assault victims, grounded in a victim-centered and trauma-informed philosophy, encapsulated in the concepts of one step at a time and opening doors. After outlining key concepts, presenters examine policy and practice considerations for communities seeking to implement such reporting options. Ultimately, victims who have more ways to access information and support, to receive physical and psychological care, and to preserve the viability of a criminal justice intervention, will have more opportunities to successfully participate in the criminal justice process if and when they choose to.

An additional EVAWI webinar focuses on Alternative Reporting Options for Sexual Assault: An Overview of the You Have Options Program. As described in this webinar, the YHOP program offers sexual assault victims a variety of reporting options, including “Information Only,” “Partial Investigation,” and “Complete Investigation.” To become certified by YHOP, law enforcement agencies must commit to the program’s “20 Elements of a Victim-Centered and Offender-Focused Response.” However, agencies can also adopt individual elements of the YHOP program without certification. In this webinar, discussion focuses on the “20 Elements” and the implementation process for law enforcement agencies.

The term “converted case” is used when a victim presents for a medical forensic exam and initially declines to speak with law enforcement, but ultimately decides to “convert” and fully participate in the criminal justice process. To explore this topic, EVAWI offers a webinar on Investigating and Prosecuting ‘Converted’ Cases. Questions include: “What should we call these cases?” “How are they viewed?” “How should they be investigated?” “How do we overcome challenges for prosecution?”

EVAWI offers Explore Your Options, where survivors and their support people can gather detailed information about health care, victim advocates, medical forensic exams, and reporting to law enforcement. This includes notification that survivors can obtain a medical forensic examination free of charge, and regardless of whether they participate in the criminal justice process. Topics also include options available for sexual assault survivors on campus, in the workplace, or in the US military.

In a training bulletin entitled, Should We ‘Test Anonymous Kits?’, EVAWI addresses the question of whether or not evidence collected in association with a non-investigative report should be submitted to the laboratory for analysis. In short, the answer is no. The bulletin goes on to explain the rationale for this answer.

Additional information is provided in EVAWI’s Frequently Asked Questions on the topic of Alternative Reporting Options.

Commerce City Police Department in Colorado offers online reporting of sexual assault through the You Have Options Program. The program provides information for survivors and support people written in a warm, reassuring tone that provides concrete instructions and addresses immediate concerns survivors are likely to have.

Our VOICE advocacy program in Asheville, North Carolina, collaboratively developed a program for online reporting with the Asheville Police Department and the Buncombe County Sheriff’s Office. An online form is provided on the Our VOICE website. Victims are advised that they may provide as much or as little information about their sexual assault as they choose. They are also free to provide contact information for themselves and/or for the suspect(s), but an investigation will not be started unless the survivor chooses that option. Our VOICE staff reviews all of the reports, and submits them to the appropriate law enforcement agency.

Procedures for anonymous (and non-investigative) reporting are outlined in two New Hampshire documents: the statewide protocol for medical forensic examinations and the state protocol for Sexual Assault Resource Teams (SARTs). In New Hampshire, anonymous reporting is available to patients 18 years or older who have a medical forensic exam (and do not have certain types of injuries). A unique serial number is assigned to the evidence, in place of the victim’s name. The evidence is then stored by law enforcement agency with jurisdiction; the recommended period in the protocol is the statute of limitations or 20 years. No investigation or testing is conducted with the evidence, unless the victim contacts the law enforcement agency to initiate participation in the investigative process.

Modeled after the National Protocol for Sexual Assault Medical Forensic Examinations, the Colorado Sexual Assault Evidence Collection Protocol is designed to assist health care providers with the consistent and complete collection of the sexual assault evidence collection kit. It incorporates Colorado’s three options for reporting: Law Enforcement Report, Medical Report, and Anonymous Report (these options are not available to minors or at-risk elders). A Law Enforcement Report is a standard report, meaning the victim chooses to report the assault to law enforcement, and provides their name and contact information. The term Medical Report is used when the victim chooses to have evidence from a medical forensic exam provided to law enforcement with their name and contact information. They can then decide whether this evidence will be submitted to the laboratory for testing. The term Anonymous Report is used when the victim chooses to have evidence from an exam provided to law enforcement without their name or contact information. This evidence will not be submitted to the laboratory for testing. The protocol also includes consent forms for victims to choose one of these three reporting options and document their consent to the medical forensic exam and/or testing evidence/release of results.

The intent of the Nebraska Medical Sexual Assault Protocol is to assist medical providers with statewide best practice standards for medical forensic examinations. In addition to full law enforcement reporting, the protocol outlines procedures for a Partial Report with Evidence Collection (where evidence from the medical forensic exam is submitted to the laboratory for DNA testing, and any foreign DNA profiles potentially uploaded into CODIS) and Anonymous Reporting (where evidence is stored by law enforcement for 20 years, and no testing/investigation conducted unless the victim converts to full participating by contacting the agency).

The Ohio Protocol for Sexual Assault Forensic and Medical Examination is also based on the National Protocol for Sexual Assault Medical Forensic Examinations, to help ensure comprehensive care of sexual assault patients. The protocol also includes an option for anonymous reporting. Adult patients can decide whether or not to speak with law enforcement, and if not, the hospital or exam facility will provide only the date and general assault location to law enforcement, not the patient’s name, address, or other identifying information. Included in the protocol are the General Consent Form, Consent Form for Anonymous Evidence Collection, and a Model for Developing a Sexual Assault Community Protocol.

Cambria County, Pennsylvania created a Sexual Assault Protocol that includes procedures for anonymous reporting (for victims age 18 and over). The document also includes a consent form for victims to authorize the collection, documentation, and release of evidence stored by the municipal police department. The form also includes a brief explanation of key concepts for victims, including the fact that they will not be billed for the exam, that their medical records will remain private, and that their evidence will be stored for 2 years. Victims can choose whether or not they would like to be contacted 3 weeks before the evidence will be destroyed. If so, the form documents their preferences and various methods of contacting them.

EVAWI offers Explore Your Options, where survivors and their support people can gather detailed information about health care, victim advocates, medical forensic exams, and reporting to law enforcement. This includes notification that survivors can obtain a medical forensic examination free of charge, and regardless of whether they participate in the criminal justice process. Topics also include options available for sexual assault survivors on campus, in the workplace, or in the US military.

Commerce City Police Department in Colorado offers detailed information for survivors and support people on how to report a sexual assault using the phone, an online reporting phone, or in-person through the You Have Options Program. The information is written in a warm, reassuring tone that provides concrete instructions and addresses immediate concerns survivors are likely to have.

Colorado created a brochure and website, offering information for survivors and support people on the three options for reporting sexual assault to law enforcement: Law Enforcement Report, Medical Report, and Anonymous Report. A Law Enforcement Report is a standard report, meaning the victim chooses to report the assault to law enforcement, and provides their name and contact information. The term Medical Report is used when the victim chooses to have evidence from a medical forensic exam provided to law enforcement with their name and contact information. They can then decide whether this evidence will be submitted to the laboratory for testing. The term Anonymous Report is used when the victim chooses to have evidence from an exam provided to law enforcement without their name or contact information. This evidence will not be submitted to the laboratory for testing.

The Austin, Texas Sexual Assault Response and Resource Team (SARRT) created a Public Service Announcement to encourage sexual assault reporting, by communicating the message that every effort will be made to treat victims compassionately and handle their cases professionally. The Sex Crimes Unit of the Austin Police Department was also featured in an article in a local Spanish-language newspaper, to direct outreach at this underserved segment of the community.

In January 2017, the US Department of Justice, Office on Violence Against Women (OVW) published a critical position paper, offering guidance on the storage and testing of evidence in a non-investigative case. Entitled Sexual Assault Kit Testing Initiatives and Non-Investigative Kits, the paper outlines three reasons for not submitting evidence in a non-investigative case to the laboratory for analysis. It also offers background, guidance, and context for this complex and challenging issue.

EVAWI also offers a training bulletin entitled, Should We ‘Test Anonymous Kits?’ which addresses the question of whether or not evidence collected in association with a non-investigative report should be submitted to the laboratory for analysis. In short, the answer is no. The bulletin goes on to explain the rationale for this answer.

For more information, please see EVAWI’s Frequently Asked Questions on the topic of Alternative Reporting Options.

The Naval Criminal Investigative Service (NCIS) Victim Preference Statement describes various reporting options for victims, explains their limitations, records the victim’s decisions regarding reporting and participation, and documents the involvement of an advocate or other advisor in the process. A second example of a Victim Preference Statement appears in the SAPR Toolkit. It provides information for victims about their options and documents their reporting selection.

Sample forms are also available to document victim consent to release evidence from a medical forensic exam to law enforcement, when they convert from an alternative reporting option to participation in the investigative process. Examples, come from (1) the Texas Department of Public Safety, (2) Duluth Minnesota, and (3) the Trauma Recovery Center at the University of California San Francisco.

Two states have developed instructional materials to provide guidance for mailing evidence to the state crime laboratory when a forensic examination is conducted without a report to law enforcement: the Texas Department of Public Safety and the Virginia Division of Consolidated Laboratory Services. The Virginia instructions include photographs to illustrate the process, as well as a consent form for sexual assault victims to sign documenting their understanding of the process. Procedures for mailing evidence are a standard practice for many law enforcement agencies; these materials address the specific context when evidence is mailed by health care providers rather than law enforcement investigators.

The You Have Options Program (YHOP) offers sexual assault victims a variety of reporting options, as described in an EVAWI webinar entitled Alternative Reporting Options for Sexual Assault: An Overview of the You Have Options Program. These options include “Information Only” reporting “Partial Investigation,” and “Complete Investigation.” To become certified by YHOP, law enforcement agencies must commit to the program’s “20 Elements of a Victim-Centered and Offender-Focused Response.” However, agencies can also adopt individual elements of the YHOP program without certification. In this webinar, discussion focuses on the “20 Elements” and the implementation process for law enforcement agencies.

Commerce City Police Department in Colorado has adopted the You Have Options Program, offering information for survivors and support people on how to report a sexual assault using the phone, an online reporting phone, or in-person. The information is written in a warm, reassuring tone that provides concrete instructions and addresses immediate concerns survivors are likely to have.

EVAWI offers a training bulletin on Sexual Harassment and Sexual Assault: Understanding the Distinctions and Intersections. Civil sexual harassment and criminal sexual assault differ in many ways, including relief for the victim, consequences for both individual and organizational defendants, and the standards of proof, among other factors. While these issues are very complex, we try to provide a simple and straightforward summary, to clarify some of the key concepts and distinctions.

The National Crime Victim Law Institute (NCVLI) offers a comprehensive publication entitled, Rights and Remedies: Meeting the Civil Legal Needs of Sexual Violence Survivors. NCVLI also hosts a Victim Law Library with documents on a wide variety of specific topics, such as privacy rights, discovery requests, and others.

The Illinois Coalition Against Sexual Assault (ICASA) provides more concrete, survivor-centered guidance in their Guide to Civil Lawsuits: Practical Considerations for Survivors of Rape and Childhood Sexual Abuse. Similar guidance is provided in A Survivor’s Guide to Filing a Civil Lawsuit by the Washington Coalition of Sexual Assault Programs (WCSAP).

EVAWI offers an Online Training Institute (OLTI) module on Untested Evidence and the Investigation of Cold Sexual Assault Cases, with concrete recommendations for policies and practice, including the creation of a Cold Case Unit and tools to prioritize testing and investigations. Specific guidance is also offered for notifying victims that their investigation has been re-opened, keeping victims informed of the status of their case, and providing ongoing victim support throughout the criminal justice process. Perhaps most important, the module highlights the need for resources to support the analysis of sexual assault kits and other evidence, as well as the investigation and prosecution of sexual assault cases – both old and new.

EVAWI offers a webinar on Unsubmitted Sexual Assault Kits: Changing What We Know About Rape. Presenters describe efforts of the Cuyahoga County (Ohio) Sexual Assault Kit Task Force which began investigating and prosecuting cases from approximately 5,000 previously unsubmitted SAKs with DNA evidence. Researchers coded a random sample of 243 cases, and this webinar details key findings from this study and explores the implications for reforming how sexual assaults are investigated and prosecuted.

Another EVAWI webinar describes the efforts of the Jacksonville (Florida) Sheriff’s Office, an early participant in the Sexual Assault Kit Initiative (SAKI). The Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office used SAKI funds to submit kits for analysis and assigned advocates, investigators, and prosecutors to pursue investigative leads for previously overlooked cases. Sex Crimes Cold Case: Learning From the Ghosts of Investigations Past discusses lessons learned and explores promising practices in cold case investigations. 

The Sexual Assault Kit Initiative (SAKI) website offers a wide variety of resources related to cold case investigation, including specialized units. For example, the SAKI Welcome Packet includes guidance on Cold Case Sexual Assault Investigation: Key Considerations and Recommendations. Also available are a number of SAKI TTA Recommendations for Effective Practices, including Core Standards for Sexual Assault Investigations.

The US Department of Justice, Office for Victims of Crime (OVC) offers a Sexual Assault Response Team (SART) Toolkit. In Innovative Practices for Law Enforcement, guidance is provided on Cold Case Investigations. Topics include questions of evidence storage, victim notification, and prosecuting cases after a significant amount of time has passed.

A Sexual Assault Kit (SAK) Task Force was established in Cuyahoga County, Ohio, to investigate and potentially prosecute cases associated with approximately 5,000 previously unsubmitted SAKs with DNA evidence. Research has since been conducted by the Cuyahoga County Sexual Assault Kit (SAK) Pilot Research Project to understand more about these unsubmitted SAKs and explore how this can inform criminal justice responses across the country regarding untested DNA evidence. Several research briefs summarize their findings, also covered in the EVAWI webinar, Unsubmitted Sexual Assault Kits: Changing What We Know About Rape.

Similarly, the Detroit Sexual Assault Kit (SAK) Action Research Project (ARP) was created to develop long-term strategies to decrease the volume of untested sexual assault kits in Detroit, Michigan. This multidisciplinary action research brought together researchers and practitioners from law enforcement, prosecution, forensic sciences, forensic nursing, and victim advocacy to address four primary goals. For more information and groundbreaking findings, please see the report entitled: Detroit Sexual Assault Kit (SAK) Action Research Project (ARP), Final Report.

For more information, please see EVAWI’s Frequently Asked Questions on the topic of Evidence.

Many tools offer guidance on notifying victims when the evidence in a cold sexual assault case will be tested or picked up for renewed investigation. For example, the Sexual Assault Kit Initiative (SAKI) offers a 4-page document addressing 12 Key Questions to Guide Victim Notification Protocols. It is designed to help communities grapple the questions of whether, when, why, and how to notify victims about testing (previously untested) evidence.

The National Institute of Justice (NIJ) also offers lessons learned from several research projects funded by NIJ, and recommendations for victim notification, in Notifying Sexual Assault Victims After Testing Evidence

One NIJ-funded research project was the Sexual Assault Kit Action-Research Task Force in Houston, Texas. They published Complainant Notification and Information Line Protocols, offering guidance for how cold case investigations will proceed after analysis of the sexual assault kit (SAK) is complete, including investigative and victim notification procedures.

Another NIJ-funded research project was the Detroit Sexual Assault Action Kit project, which published a Final Report on their findings, conclusions, and recommendations. Several address topics related to Victim Notification.

The Oregon Attorney General’s Sexual Assault Task Force (SATF) convened a Victim Notification Work Group to develop recommendations for notifying survivors after processing untested Sexual Assault Forensic Evidence (SAFE) Kits. Their publication, Survivor Notification: Recommendations for Oregon, offers definitions of terms for practitioners, detailed information on who, when, and how a survivor should be contacted, sample language practitioners can use when notifying survivors, and a sample letter to use when phone or in-person contacts have not been successful.

Finally, the Joyful Heart Foundation has a publication, entitled Navigating Notification: A Guide to Re-Engaging Sexual Assault Survivors Affected by the Untested Rape Kit Backlog. This report summarizes findings from interviews with 19 sexual assault survivors and 79 professionals from a variety of involved disciplines.

EVAWI offers a 3-part series of training bulletins on Crime Victims’ Rights, providing a basic introduction to the topic and outlining the requirements for informing victims about their rights, the process for asserting those rights, and procedures to follow when victims feel their rights have been violated during a criminal or civil proceeding.

The National Crime Victim Law Institute (NCVLI) offers a comprehensive publication entitled, A Criminal Justice Guide: Legal Remedies for Adult Victims of Sexual Violence. NCVLI also hosts a Victim Law Library with documents on a wide variety of specific topics, such as crime victim rights, courtroom procedures, evidentiary issues, the confrontation clause, restitution, and others. The library also includes detailed information on crime victim rights in each state and federal jurisdiction.

EVAWI offers an Online Training Institute (OLTI) module on Laboratory Analysis of Biological Evidence and the Role of DNA in Sexual Assault Investigations. This comprehensive module explores the complex role of DNA in a sexual assault investigation, including various sources of DNA evidence and their potential impact on a sexual assault investigation. The module also includes case examples, providing the opportunity to apply what is learned in a variety of real-world scenarios.

Another OLTI module addresses Untested Evidence and the Investigation of Cold Sexual Assault Cases, providing concrete recommendations for policies and practice, including the creation of a Cold Case Unit and tools to prioritize testing and investigations. Specific guidance is also offered for notifying victims that their investigation has been re-opened, keeping victims informed of the status of their case, and providing ongoing victim support throughout the criminal justice process. Perhaps most important, the module highlights the need for resources to support the analysis of sexual assault kits and other evidence, as well as the investigation and prosecution of sexual assault cases – both old and new.

EVAWI offers a webinar on Unsubmitted Sexual Assault Kits: Changing What We Know About Rape. In it, presenters describe efforts of the Cuyahoga County (Ohio) Sexual Assault Kit Task Force which began investigating and prosecuting cases from approximately 5,000 previously unsubmitted SAKs with DNA evidence. Researchers coded a random sample of 243 cases, and this webinar details key findings and explores the implications for reforming how sexual assaults are investigated and prosecuted.

Another EVAWI webinar describes the efforts of the Jacksonville (Florida) Sheriff’s Office, an early participant in the Sexual Assault Kit Initiative (SAKI). The Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office used SAKI funds to submit kits for analysis and assigned advocates, investigators, and prosecutors to pursue investigative leads for previously overlooked cases. Sex Crimes Cold Case: Learning From the Ghosts of Investigations Past discusses lessons learned and explores promising practices in cold case investigations. 

A Sexual Assault Kit (SAK) Task Force was established in Cuyahoga County, Ohio, to investigate and potentially prosecute cases associated with approximately 5,000 previously unsubmitted SAKs with DNA evidence. Research has since been conducted by the Cuyahoga County Sexual Assault Kit (SAK) Pilot Research Project to understand more about these unsubmitted SAKs and explore how this can inform criminal justice responses across the country regarding untested DNA evidence. Several research briefs summarize their findings, also covered in the EVAWI webinar, Unsubmitted Sexual Assault Kits: Changing What We Know About Rape.

Another webinar describes the Jacksonville (Florida) Sheriff’s Office effort to test their untested evidence through the Sexual Assault Kit Initiative (SAKI), Sex Crimes Cold Case: Learning From the Ghosts of Investigations Past

Finally, the Detroit Sexual Assault Kit (SAK) Action Research Project (ARP) was created to develop long-term strategies to decrease the volume of untested sexual assault kits in Detroit, Michigan. This multidisciplinary action research brought together researchers and practitioners from law enforcement, prosecution, forensic sciences, forensic nursing, and victim advocacy to address four primary goals. For more information and groundbreaking findings, please see the report entitled: Detroit Sexual Assault Kit (SAK) Action Research Project (ARP), Final Report.

For more information, please see EVAWI’s Frequently Asked Questions on the topic of Evidence.

Sexual violence is a common component of intimate partner violence, but victims are often far less likely to disclose acts of sexual violence than physical violence to law enforcement. This challenge is addressed in an EVAWI webinar entitled, Uncovering Sexual Assault in Domestic Violence Calls: An Improved Law Enforcement Response to Assess for Sexual Violence, Build an Evidence Based Case, and Reduce Gender Bias. Among other concrete recommendations offered by the presenter, investigators are advised to make it a standard practice to assess whether sexual violence is also occurring in cases of intimate partner violence.

Technology tools have become increasingly critical for individuals and organizations. Yet the speed with which tools become available can create confusion regarding which ones should be recommended for victims and survivors to use. In this EVAWI webinar, Documenting Domestic Violence: Considerations When Recommending Tech Tools for Victims, the presenter shares detailed considerations that should be vetted before a specific product or tool should be recommended.

Another EVAWI webinar, Community Informed Risk Assessment: Intimate Partner Violence, Including Sexual Assault, covers the development and application of the Arizona Intimate Partner Risk Assessment Instrument System (APRAIS). Among other topics, the presenters explore the deployment of the tool and its accompanying protocols in the fields of law enforcement, victim advocacy, and the courts. 

The University of Texas at Austin created training videos to help police, prosecutors, and advocates respond to sexual assault. One 9-minute segment addresses the issues involved with Intimate Partner Violence and Sexual Assault.

The American Bar Association (ABA) Commission on Domestic and Sexual Violence offers a summary of Domestic Violence Civil Protection Orders available in each state.

EVAWI offers a 2-part webinar entitled, “New Frontiers in Investigating and Prosecuting Sexual Assault by Intoxication.” In Part 1 and Part 2, training addresses issues that investigators, prosecutors, victim advocates, and medical personal often encounter in alcohol facilitated sexual assaults, including memory loss and challenges of victim shame, embarrassment, and lack of trust in law enforcement.

Few cases are more challenging for investigators and prosecutors than non-stranger sexual assaults that involve alcohol use, especially voluntary drinking on the part of the victim. EVAWI offers a webinar entitled: A Dangerous Defense: “Blackout” in Alcohol Facilitated, Non-Stranger Sexual Assault Cases which reviews the basic physical facts of “blacking out” vs. “passing out,” helps investigators and prosecutors distinguish the two, and examines what evidence can be gathered from victims, witnesses, and other sources to demonstrate whether one or the other was at work.

Sexual assault, especially non-stranger assaults in alcohol and drug-fueled settings often involve some of the most difficult and delicate case dynamics when it comes to working with victims and witnesses. In EVAWI’s webinar, Challenging Victims: The Delicate Dynamics of Drug and Alcohol Facilitated Sexual Assault, best practices are detailed for making initial victim contact, collaborating between investigators and prosecutors, interviewing victims, requesting investigative follow-up, and using expert witnesses to explain victim-perpetrator dynamics in sexual assault cases.

A 4-part video series produced by the US Department of Justice provides valuable insight into the problem of alcohol-facilitated sexual assault in Indian Country.

Also available is a 9-minute training video created by the University of Texas at Austin on Alcohol and Drugs in Sexual Assault Cases. This video is one in a series designed to help police, prosecutors, and advocates respond to sexual assault.

EVAWI offers an Online Training Institute (OLTI) module on Crime Scene Processing and Recovery of Physical Evidence from Sexual Assault Scenes. This module provides guidance on the systematic process that law enforcement should employ in every major criminal investigation, to document and preserve a location where criminal activity is known or suspected to have occurred. The module includes photographs from a mock sexual assault crime scene to illustrate key training points.

Another OLTI module focuses on Laboratory Analysis of Biological Evidence and the Role of DNA in Sexual Assault Investigations. This comprehensive module explores the complex role of DNA in a sexual assault investigation, including various sources of DNA evidence and their potential impact on a sexual assault investigation. The module also includes case examples, providing the opportunity to apply what is learned in real-world scenarios.

A third OLTI module addresses Untested Evidence and the Investigation of Cold Sexual Assault Cases, providing concrete recommendations for policies and practice, including the creation of a Cold Case Unit and tools to prioritize testing and investigations. Specific guidance is also offered for notifying victims that their investigation has been re-opened, keeping victims informed of the status of their case, and providing ongoing victim support throughout the criminal justice process. Perhaps most important, the module highlights the need for resources to support the analysis of sexual assault kits and other evidence, as well as the investigation and prosecution of sexual assault cases – both old and new.

In the age of television crime shows, juries often want to see more than just testimony: They want physical evidence. Corroborating victim testimony is therefore crucial to presenting the best case possible. EVAWI offers a webinar entitled, After the Interview – Now the Work Begins: Corroborating Evidence and Case Review, to provide guidance on identifying, collecting, and utilizing corroborating evidence.

Technology changes quickly and law enforcement often faces significant challenges to keep up. In another EVAWI webinar, entitled Digital Evidence: Successfully Identifying and Acquiring Electronic Evidence to Combat the CSI Effect, two expert investigators review various types of digital media available in sexual assault cases, and explain how to legally seize electronic evidence by utilizing warrants that include requests to not just seize, but examine any evidence obtained as a result of a search warrant.

EVAWI also offers a webinar, In Their Own Words: Practical Tools and Techniques for Obtaining Post-Arrest Communications in Cases of Intimate Partner Violence and Human Trafficking. In this webinar, two expert investigators explain various types of post-arrest communications that can be obtained during a law enforcement investigation, and describe how they can be used in court, with real-world examples.

EVAWI created Model Policy Materials on Evidence Retention, Disposition, and/or Removal to provide law enforcement agencies guidance in this important and often overlooked area. The materials include sample language to adapt for an agency policy, as well as instructional commentary. They can therefore be used as an educational tool as well as a resource template to assist in the development of policies, protocols, and training materials.

The Kansas Sexual Assault Kit (SAKI) Initiative developed a policy on Sexual Assault Evidence Collection Kit Submission, Retention and Disposal. It includes guidelines for submitting sexual assault evidence kits to a forensic laboratory, retaining them within property rooms, the eventual disposal of evidence, and what to do with “anonymous kits.”

In 2014, the Urban Institute published a research brief, entitled VAWA 2005 and Sexual Assault Medical Forensic Exams: Kit Storage Issues. It is excerpted from the full report on this research, Sexual Assault Medical Forensic Exams and VAWA 2005: Payment Practices, Successes, and Directions for the Future. The research examines how states are meeting the goals of certain provisions in the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) regarding survivor access to sexual assault medical forensic examinations.

For more information, please see EVAWI’s Frequently Asked Questions on the topic of Evidence.

The Sexual Assault Kit Initiative (SAKI) offers an Evidence Tracking Toolkit, which includes documents, webinars, and other resources on a three key topics: (1) Conducting a Sexual Assault Kit Inventory, (2) Selecting and Implementing and Evidence Tracking System, and (3) Sample Evidence Tracking Systems. In addition to kit testing, the SAKI program allows grant funds to be used to establish and maintain an evidence tracking system, whether purchased or home-grown; this is outlined in a fact sheet by the US Department of Justice, Office of Justice Programs.

A Sexual Assault Kit (SAK) Task Force was established in Cuyahoga County, Ohio, to investigate and potentially prosecute cases associated with approximately 5,000 previously unsubmitted SAKs with DNA evidence. Research has since been conducted by the Cuyahoga County Sexual Assault Kit (SAK) Pilot Research Project to understand more about these unsubmitted SAKs and explore how this can inform criminal justice responses across the country regarding untested DNA evidence. Several research briefs summarize their findings, also covered in the EVAWI webinar, Unsubmitted Sexual Assault Kits: Changing What We Know About Rape.

Another webinar describes the Jacksonville (Florida) Sheriff’s Office effort to test their untested evidence through the Sexual Assault Kit Initiative (SAKI), Sex Crimes Cold Case: Learning From the Ghosts of Investigations Past

Finally, the Detroit Sexual Assault Kit (SAK) Action Research Project (ARP) was created to develop long-term strategies to decrease the volume of untested sexual assault kits in Detroit, Michigan. This multidisciplinary action research brought together researchers and practitioners from law enforcement, prosecution, forensic sciences, forensic nursing, and victim advocacy to address four primary goals. For more information and groundbreaking findings, please see the report entitled: Detroit Sexual Assault Kit (SAK) Action Research Project (ARP), Final Report.

For more information, please see EVAWI’s Frequently Asked Questions on the topic of Evidence.

EVAWI offers an Online Training Institute (OLTI) module entitled, False Reports: Moving Beyond the Issue to Successfully Investigate Sexual Assault. This module is designed to directly confront one of the most persistent challenges in the field, the belief that many or most sexual assault reports to law enforcement are false, by demonstrating that the “red flags” which commonly raise suspicion are often the realistic dynamics of sexual assault. Research on false reports is reviewed, and the implications are explored for effective criminal justice and community responses.

EVAWI also offers an OLTI module on Clearance Methods for Sexual Assault Cases, providing information for police officers, investigators, and supervisors on how to clear or otherwise close sexual assault cases, with a prominent focus on unfounding cases (either because they are false or baseless). These case determinations can be complicated, yet many law enforcement personnel are provided little or no guidance in how to make them appropriately. This module walks through the various ways in which a sexual assault case can be cleared or otherwise closed, and how some are not really closed at all but simply suspended or inactivated.

One of the most important challenges for law enforcement training in sexual assault investigation is the idea that many – or even most – reports are false. An EVAWI webinar, False Reports of Sexual Assault: Moving Beyond the Issues, reviews the differences between a false report versus a baseless report, and inconsistent statements versus lying. The presenter also discusses how law enforcement can unintentionally create a “false report,” by creating an environment where victims recant or withdraw. This is contrasted with real case examples of false reports.

EVAWI also offers a training bulletin and webinar, both with the same title of “Raped, Then Jailed: Risks of Prosecution for Falsely Reporting Sexual Assault.” Both training resources describe a scenario where victims summon the courage to report a sexual assault, only to be disbelieved, mistreated, and later charged (often erroneously) with false reporting or associated crimes. Some have even been charged with a felony crime of evidence tampering, for obtaining a medical forensic examination. Discussion focuses on how these scenarios unfold, highlighting factors that distinguish an interview conducted with a victim vs. suspect in a criminal investigation, and document how this can result in a coerced recantation or false confession. The conclusion addresses how these injustices can be prevented.

For more information, please see EVAWI’s Frequently Asked Questions on the topic of False Reports.

In their article entitled, False Allegations, Case Unfounding, and Victim Recantations in the Context of Sexual Assaultthe Sexual Assault Task Force of the Oregon Attorney General’s Office attempts to clarify and distinguish terms that are often misused, such as: victim recantation, false allegations, and unfounding, to ensure that victims receive consistent, professional and knowledgeable responses.

The Kansas Sexual Assault Kit (SAKI) Initiative developed guidance on ‘Unfounded’ Case Coding to accompany their Model Policy on Investigating Sexual Assault. This guidance explains when sexual assault cases in Kansas should and should not be coded as unfounded.

The Sexual Assault Kit Initiative (SAKI) program created a resource brief entitled, Unfounded Sexual Assaults: Recommended Practices for Investigations and Clearance Reporting. It details recommendations for investigations and clearance reporting processes including conducting thorough investigations for all sexual assault cases and using accurate and consistent clearance designations. 

EVAWI offers an Online Training Institute (OLTI) module entitled, The Earthquake in Sexual Assault Response: Implementing VAWA Forensic Compliance. It is designed to increase understanding of the forensic compliance provisions in the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), which require that sexual assault victims be provided a medical forensic examination: (a) free of charge, and (b) regardless of whether they report to law enforcement or participate in the criminal justice process. This module also provides extensive resources and tools to assist local communities in their implementation efforts.

A related OLTI module is titled Opening Doors: Alternative Reporting Options for Sexual Assault Victims. This module begins by defining key concepts, including VAWA forensic compliance, and then explores policy and practice considerations for community implementation. Ultimately, victims who have more ways to access information and support, to receive physical and psychological care, and to preserve the viability of a criminal justice intervention, will have more opportunities to successfully participate in the criminal justice process if and when they choose to do.

EVAWI offers a webinar titled, Opening Doors: Alternative Reporting Options for Sexual Assault Victims that explores strategies to increase reporting options for sexual assault victims, grounded in a victim-centered and trauma-informed philosophy, encapsulated in the concepts of one step at a time and opening doors. After outlining key concepts, presenters examine policy and practice considerations for communities seeking to implement such reporting options. Ultimately, victims who have more ways to access information and support, to receive physical and psychological care, and to preserve the viability of a criminal justice intervention, will have more opportunities to successfully participate in the criminal justice process if and when they choose to.

EVAWI’s training bulletin, VAWA 2013 Requirements for Medical Forensic Exams: No Out-of-Pocket Costs and Public Notification, briefly reviews the forensic compliance provisions of the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) with specific emphasis on new issues raised in the 2013 reauthorization of VAWA. States and territories were required to certify compliance with VAWA 2013 by March 2016.

For communities seeking to evaluate their implementation of forensic compliance, one place to start is the self-assessment tool developed by EVAWI. Successfully completing this tool will require the participation of professionals from a range of disciplines involved in the criminal justice and community response to sexual assault: law enforcement, health care providers, victim advocates, prosecutors, crime lab personnel, victim-witness assistance professionals, and others. The tool is posted in Word, so it can be easily utilized by community professionals.

EVAWI has also developed a sample press release, to announce the availability of medical forensic exams for sexual assault victims without first talking with law enforcement. As with many of our other resources, we offer two versions: one for states with medical mandating reporting for sexual assault of competent adults – and one for states without such a mandated reporting requirement.

For more information, please see EVAWI’s Frequently Asked Questions on the topic of Forensic Compliance.

For communities seeking to evaluate their implementation of forensic compliance, one place to start is the self-assessment tool developed by EVAWI. Completing this tool will require participation of professionals from a range of disciplines involved in the criminal justice and community response to sexual assault: law enforcement, health care providers, victim advocates, prosecutors, crime lab personnel, victim-witness assistance professionals, and others. The tool is posted in Word, so it can be easily utilized by community professionals.

For an example of a statewide evaluation, see Forensic Compliance in Colorado: An Examination of System Response to Sexual Assault. This report was produced collaboratively by the Colorado Coalition Against Sexual Assault (CCASA) and the Colorado Division of Criminal Justice. Released in 2013, findings are based on an analysis of 151 “medical reporting cases” (cases where a medical forensic exam was conducted without law enforcement involvement) and survey responses from 239 multidisciplinary professionals. Findings clearly demonstrated progress in the statewide implementation of forensic compliance, but also some gaps.

A second statewide evaluation was published in 2011, entitled Non-Report Sexual Assault Evidence Program: Forging New Victim-Centered Practices in Texas. To produce this report, researchers in the University of Texas School of Social Work conducted hundreds of in-depth interviews and web-based surveys with Sexual Assault Nurse Examiners (SANEs), medical personnel, rape crisis center advocates, law enforcement officers, prosecutors, and state agency personnel. Results suggest that the “non-report program” has been successful, yet challenges remain.

In an effort to identify strengths and opportunities within their multidisciplinary response to sexual assault, practitioners in South Carolina developed a survey for health care providers across the state. The survey includes a focus on forensic compliance implementation questions. Results are intended to enhance the coordination of care, evidence collection, law enforcement investigations, judiciary outcomes, and victim assistance in South Carolina.

The Urban Institute published a study in 2014, entitled Sexual Assault Medical Forensic Exams and VAWA 2005: Payment Practices, Successes, and Directions for the Future. The purpose was to examine how states were meeting the goals of VAWA provisions regarding medical forensic examinations. Four research briefs were also produced:

EVAWI offers responses to several Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about the forensic compliance provisions of the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA).

The US Department of Justice, Office of Violence Against Women compiled a list of Frequently Asked Questions on STOP Formula Grants, including issues pertaining to the forensic compliance provisions of the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA). These issues are primarily addressed on pages 1-25. The document was updated in February 2014, so it pertains to the 2013 reauthorization of VAWA (VAWA 2013).

Additional FAQ documents have been developed within several states. For example, the Sexual Violence Justice Institute (SVJI) at the Minnesota Coalition Against Sexual Assault (MNCASA) offers a special section of their website on medical forensic compliance, with Frequently Asked Questions pertaining to how this issue is addressed in Minnesota. 

The California Office of Emergency Services (formerly Cal EMA) also published an Informational Bulletin to address several Frequently Asked Questions related to the California law addressing forensic compliance implementation (SB 534).

Similarly, a Memorandum of Law was prepared by the Sexual Assault Legal Institute within the Maryland Coalition Against Sexual Assault (MCASA), to address Frequently Asked Questions regarding VAWA forensic compliance.

Finally, the Virginia Sexual Assault and Domestic Violence Action Alliance and the Virginia Chapter of the International Association of Forensic Nurses (IAFN) produced Virginia’s Healthcare Response to Sexual Assault: Guidelines for the Acute Care of Adult and Post-Pubertal Adolescent Sexual Assault Patients. Among other topics, the document addresses Frequently Asked Questions regarding authorization and payment for sexual assault medical forensic examinations, and also evidence kits, which are known as Physical Evidence Recovery Kits (PERKs) in Virginia. These issues intersect with the implementation of forensic compliance in complex ways.

The Sexual Violence Justice Institute (SVJI) at the Minnesota Coalition Against Sexual Assault (MNCASA) published the Minnesota Model Policies for Forensic Compliance (2011) which identifies ten decision points to guide local policy development. They also created an assessment survey to identify practice around the state, a Forensic Compliance Quiz for professionals, and a special section of their website on medical forensic compliance with additional tools and resources.

A statewide work group was convened by the Governor’s Office of Crime Control and Prevention (COCCP) in close partnership with the Maryland Coalition Against Sexual Assault (MCASA), to develop the Maryland Forensic Compliance Guidelines. These guidelines are a suggested framework for a sexual assault response protocol that is compliant with the 2005 reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA).

New Hampshire created procedures for anonymous (and non-investigative) reporting which offer one example of how to meet VAWA forensic compliance provisions. These procedures are outlined in statewide protocols for medical forensic examinations and Sexual Assault Resource Teams (SARTs). In New Hampshire, anonymous reporting is available to patients 18 years or older who have a medical forensic exam (and do not have certain types of injuries). A unique serial number is assigned to the evidence, in place of the victim’s name. The evidence is then stored by law enforcement agency with jurisdiction; the recommended period in the protocol is the statute of limitations or 20 years. No investigation or testing is conducted with the evidence, unless the victim contacts the law enforcement agency to initiate participation in the investigative process.

EVAWI offers Explore Your Options, where survivors and their support people can gather detailed information about health care, victim advocates, medical forensic exams, and reporting to law enforcement. This includes notification that survivors can obtain a medical forensic examination free of charge, and regardless of whether they participate in the criminal justice process – consistent with the forensic compliance provisions of the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA).

EVAWI has also developed a sample press release, to announce the availability of medical forensic exams for sexual assault victims without first talking with law enforcement. As with many of our other resources, we offer two versions: one for states with medical mandating reporting for sexual assault of competent adults – and one for states without such a mandated reporting requirement.

Colorado created a brochure and website to provide information for survivors and support people on the three options for reporting sexual assault to law enforcement: Law Enforcement Report, Medical Report, and Anonymous Report. Consistent with VAWA forensic compliance, a Medical Report allow victims to have evidence collected from a medical forensic exam provided to law enforcement with their name and contact information. They can then decide whether this evidence will be submitted to the laboratory for testing. The term Anonymous Report is used when the victim chooses to have evidence from an exam provided to law enforcement without their name or contact information. This evidence will not be submitted to the laboratory for testing.

New Hampshire created an informational brochure for sexual assault survivors on their options and rights, including What Happens at the Hospital, What Can the Crisis Center Offer, What Happens if You Report to Law Enforcement, What Does the Criminal Justice Process Look Like, and What if You Report on Campus. In the section on medical forensic examinations, the brochure notes that “you may opt to have evidence collected, and to remain anonymous to law enforcement” (consistent with VAWA forensic compliance). The brochure also covers Safety Planning, Crime Victims’ Rights, and Tips for Family and Friends, then concludes with a list of resources by county and information about the Victims’ Compensation program in New Hampshire.

The San Francisco Police Department offers an example of public outreach designed to educate victims of their right to a medical forensic examination regardless of their decision about participating in the criminal justice process. On their website, they provide answers to a number of Frequently Asked Questions about Sexual Assault.

In Ohio, the statewide Sexual Assault Forensic Examination Program ensures that medical forensic exams are available to all victims of sexual assault, regardless of whether they are able to pay and whether they decide to report to law enforcement (consistent with VAWA forensic compliance provisions). The program pays for the cost of a medical forensic exam and the antibiotic prophylaxis to prevent sexually transmitted infections. The program reimburses medical facilities directly in the hopes of reducing the burden of dealing with billing issues for survivors of sexual assault.

One example of a rather comprehensive law addressing payment for sexual assault medical forensic exams (SAFEs) is found in Connecticut. While many specific aspects of forensic compliance are covered in the statute, it also references Technical Guidelines that provide more detailed information to guide the process of implementation. The law also explicitly states that these guidelines will be updated “from time to time” and that they “will be incorporated in regulations adopted in accordance with” the statute. This approach reflects an attempt to balance general guidance provided in state statute – with more detailed information provided in the technical guidelines that can be used to direct practical implementation.

Another example of a rather comprehensive law addressing forensic compliance is Illinois. The statute provides detailed information regarding a wide range of issues, yet is clear and concise. For example, the procedure for payment is outlined in a straightforward way to make it easier for practitioners to follow.

A third example is Maine’s law, which enacts the recommendations of a commission specifically tasked with designing a process for sexual assault medical forensic exams. Key provisions outline the payment process and protections for victim privacy, as well as evidence collection and storage procedures when the victim has and has not yet decided to participate in the criminal justice process.

The Non-Report Sexual Assault Forensic Evidence (NRSAFE) Program was created by HB 2626 in 2009. It is described on the website for the Texas Department of Public Safety, which stores the evidence for victims who have an exam but have not yet decided to participate in the criminal justice process. The evidence is stored for a period of two years, and then destroyed. The website also provides a number of instructional documents and forms, which are provided on the Non-Reported Sexual Assault Evidence Program page of the agency’s website. A more recent addition to the Texas law (HB 2966) enhances confidentiality protections for victims.

Although not law, Virginia has an Executive Order (92) directing the state crime laboratory to accept and store physical evidence that is collected from health care providers in cases of sexual assault, for victims who have not yet decided to participate in the criminal justice system. The state crime laboratory has also developed instructions and consent form for evidence storage in these cases.

EVAWI offers a 2-part webinar series, entitled “Reducing Gender Bias in Sexual Assault Response and Investigation.” In Part 1, the presenters introduce the concept of implicit bias, and address key questions about how this can influence sexual assault dynamics and responses. For example, they discuss the intersection of gender bias and victim selection. In Part 2, exploration continues with how gender bias affects victim blame, recantation, and the designation of false reports. Finally, recommendations are offered for reducing the effect of gender bias in these cases.

In another EVAWI webinar, How Do I Know You’re Not Lying? Gender Bias and Sexual Assault Response, the presenters introduce the concept of implicit bias, and address key questions about how gender bias can disadvantage (or advantage) either the victim or suspect in a sexual assault case. The presenters also describe the critical role gender bias plays in the designation of false reports in cases of sexual assault and will consider the intersection of gender bias and victim recantations.

EVAWI offers a 4-part training bulletin series on Gender Bias in Sexual Assault Response and Investigation. It explores the phenomenon of gender bias, both explicit (conscious) and implicit (unconscious), and the resulting stereotypes and attitudes that can influence the professional response to, and investigation of, sexual assault. For example, discussion addresses the intersection of gender bias and victim selection at the time of the sexual assault, victim blame after the assault, victim recantations, and the designation of false reports. Finally, the series concludes with recommendations for reducing the effect of gender bias in these cases.

Start by Believing to Improve Response to Sexual Assault and Prevent Gender Bias delves into questions that have been raised with the philosophy of Start by Believing, and other victim-centered and trauma-informed approaches. In particular, he addresses one specific manner of attack: Defense cross-examination aimed at exposing the law enforcement investigation of a sexual assault as biased.

In 2015, the US Department of Justice published guidance on Identifying and Preventing Gender Bias in Law Enforcement Response to Sexual Assault and Domestic Violence. The purpose of this guidance is to examine how gender bias can undermine law enforcement agency responses to sexual assault and domestic violence, and provide a set of basic principles that – if integrated into their policies, practice, and training – will help ensure that agencies’ efforts to keep victims safe and hold offenders accountable are not undermined, either intentionally or unintentionally, by gender bias.

The International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP) also published a resource entitled, Enhancing Community Trust: Proactive Approaches to Domestic and Sexual Violence. It includes an agency self-assessment, community assessment, sample outreach letter, action planning guide, and additional resources to address law enforcement responses to gender-based violence. The resource is designed to assist agencies in comprehensively reviewing and evaluating their current policies and practices related to domestic violence, sexual violence, stalking, and strangulation.

EVAWI offers a webinar entitled, Immigration Financial Support – Using the I-864 to Transition to Self Sufficiency to help law enforcement, advocates, and other professionals identify victims who might be able to benefit from the Form I-864. Discussion centers on questions that can be added to an intake procedure to screen for potential eligibility, and assessment of the support to which an individual might be eligible. Also covered are steps that may be taken to enforce the support obligation.

EVAWI also published a document authored by the National Immigrant Women’s Advocacy Project (NIWAP), entitled Improving Crime Fighting Outcomes in Cases of Immigrant Victims: The Role of Continued Presence and U and T Visas as Tools for Law Enforcement. It provides information and describes the benefits of three types of federal immigration protections on improving victim, officer, and community safety: U and T Visas and Continued Presence (CP).

EVAWI offers an Online Training Institute (OLTI) module entitled, Effective Victim Interviewing: Helping Victims Retrieve and Disclose Memories of Sexual Assault. This module offers a brief overview of the scientific research on stress, trauma, and memory, as well as the unique sociocultural dynamics of sexual assault. This information is then applied to the practical tasks involved in the initial response to a sexual assault report, follow-up interviews, and documentation. It also addresses the impact of interviews on investigators themselves, and offers ways for law enforcement agencies to support investigators and high-quality sexual assault investigations.

For victims with disabilities, detailed guidance on interviewing appears in Successfully Investigating Sexual Assault Against Victims with Disabilities.

A 2-part webinar series on the “Neurobiology of Sexual Assault” explains how fear and trauma can affect brain functioning during sexual assault, and alter the encoding and storage of memories in ways that are commonly misunderstood. Part 1 discusses experience and behavior, and Part 2 focuses on experience and memory.

Domestic and Sexual Violence: Trauma Informed Victim Contact and Interviewing focuses on best practices for trauma-informed interviewing of victims, to better retrieve memories of incidents that can be used by law enforcement investigators, prosecutors, and civil attorneys.

Effective Victim Interviewing offers valuable guidance for law enforcement professionals on how to successfully interview victims of sexual assault with an eye toward criminal prosecution where the facts and evidence warrant.

EVAWI also offers a webinar, Successfully Investigating Sexual Assault Against People with Disabilities. It is primarily focused on law enforcement, but it is also intended to be helpful for others whose work intersects with the criminal justice system, to ensure that people with disabilities who are victimized have equal access to information, programs, and services – and that they are treated with fairness, compassion, and respect. Everyone involved in the criminal justice and community response system plays a critical role in providing that access and fair treatment.

In Using Virtual Meeting Software for Interviews with Victims, several investigators and a forensic nurse describe their use of virtual software to interview victims, witnesses, and suspects, with victim advocates included in the process. Presenters offer helpful tips and address some pitfalls to avoid.

A webinar series examines “Empathy Based Suspect Interviewing.” In Part 1 and Part 2, presenters discuss how empathy can enhance a sexual violence suspect’s willingness to talk in an interview, resulting in enhanced potential for confession and increased opportunity for corroboration and leads.

The Forensic Experiential Trauma Interview (FETI) draws on best practices from child forensic interviews, critical incident stress management, and neuroscience – combined into a three-pronged approach designed to unlock the trauma experience during a law enforcement interview. This webinar offers an introduction to the FETI approach: Forensic Experiential Trauma Interview: A Trauma Informed Experience.

Sexual assault victims have long faced unwarranted skepticism from loved ones, as well as responding professionals. In Interviews with Victims vs. Suspects: Start by Believing and the Question of Bias, examples of this historical bias are explored, along with measures that have been taken to help ameliorate it. In particular, we focus on the Start by Believing philosophy and examine its relevance for victim and suspect interviews.

When to Conduct an Exam or Interview was written to respond to the question of whether victims should be allowed to sleep before conducting a medical forensic examination or detailed law enforcement interview. Several concrete suggestions are offered to help meet the needs of victims when they are intoxicated and/or want to sleep.

Recording Victim Interviews explores the critical decision of whether law enforcement investigators should tape their victim interviews (either audio or video). This can be a controversial issue in some communities, so advantages and disadvantages are explored, to inform policy implementation.

Sworn Statements answers another question that is commonly asked by law enforcement investigators: Do I need to get a sworn statement from the victim at the conclusion of an interview? This training bulletin concludes that a sworn statement is not needed from victims or witnesses, because there is no clear advantage yet several critical disadvantages.

Should Sexual Assault Victims be Interviewed by Female Detectives? Some agencies have assigned female officers to sex crimes cases, assuming that victims will feel more secure and that women officers will “naturally” or intuitively respond better to these cases. But a better approach is to invest in quality training for all officers regardless of gender, and to set high expectations for anyone who interviews sexual assault victims

Suggested Guidelines on Language for Sexual Assault can help improve both verbal and written communications by professionals in the field. The goal is to maximize accuracy and clarity – and to avoid common tendencies that can create confusion, perpetuate misinformation, and contribute to a climate of doubt and victim blame.

When preparing to conduct a detailed interview with a sexual assault victim, law enforcement should make preparations for video recording (or at least audio recording) that interview. Interviews with child victims have been taped for years, with obvious benefits; many of the same advantages exist for adult and adolescent victims. These benefits and procedures are detailed in the Online Training Institute (OLTI) module Effective Victim Interviewing: Helping Victims Retrieve and Disclose Memories of Sexual Assault, as well as the training bulletin on Recording Victim Interviews.

For more information, please see EVAWI’s Frequently Asked Questions on the topic of Interviewing.

EVAWI offers a training bulletin answering a question that is commonly asked by law enforcement investigators: Do I need to get a sworn statement from the victim at the conclusion of an interview? This training bulletin on Sworn Statements concludes that they are not needed for any victim or witness, because there is no clear advantage yet several critical disadvantages.

For more information, please see EVAWI’s Frequently Asked Questions on the topic of Interviewing.

EVAWI offers several training bulletins on trauma and the implications for interviewing victims of sexual assault and other gender-based crimes:

Understanding the Neurobiology of Trauma and Implications for Victim Interviewing provides basic information about the brain and explores the impact of trauma on behavior and memory. It then highlights the implications for law enforcement interviews conducted with victims of sexual assault and other traumatic crimes.

Becoming Trauma-Informed: Learning and Appropriately Applying the Neurobiology of Trauma to Victim Interviews is designed to help agencies make improvements in their interviewing practices with victims of sexual assault, as well as victims and witnesses of other types of violence. Many of these same principles also apply to other types of investigative interviews, such as those conducted by prosecutors, civil attorneys, campus Title IX investigators, and others.

The 3-part training bulletin series, Important Things to Get Right About the “Neurobiology of Trauma explores central concepts in the “neurobiology of trauma,” as it is understood by people working with sexual assault victims. Understanding essential scientific findings and avoiding any misinterpretation or misapplication can help professionals work more effectively with survivors

Trauma-Informed Interviewing and the Criminal Sexual Assault Case: Where Investigative Technique Meets Evidentiary Value examines what the evidence produced from a trauma-informed interview of a sexual assault victim can (and cannot) accomplish within the US legal system, and how this evidence should (and should not) be used in a sexual assault investigation and prosecution.

Many modules in the Online Training Institute (OLTI) address the law enforcement response to sexual assault and sexual assault investigations:

Preliminary Investigation: Guidelines for First Responders is drawn directly from the Concepts and Issues Paper on Investigating Sexual Assault published by the International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP). Detailed guidance is provided for the preliminary response and law enforcement investigation of sexual assault.

Law and Investigative Strategy: What Kind of Sexual Assault is This? was created to help law enforcement professionals develop an investigative strategy to address common defense strategies, by reviewing the elements of various sexual assault crimes and exploring evidence that can potentially support each element.

Effective Victim Interviewing: Helping Victims Retrieve and Disclose Memories of Sexual Assault offers a brief overview of the scientific research on stress, trauma, and memory, then applies this to the practical tasks involved in the initial response to a sexual assault report, follow-up interviews, and documentation. It also addresses the impact of interviews on investigators themselves, and offers ways for law enforcement agencies to support investigators and high-quality sexual assault investigations.

Successfully Investigating Sexual Assault Against Victims with Disabilities provides guidance for first responders as well as investigators and even prosecutors. However, it is also intended to be helpful for others whose work intersects with the criminal justice system.

Opening Doors: Alternative Reporting Options for Sexual Assault Victims defines key concepts, then examines policy and practice considerations for communities seeking to implement such options. Ultimately, victims who have more ways to access information and support, to receive physical and psychological care, and to preserve the viability of a criminal justice intervention, will have more opportunities to successfully participate in the criminal justice process if and when they choose to do.

Forensic Examinations of Sexual Assault Victims and Suspects: Role of the Examination in Sex Crimes Investigations (Part 1: Types and Purposes of Evidence). The module explores the different types of evidence that may be gathered and how this evidence might be used to advance an investigation. Several detailed case studies are provided for participants to apply their knowledge in practical exercises.

Crime Scene Processing and Recovery of Physical Evidence from Sexual Assault Scenes provides guidance on the systematic process law enforcement investigators should employ in major criminal investigations.

Laboratory Analysis of Biological Evidence and the Role of DNA in Sexual Assault Investigations explores the complex role of DNA in a sexual assault investigation. The module also includes complex case examples illustrating many of the points and providing the opportunity to apply what is learned in a variety of real-world scenarios.

Untested Evidence and the Investigation of Cold Sexual Assault Cases provides concrete recommendations for policies and practice, for the creation of a Cold Case Unit, prioritizing testing, notifying victims, and supporting successful investigations.

Effective Report Writing: Using the Language of Non-Consensual Sex is designed to help investigators write a thorough, well-documented report to support successful prosecution of sexual assault where the facts and evidence warrant. While the module is written for law enforcement, many recommendations are equally helpful for other professionals on how to write and talk about sexual assault issues.

Clearance Methods for Sexual Assault Cases provides information for police officers, investigators, and supervisors on how to clear or otherwise close sexual assault cases. These case determinations can be complicated, yet many law enforcement personnel are provided little or no guidance in how to make them appropriately.

Opening Doors: Alternative Reporting Options for Sexual Assault Victims explores strategies to increase reporting options for sexual assault victims, grounded in a victim-centered and trauma-informed philosophy, encapsulated in the concepts of one step at a time and opening doors.

After the Interview – Now the Work Begins: Corroborating Evidence and Case Review offers guidance on identifying, collecting, and utilizing corroborating evidence in a sexual assault case.

In Digital Evidence: Successfully Identifying and Acquiring Electronic Evidence to Combat the CSI Effect, two expert investigators review types of digital media available in sexual assault cases, and explain how to legally seize electronic evidence with warrants that include a request to not just seize, but examine any evidence obtained as a result of a search warrant.

In Their Own Words: Practical Tools and Techniques for Obtaining Post-Arrest Communications in Cases of Intimate Partner Violence and Human Trafficking. Two expert investigators explain types of communications that can be obtained during a law enforcement investigation, and describe how they can be used in court, with real-world examples.

”Reading” Victims and Judging Credibility – Best Practices in Promoting Victim-Centered Investigations and Prosecutions. Training covers how to identify victim needs and judge credibility, develop areas of common ground necessary to build solid relationships, and enhance successful investigations and prosecutions, from the crime scene to the courtroom.

Effective Report Writing: Using the Language of Non-Consensual Sex is designed to help investigators write a thorough, well-documented report to support successful prosecution of sexual assault where the facts and evidence warrant. While the module is written for law enforcement, many recommendations are equally helpful for other professionals on how to write and talk about sexual assault issues.

A webinar series examines “Empathy Based Suspect Interviewing.” In Part 1 and Part 2, presenters discuss how empathy can enhance a sexual violence suspect’s willingness to talk in an interview, resulting in enhanced potential for confession and increased opportunity for corroboration and leads.

Finally, Public Trust: Confronting Law Enforcement Sexual Misconduct in the #MeToo Era uses an examination of case studies, after-action reviews, and the emerging national demand for increased accountability for all forms of sexual misconduct, the presenter encourages courageous conversations to inspire proactive leadership strategies to address and prevent law enforcement sexual misconduct.

EVAWI offers a training bulletin entitled, Responding to Victims Reporting from Another Jurisdiction. This document provides guidance for courtesy reports taken by law enforcement to document a sexual assault committed in another jurisdiction. While it is written primarily for law enforcement, the information it is also valuable for other responding professionals to be informed about the options that are available.

Another EVAWI training bulletin addresses a question that is commonly asked by law enforcement investigators: Do I need to get a sworn statement from the victim at the conclusion of an interview? This training bulletin on Sworn Statements concludes that they are not needed from any victim or witness, because there is no clear advantage yet several critical disadvantages.

EVAWI created a Model Policy Resource: Law Enforcement Sexual Misconduct Prevention and Accountability to help law enforcement agencies work collaboratively with agency personnel, community partners, and legal counsel to develop their own agency-specific policy to address sexual misconduct committed by sworn and civilian personnel. It is provided in Word, so it can be easily adapted by law enforcement agencies to create a new policy or build on an existing policy. EVAWI also offers a webinar introducing this resource titled, Law Enforcement Sexual Misconduct: Introducing a Model Policy Resource for Prevention and Accountability.

Finally, there are answers to a number of Frequently Asked Questions about law enforcement responses to sexual assault on EVAWI’s website.

When communities have a history of past negative interactions with law enforcement, this can dramatically affect survivors’ decisions to report their sexual assault or participate in an investigation. The Vera Institute offers guidance to help build trust and work with diverse communities, including Police Perspectives Guidebook Series: Building Trust in a Diverse Nation.

EVAWI offers a training bulletin on The Investigating Officer’s Direct Exam: Strategic and Tactical Considerations to Take Advantage of the IO’s Expertise. After providing a basic introduction to the role of a direct examination during a sexual assault trial, discussion focuses on how to best utilize testimony from the investigating officer, including offering the investigating officer’s testimony as an expert witness.

EVAWI offers a training bulletin on Impression Management for Investigating Officers, one of the most important witnesses in a sexual assault trial. Impression management can make or break the way an investigator is perceived by the jury, which will determine the weight they will assign to their testimony. By proactively strategizing both content and context, investigators and prosecutors can present the evidence in a sexual assault case in a fashion that is straightforward, easy to follow, and effective.

Trauma-Informed Interviewing and the Criminal Sexual Assault Case: Where Investigative Technique Meets Evidentiary Value examines what the evidence produced from a trauma-informed interview of a sexual assault victim can (and cannot) accomplish within the US legal system, and how this evidence should (and should not) be used in a sexual assault investigation and prosecution. This includes testimony given by investigators who conducted a trauma-informed interview.

The Vera Institute offers many resources for law enforcement as part of their Translating Justice Initiative, including a publication on Overcoming Language Barriers: Solutions for Law Enforcement and a guide with promising practices for law enforcement called, Bridging the Language Divide. It includes sample documents that can be adapted for local use, such as a General Order on Managing Communication Barriers, Standard Operating Procedures, Unit Activity Report for a Bilingual Unit, and Job Descriptions for Community Service Officers as well as Interpreters.

The International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP) published a Model Policy on Investigating Sexual Assaults with a corresponding Concepts and Issues Paper, as well as a Supplemental Reporting Form to support law enforcement in effectively documenting their sexual assault investigations. The IACP also offers Sexual Assault Response Policy and Training Content Guidelines for law enforcement agencies.

The Kansas Sexual Assault Kit Initiative (SAKI) also published a model policy and training guide on Investigating Sexual Assault, as well as a policy on Sexual Assault Evidence Collection Kit Submission, Retention, and Disposal. The goal was to ensure consistency in law enforcement responses from dispatch through investigation, and referral for prosecution. The group also developed helpful guidance that accompanies their Model Policy on Investigating Sexual Assault, to provide additional clarification on “unfounded” case coding. This document explicitly defines when cases should be coded as unfounded, and when they should not.

The Vera Institute offers a Toolkit to Help Law Enforcement Personnel Meet the Needs of Crime Victims with Disabilities as part of their Accessing Safety Initiative. The toolkit includes a palm card outlining four steps to ask about and provide accommodations, as well as sample questions to ask. It also includes a Quick Reference Guide with more detailed information on the four steps, to serve as a companion to the palm card, an Agency Readiness Guide to ensure agencies are prepared to provide accommodations, a tip sheet with examples of common accommodations, and a demonstration video to instruct law enforcement personnel on how to ask about accommodations.

EVAWI offers an Online Training Institute (OLTI) module and webinar on “Successfully Investigating Sexual Assault Against People with Disabilities.”

The National Academies of Science reviewed the existing research, concluding that the evidence for the validity of the polygraph was “scanty and scientifically weak.” The report was titled, The Polygraph and Lie Detection.

The National Sexual Violence Resource Center (NSVRC) incorporated this conclusion in their report entitled, The Use of Truth-Telling Devices in Sexual Assault Investigations. This report was written to support the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) provision requiring that truth-telling devices must not be used with sexual assault victims as a condition of charging or prosecution of an offense. Along with this report, the NSVRC offers a list of individual state laws regarding polygraph use.

AEquitas published a brief entitled Truth-Detection Devices and Victims of Sexual Violence: A Shortcut to Injustice. The document concludes that the use of such devices “should be limited as an inducement to obtain voluntary statements from suspects and should never be used with victims.”

Perhaps the clearest statement is offered by the International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP), in their document Sexual Assault Incident Reports – Investigative Strategies. Among their best practice recommendations, they state: “Do not polygraph victims.”

For more information, see the Frequently Asked Questions on EVAWI’s website.

When preparing to conduct a detailed interview with a sexual assault victim, law enforcement should make preparations for videorecording (or at least audio recording) that interview. Interviews with child victims have been taped for years, with obvious benefits; many of the same advantages exist for adult and adolescent victims. These benefits and procedures are detailed in the Online Training Institute (OLTI) module Effective Victim Interviewing: Helping Victims Retrieve and Disclose Memories of Sexual Assault, as well as the training bulletin on Recording Victim Interviews.

For more information, please see EVAWI’s Frequently Asked Questions on the topic of Interviewing.

When victims are asked if they want to press charges, and they say “no” or express reluctance, some law enforcement agencies have a policy or practice of presenting victims with a form (often referred to as a release waiver) to document the victim’s “request” to terminate or unfound the investigation. Some agencies erroneously believe this protects them from liability for failing to pursue an investigation. EVAWI cautions against this practice in the Online Training Institute (OLTI) module, Effective Victim Interviewing: Helping Victims Retrieve and Disclose Memories of Sexual Assault.

The International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP) also released a resolution stating that victims should not be asked to sign non-investigation or non-prosecution waivers, because they may deter reporting future crimes or seeking services: Encouraging the Discontinuation of Victim Forms to Waive Investigations in the United States.

For more information, please see EVAWI’s Frequently Asked Questions on the topic of Interviewing.

EVAWI created a Model Policy Resource: Law Enforcement Sexual Misconduct Prevention and Accountability to help law enforcement agencies work collaboratively with agency personnel, community partners, and legal counsel to develop their own agency-specific policy to address sexual misconduct committed by sworn and civilian personnel. It is provided in Word, so it can be easily adapted by law enforcement agencies to create a new policy or build on an existing policy. EVAWI also offers a webinar introducing this resource titled, Law Enforcement Sexual Misconduct: Introducing a Model Policy Resource for Prevention and Accountability.

Another EVAWI webinar addresses the issue of law enforcement sexual misconduct, entitled Public Trust: Confronting Law Enforcement Sexual Misconduct in the #MeToo Era. Using an examination of case studies, after-action reviews, and the emerging national demand for increased accountability for all forms of sexual misconduct, the presenter encourages courageous conversations to inspire proactive leadership strategies to address and prevent law enforcement sexual misconduct.

EVAWI offers a training bulletin answering a question that is commonly asked by law enforcement investigators: Do I need to get a sworn statement from the victim at the conclusion of an interview? This training bulletin on Sworn Statements concludes that they are not needed from any victim or witness, because there is no clear advantage yet several critical disadvantages.

For more information, please see EVAWI’s Frequently Asked Questions on the topic of Interviewing.

EVAWI offers a training bulletin and webinar on how to provide a successful training for law enforcement on the topic of sexual assault response and investigation. A number of resources are provided, including suggestions for identifying expert trainers in the field.

EVAWI offers a 2-part webinar series on “Building Your Trainer Toolbox.” In Part 1: Using and Citing Research, training focuses on how to use and cite research properly, to increase trainer credibility and avoid any potential fear of plagiarism. Guidance is also provided for identifying research sources from among EVAWI’s portfolio of training materials. In Part 2: Training Materials and Professional Tools, discussion turns to improving training materials (abstracts, learning objectives, and PowerPoint slides) and professional tools (such as a biographical sketch, resumé, and CV).

The International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP) released a resolution advising law enforcement agencies to integrate victim services in their day-to-day operations so crime victims have immediate access to professionals who understand the complexities of trauma and victim needs: The Importance of Law Enforcement-Based Victim Services in the United States.

EVAWI also offers a training bulletin entitled, Advocates and Law Enforcement: Oil and Water, which explores the tension sometimes experienced between these two professional disciplines. The training bulletin begins by offering a detailed description of the advocate’s role during the criminal justice process. It then goes on to address the common reluctance of law enforcement to involve advocates in this process, by exploring some causal factors and outlining strategies to resolve them.

For more information, please see EVAWI’s Frequently Asked Questions on the topic of Advocacy.

EVAWI offers a webinar on Medical Mandated Reporting for Sexual Assault, explaining issues of mandated reporting and exploring intersections with the forensic compliance provisions of the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA).

Also see EVAWI’s Frequently Asked Questions on the topic of Mandated Reporting.

Some states require medical personnel to report to law enforcement when a patient discloses sexual assault. A sample form with instructions for meeting this requirement is provided from the state of California:

RAINN offers a database to search the laws in all 50 states on a range of topics related to sexual assault, including the definitions and penalties for various sex crimes, the statute of limitations for particular sex crime, mandatory reporting laws, and others.

Additional information is available in the legal compilation prepared by the National District Attorneys’ Association (NDAA), entitled, Mandatory Reporting of Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault Statutes. A similar compilation was published by AEquitas, specifically focused on intimate partner violence, with the title Reporting Requirements for Competent Adult Victims of Domestic Violence.

Finally, please see EVAWI’s Frequently Asked Questions on the topic of Mandated Reporting.

EVAWI offers an Online Training Institute (OLTI) module on Forensic Examinations of Sexual Assault Victims and Suspects: Role of the Examination in Sex Crimes Investigations (Part 1: Types and Purposes of Evidence). The module explores the different types of evidence that may be gathered and how this evidence might be used to advance a sexual assault investigation. Several detailed case studies are provided for participants to apply their knowledge in practical exercises.

A 2-part webinar series offers guidance on “Suspect Forensic Exams.” Part 1: Forensic Examinations and Evidence Collection begins by making the case for the importance of suspect exams, then explores reasons for why they often are not done, and provides concrete recommendations for overcoming these barriers and using suspect exams effectively. In Part 2: Improving Criminal Sexual Assault Investigations with Suspect Forensic Examinations, the presenters provide step-by-step instructions for conducting a suspect exam with evidence collected by a forensic nurse. The timing of the suspect examination and maintaining the chain of custody is also discussed.

In a webinar entitled, Use of Alternate Light Source/Negative Invert Filters to Improve Visibility of Injuries Under the Skin, presenters discuss alternate light source (ALS) technology, negative invert filter software, and digital photo documentation for patients who have been strangled or physically abused. Without ALS, many of these samples might remain undetected.

In another EVAWI webinar, Using Telehealth to Increase the Quality of Forensic-Medical Evidence Collection and Deliver Trauma-Informed Care, presenters discuss the use of telehealth technology to expand forensic nursing to hospitals and clinics in rural, tribal, and other underserved areas.

Affordable, safe, and reliable transportation is key to ensuring victim access to medical forensic exams. EVAWI offers a webinar entitled, Thinking Outside the “Kit” – Transportation Options for Improving Access to Sexual Assault Medical Forensic Exams, which explores various transportation options to improve access to sexual assault medical forensic exams.

Many community protocols specify a certain timeline for how many hours after a sexual assault incident a medical forensic examination will be conducted. This issue is addressed in EVAWI’s publication, Time Limits for Conducting a Forensic Examination: Can Biological Evidence be Recovered 24, 36, 48, 72, 84 or 96 Hours Following a Sexual Assault? While 120 hours can be used as a general guideline for exam timelines, best practice is for each sexual assault to be evaluated on a case-by-case basis.

When to Conduct an Exam or Interview was written to respond to the question of whether victims should be allowed to sleep before conducting a medical forensic examination or detailed law enforcement interview. Several concrete suggestions are offered to help meet the needs of victims when they are intoxicated and/or want to sleep.

Finally, EVAWI offers a training bulletin on Forensic Exams for the Sexual Assault Suspect which addresses this critically important source of evidence in a sexual assault investigation. Many law enforcement agencies have failed to establish policies and procedures for obtaining comprehensive forensic examinations of sexual assault suspects, despite the potential for recovering probative evidence from the suspect’s body and clothing.

Also see EVAWI’s Frequently Asked Questions on Medical Forensic Exams.

AEquitas offers a publication entitled, Absence of Anogenital Injury in the Adolescent Adult Female Sexual Assault Patient. Based on 43 research studies, it is clear that a lack of injury is common in sexual assault cases. However, there is a lack of research on anal penetration, which makes it difficult to determine how frequently this type of assault results in injury.

The International Association of Forensic Nurses (IAFN) offers an online library with forms that can be used as templates by community professionals seeking to create or adapt tools for their own medical forensic exams.

The issue of exam timelines is discussed in A National Protocol for Sexual Assault Medical Forensic Examinations (2013), published by the US Department of Justice, Office on Violence Against Women.

EVAWI also offers a training bulletin entitled, Time Limits for Conducting a Forensic Examination: Can Biological Evidence be Recovered 24, 36, 48, 72, 84 or 96 Hours Following a Sexual Assault?

Also see the publication by the US Department of Justice, National Institute of Justice (NIJ): Extending the Time to Collect DNA in Sexual Assault Cases.

For more information, please see EVAWI’s Frequently Asked Questions on the topic of Medical Forensic Exams.

 

The West Virginia Foundation for Rape Information and Services led efforts to develop a regional mobile SANE project in the state. This project allows the sharing of SANEs among 5 participating hospitals in a 5-county area; an on-call SANE goes to the hospital where the sexual assault patient presents.

For detailed information on the medical forensic examination for adult and adolescent victims, please see A National Protocol for Sexual Assault Medical Forensic Examinations (2013), published by the US Department of Justice, Office on Violence Against Women.

The International Association of Forensic Nurses (IAFN) offers a Sexual Assault Forensic Examination Technical Assistance (SAFEta) project, which provides many valuable resources on medical forensic exams and exam payment. One section of the website allows users to click on each state or territory, to find a detailed summary of the exam payment process, Crime Victim Compensation (CVC), and related information.

Many professionals ask about the exam payment laws in their own state or territory. Answers can be found in the AEquitas document, Summary of Laws and Guidelines with Charts: Payment of Sexual Assault Medical Forensic Examinations. Users can download the full 228-page report, or the 13-page Summary of Laws and Guidelines.

In 2003, the Oregon legislature created the Sexual Assault Victims Emergency Medical Response (SAVE) Fund, which covers the costs of a medical forensic exam and other related costs (medications to prevent STD’s, emergency contraception, pregnancy testing, and up to 5 counseling sessions), regardless of whether victims report the sexual assault to law enforcement or participate in the criminal justice process. It is funded with a combination of punitive damages and restitution levied against convicted offenders, as well as donations and federal matching funds.

North Carolina offers the Rape Victim Assistance Program (RVAP), which pays for the costs of a medical forensic examination. State law instructs medical providers who perform the exam to refrain from billing the victim or the victim’s personal insurance, Medicaid, Medicare, or any other collateral source for the examination. Instead, the law requires that service providers who conduct the exam bill the RVAP for the cost.

The Sexual Violence Justice Institute (SVJI) at the Minnesota Coalition Against Sexual Assault (MNCASA) developed a simple fact sheet on payment across state lines, with information about exam payment in Minnesota and a number of neighboring states. This tool can serve as a model for other organizations that want to create a similar resource.

Insurance billing is often used for medical forensic exams, as long as victims are not charged any out-of-pocket costs. Yet insurance billing can present complications for victims, including a potential loss of confidentiality. For more information, the US Department of Justice,  Office of Violence Against Women has compiled a list of Frequently Asked Questions on STOP Formula Grants (updated in February 2014).

The Urban Institute published a study in 2014, entitled Sexual Assault Medical Forensic Exams and VAWA 2005: Payment Practices, Successes, and Directions for the Future. The purpose was to examine how states were meeting the goals of VAWA provisions regarding medical forensic examinations. Four research briefs were also produced:

For more information, please see EVAWI’s Frequently Asked Questions on the topic of Medical Forensic Exams.

Oregon created a web page to provide information for survivors and their support people about the Sexual Assault Victims’ Emergency Medical Response (SAVE) Fund, which ensures that medical forensic examinations are available to every victim of sexual assault in the state within 7 days of the assault. The SAVE fund pays for the cost of the exam, medications to prevent STI’s, up to 5 days of HIV medication, emergency contraception, pregnancy testing, physician’s fees, and up to 5 counseling sessions.

EVAWI has compiled template MOU’s or SANE service agreements for hospitals that do not have their own SANE program but are interested in contracting with SANE nurses. The templates are drawn from a diverse range of programs, including free-standing facilities, community-based programs, and hospital-based programs. The templates are provided in Word, so they can be easily adapted for use in local communities. (They have been redacted to protect the identity of individuals and organizations).

Additional resources include the following:

The Maryland Coalition Against Sexual Assault (MCASA) published a State of the State Report on Sexual Assault Forensic Examiner Programs, based on the findings of a 2011 survey. It is an excellent example of a statewide assessment offering guidance for programs and policymakers.

New Hampshire offers a statewide protocol on the care of patients who have been sexually assaulted. The Protocol is continually revised in an effort to improve evidence collection outcomes for patients who have experienced sexual assault, and to maximize the continuity of care for patients who have experienced sexual assault.

EVAWI offers a webinar entitled The Empathetic Workplace: Five Steps to a Compassionate, Calm, and Confident Response to Trauma on the Job. The presentation provides participants a basic understanding of the prevalence of trauma and its effect on both the person in trauma and those interacting with him or her, then gives practical advice on how to support those in trauma while protecting oneself from compassion fatigue and not running afoul of legal obligations. 

Another EVAWI webinar is titled, Non-Profit Success: Strengthening and Sustaining Organizational Achievement. Discussion focuses on the fundamentals of non-profit management, including board governance, development, and collaborative organizational partnerships. Presenters also address the long-term visioning that can be achieved by creating a solid foundation and engaging in strategic planning.

Sexual assault crimes continue to be misunderstood by the average juror, prosecutor, and judge. In EVAWI’s webinar, Reduce Attrition Rates of Sexual Assault Through Proper Charging Decisions and Effective Jury Selection, the presenters dispel myths and misconceptions surrounding “real rape,” then focus on charging decisions and the art of jury selection for successful prosecutions of sexual assault offenders.

In ”Reading” Victims and Judging Credibility – Best Practices in Promoting Victim-Centered Investigations and Prosecutions, training covers how to identify victim needs and judge credibility to develop areas of common ground necessary to build solid relationships, and enhance successful investigations and prosecutions, from the crime scene to the courtroom.

EVAWI offers a training bulletin on The Investigating Officer’s Direct Exam: Strategic and Tactical Considerations to Take Advantage of the IO’s Expertise. After providing a basic introduction to the role of a direct examination during a sexual assault trial, discussion focuses on how to best utilize testimony from the investigating officer, including offering the investigating officer’s testimony as an expert witness.

EVAWI offers a training bulletin on Impression Management for Investigating Officers, one of the most important witnesses in a sexual assault trial. Impression management can make or break the way an investigator is perceived by the jury, which will determine the weight they will assign to their testimony. By proactively strategizing both content and context, investigators and prosecutors can present the evidence in a sexual assault case in a fashion that is straightforward, easy to follow, and effective.

Trauma-Informed Interviewing and the Criminal Sexual Assault Case: Where Investigative Technique Meets Evidentiary Value examines what the evidence produced from a trauma-informed interview of a sexual assault victim can (and cannot) accomplish within the US legal system, and how this evidence should (and should not) be used in a sexual assault investigation and prosecution.

Some question whether “evidence-based prosecution” (or “hostile prosecution”) should be employed in sexual assault cases. This strategy is frequently used in domestic violence cases where the victim has recanted; prosecution moves forward based on physical evidence and witnesses, without the cooperation or testimony of the victim. EVAWI offers a training bulletin to answer this question, titled, Evidence-Based Prosecution in Sexual Assault Cases. In short, the answer is “no.” The training bulletin explains why.

The National Crime Victim Law Institute (NCVLI) offers a comprehensive publication entitled, A Criminal Justice Guide: Legal Remedies for Adult Victims of Sexual Violence. NCVLI also hosts a Victim Law Library with documents on a wide variety of specific topics, such as crime victim rights, courtroom procedures, evidentiary issues, the confrontation clause, restitution, and others.

AEquitas published a Case Law Digest: Expert Testimony on Victim, providing guidance for prosecutors and others on the use of expert testimony in this area.

RTI International offers an online training course on How to be a Good Expert Witness. The course provides an overview of court rules and the role of an expert witness, as well as detailed guidance how to carry out that role properly. It also covers various tactics and strategies sometimes used by attorneys to discredit witnesses.

EVAWI also offers a training bulletin and webinar, both with the same title of “Raped, Then Jailed: Risks of Prosecution for Falsely Reporting Sexual Assault.” Both training resources describe a scenario where victims summon the courage to report a sexual assault, only to be disbelieved, mistreated, and later charged (often erroneously) with false reporting or associated crimes. Some have even been charged with a felony crime of evidence tampering, for obtaining a medical forensic examination. Discussion focuses on how these scenarios unfold, highlighting factors that distinguish an interview conducted with a victim vs. suspect in a criminal investigation, and document how this can result in a coerced recantation or false confession. The conclusion addresses how these injustices can be prevented.

RAINN offers a database to search the laws in all 50 states on a range of topics related to sexual assault, including the definitions and penalties for various sex crimes, the statute of limitations for particular sex crime, mandatory reporting laws, and others.

AEquitas published Rape and Sexual Assault Analyses and Laws in all 50 states, US Territories, US Military, and federal jurisdictions (as of April 2014).

The National District Attorneys’ Association (NDAA) published a legal compilation of rape shield statutes (as of March 2011).

EVAWI offers two modules in the Online Training Institute (OLTI) on Sexual Assault Response and Resource Teams (SARRTs). The two modules overlap, so most readers will probably choose one or the other (not both).

Sustaining a Coordinated Community Response: Sexual Assault Response and Resource Teams (SARRT) offers guidance on how to establish, expand, and sustain a local SARRT to improve the coordination of services for victims across disciplines and agencies in the community.

Sexual Assault Response and Resource Teams (SARRT): A Guide for Rural and Remote Communities covers much of the same content, with greater focus on overcoming the unique challenges faced by professionals who respond to sexual assault in rural and remote communities.

Reading Between the Lines: Case File Review for SARTs provides participants a better understanding of how case file review can be used as an evaluative measure and method of systems change work as well as gain practical skills and tools to implement case file review in their community.

The SART Toolkit offered by the US Department of Justice, Office for Victims of Crime (OVC) explains how to conduct case review, including a review of the purpose and the role of each SART member. The toolkit also discusses the importance of confidentiality, and provides a sample agreement form for team members, entitled: Confidentiality Rules and Agreements.

Another helpful resource is the Case Review Protocol, created by the SARRT in Baltimore, Maryland. The protocol also includes an audit checklist.

The Sexual Violence Justice Institute (SVJI) at the Minnesota Coalition Against Sexual Assault (MNCASA) also published a guide with the title, What Do Sexual Assault Cases Look Like in Our Community? The guide offers step-by-step guidance to lead SART Coordinators through the process of reviewing law enforcement case files, with the goal of identifying areas where a SART is achieving success in its response to victims, and areas where it can improve.

Finally, EVAWI offers a webinar on Reading Between the Lines: Case File Review for SARTs, to provide participants a better understanding of how case file review can be used as an evaluative measure and method of systems change work as well as gain practical skills and tools to implement case file review in their community.

The Sexual Violence Justice Institute (SVJI) at the Minnesota Coalition Against Sexual Assault (MNCASA) offers a resource entitled, Are We Making a Difference? Sexual Assault Response Teams Assessing System Change. It includes tools and templates to begin assessing the impact of a SART on community responses. The resource was created with multidisciplinary team leadership and members in mind, so it does not include every step and detail of each evaluation method. Rather it is intended to spark interest in thinking about ways some of the examples provided can be picked up by teams and modified, to shape an evaluation process that fits that team’s specific needs.

The Urban Institute offers an Evaluation Guidebook for Projects Funded by the STOP Formula Grants Under the Violence Against Women Act.

The National Institute of Justice (NIJ) published National Best Practices for Sexual Assault Kits: A Multidisciplinary Approach, a compilation of recommendations and online glossary of terms. The recommendations emphasize the use of collaborative, victim-centered, and multidisciplinary approaches to improve evidence collection and preservation, increase consistency and provide uniformity for the prioritization and transferal of evidence, enhance laboratory process efficiencies for DNA testing, and advance investigative practices and agency protocols for: evidence inventory, tracking and audits, and communication systems.

The New Jersey State Standards were developed by professionals from a variety of disciplines, to serve as a foundation for establishing county policies and procedures. The goal was for the standards to be easily adapted by SARRTS in any community.

The North Dakota Sexual Assault Evidence Collection Protocol offers a model for developing a community-wide protocol based on multidisciplinary collaboration, with particular focus on forensic evidence collection.

Now in its 4th edition, the protocol developed by the Sexual Assault Interagency Council in Denver, Colorado is routinely updated to remain up-to-date with changes in state laws, agency policies, and local resources.

Another model for a community-wide protocol can be found in San Diego County, where the Sexual Assault Response Team (SART) developed detailed Standards of Practice for law enforcement, health care, crisis care, victim advocacy, crime laboratories, prosecution, and the judiciary.

The National Sexual Violence Resource Center (NSVRC) offers a variety of resources to help communities assess their readiness for SART development, guide implementation, and enhance sustainability. Resources include a SART Readiness Assessment Tool, the 2009 SART Survey Report, and a SART Team Development Guide for Victim Service Providers. The NSVRC also offers a National Sexual Assault Response Team Toolkit.

The Oregon Attorney General’s Office Sexual Assault Task Force (SATF) offers a Sexual Assault Response Team (SART) Handbook. The California SART Manual is also available from the California Clinical Forensic Medical Training Center (CCFMTC).

The University of Texas at Austin created training videos to help police, prosecutors, and advocates respond to sexual assault. One 7-minute segment is on multidisciplinary coordination: Sexual Assault Response Collaboration.

Another training video was produced by professionals in Alachua County, Florida, explaining the role of a Sexual Assault Response Team (SART) and multidisciplinary participants, including victim advocates, forensic medical examiners, investigators, and prosecutors. Team members share strategies on how to respond in a supportive, trauma-informed manner.

There are several examples of victim satisfaction surveys that could be adapted for use in local communities. The first is from the San Diego County Sexual Assault Response Team, and it is designed for victims to evaluate the performance of various professionals (SART nurse, police officer/detective, and rape crisis advocate).

Another sample from the Coalition Against Sexual Assault in North Dakota is designed to evaluate patient satisfaction with health care providers, and the one from the Women’s Justice Center in Santa Rosa, California is for the police response to victims of sexual assault – it is available in both English and Spanish.

In an EVAWI webinar entitled, Adult Sex Offenders – What You Need to Know, the expert presenter gives an overview of this offender population, describes offender assessment, treatment and supervision, and covers special topics such as juveniles, females, and those who view sexually explicit media involving child sexual abuse imagery.

EVAWI offers two modules in the Online Training Institute (OLTI) on the general dynamics of sexual assault crimes and their impact on victims.

Dynamics of Sexual Assault: What Does Sexual Assault Really Look Like explores the dynamics of sexual assault by examining common misconceptions and stereotypes, and reviewing research on the prevalence and characteristics of sexual assault. These dynamics have profound implications for the law enforcement investigation, victim responses, and strategies for successful prosecution.

Victim Impact: How Victims Are Affected by Sexual Assault and How Law Enforcement Can Respond explains the impact of sexual assault on the physical, psychological, and emotional well-being of victims. Increased understanding of this impact can improve victim responses, but the effects also have critical implications for a successful law enforcement investigation and prosecution of sexual assault.

Adult Sex Offenders – What You Need to Know provides an overview of this offender population, describes offender assessment, treatment and supervision, and covers special topics such as juveniles, females, and those who view sexually explicit media involving child sexual abuse imagery.

EVAWI offers a training bulletin on Sexual Harassment and Sexual Assault: Understanding the Distinctions and Intersections. Civil sexual harassment and criminal sexual assault differ in many ways, including relief for the victim, consequences for both individual and organizational defendants, and the standards of proof, among other factors. While these issues are very complex, we try to provide a simple and straightforward summary, to clarify some of the key concepts and distinctions.

Improving Responses to Sexual Assault Disclosures: Both Informal and Formal Support Providers reviews the research literature on sexual assault disclosures and the responses survivors receive from both informal and formal support providers. It also examines public awareness campaigns designed to prevent sexual assault and improve responses to survivors. This includes outlining the rationale for EVAWI’s Start by Believing campaign and describing preliminary evidence for positive impact.

Sexual Violence on Campus: Reporting and Collaborative Response is very brief, primarily serving as a guide to other resources.

The University of Texas at Austin created training videos to help police, prosecutors, and advocates respond to sexual assault. A 10-minute segment explores the question of Sexual Assault and Consent.

EVAWI offers a training bulletin on Sexual Harassment and Sexual Assault: Understanding the Distinctions and Intersections. Civil sexual harassment and criminal sexual assault differ in many ways, including relief for the victim, consequences for both individual and organizational defendants, and the standards of proof, among other factors. While these issues are very complex, we try to provide a simple and straightforward summary, to clarify some of the key concepts and distinctions.

EVAWI created a Model Policy Resource: Law Enforcement Sexual Misconduct Prevention and Accountability to help law enforcement agencies work collaboratively with agency personnel, community partners, and legal counsel to develop their own agency-specific policy to address sexual misconduct committed by sworn and civilian personnel. It is provided in Word, so it can be easily adapted by law enforcement agencies to create a new policy or build on an existing policy. EVAWI also offers a webinar introducing this resource titled, Law Enforcement Sexual Misconduct: Introducing a Model Policy Resource for Prevention and Accountability.

Another EVAWI webinar addresses the issue of law enforcement sexual misconduct, entitled Public Trust: Confronting Law Enforcement Sexual Misconduct in the #MeToo Era. Using an examination of case studies, after-action reviews, and the emerging national demand for increased accountability for all forms of sexual misconduct, the presenter encourages courageous conversations to inspire proactive leadership strategies to address and prevent law enforcement sexual misconduct.

Stalking is often overlooked when police respond to sexual assault incidents. In an EVAWI webinar, Investigating Stalking Cases Within Sexual Assault Cases, two expert investigators cover the recognition and elements of stalking, focusing on ways to obtain evidence (some non-traditional) while investigating these crimes. They also discuss how to use an array of family and civil court documents and proceedings to enhance investigations.

Another EVAWI webinar addresses stalking as a prevalent, dangerous, and often misunderstood crime: A Survivor Speaks: Recognizing and Responding to Stalking. In this webinar, a survivor shares her experience of being stalked over the course of a decade, and her journey to find safety.

EVAWI offers training bulletins on Start by Believing, the global campaign designed to transform the way society responds to sexual assault victims.

Sexual assault victims have long faced unwarranted skepticism. In Interviews with Victims vs. Suspects: Start by Believing and the Question of Bias, specific examples of this historical bias are described, along with key measures that have been taken to help ameliorate it. In particular, discussion focuses on the Start by Believing philosophy and the implications for victim and suspect interviews. The goal is to inform criminal justice professionals and others about what this philosophy does – and does not – say about how to approach the investigation of sexual assault cases, including interviews with victims, suspects, and witnesses.

Improving Responses to Sexual Assault Disclosures: Both Informal and Formal Support Providers reviews the research literature on sexual assault disclosures and the responses survivors receive from both informal and formal support providers. It also examines public awareness campaigns designed to prevent sexual assault and improve responses to survivors. This includes outlining the rationale for EVAWI’s Start by Believing campaign and describing preliminary evidence for positive impact.

Start by Believing to Improve Response to Sexual Assault and Prevent Gender Bias delves into questions that have been raised with the philosophy of Start by Believing, and other victim-centered and trauma-informed approaches. In particular, the author addresses one specific manner of attack: Defense cross-examination aimed at exposing the law enforcement investigation of a sexual assault as biased.

Start by Believing: Participation of Criminal Justice Professionals addresses the question of whether participation of criminal justice professionals compromises the ability of police and prosecutors to remain objective, potentially opening them up to attacks by defense counsel and/or losing cases at trial. While such attacks are possible, this training bulletin provides arguments that can be used to explain the purpose of the campaign and defend the rationale for criminal justice participation.

Finally, EVAWI offers responses to Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) regarding the Start by Believing campaign on the program website.

EVAWI offers an Online Training Institute (OLTI) module on Successfully Investigating Sexual Assault Against Victims with Disabilities. It is written from a law enforcement perspective, providing information and guidance for first responders as well as investigators and even prosecutors. However, it is intended to be equally helpful for others whose work intersects with the criminal justice system, to ensure that people with disabilities who are victimized have equal access to information, programs, and services – and that they are treated with fairness, compassion, and respect.

EVAWI also offers a webinar, Successfully Investigating Sexual Assault Against People with Disabilities. This webinar is primarily focused on law enforcement, but is intended to be helpful for others whose work intersects with the criminal justice system, to ensure that people with disabilities who are victimized have equal access to information, programs, and services – and that they are treated with fairness, compassion, and respect. Everyone involved in the criminal justice and community response system plays a critical role in providing that access and fair treatment.

The National Sexual Violence Resource Center NSVRC published a guide on Responding to Survivors with Autism Spectrum Disorders: An Overview for Sexual Assault Advocates. Although the guide was written for advocates, other professionals can benefit from the information provided on the characteristics of autism spectrum disorders, communication techniques, connecting with caregivers, accommodations, and safety planning.

The Vera Institute of Justice published a report entitled, Forging New Collaborations: A Guide for Rape Crisis, Domestic Violence, and Disability Organizations. This report is based on work with over 40 collaborative teams across the nation who have received grants from the US Department of Justice, Office on Violence Against Women (OVW). All of these collaborative teams included both victim services and disability organizations, and the guide includes ten essential elements to building and sustaining these collaborations — as well as common challenges they face.

Detailed guidance for conducting forensic interviews with this population can be found in Victims with Disabilities: The Forensic Interview, a publication from the US Department of Justice, Office for Victims of Crime (OVC).

The Vera Institute offers a Toolkit to Help Law Enforcement Personnel Meet the Needs of Crime Victims with Disabilities as part of their Accessing Safety Initiative. The toolkit includes a palm card outlining four steps to ask about and provide accommodations, as well as sample questions to ask. It also includes a Quick Reference Guide with more detailed information on the four steps, to serve as a companion to the palm card, an Agency Readiness Guide to ensure agencies are prepared to provide accommodations, a tip sheet with examples of common accommodations, and a demonstration video for law enforcement personnel on how to ask about accommodations.

The Police Executive Research Forum (PERF) also offers Enhancing Success of Police-Based Diversion Programs for People with Mental Illness.

Finally, EVAWI offers an Online Training Institute (OLTI) module and webinar on “Successfully Investigating Sexual Assault Against People with Disabilities.”

The Vera Institute of Justice hosts a website specifically addressing the issue of violence against individuals with disabilities and Deaf individuals: End Abuse of People with Disabilities. It includes a wide variety of tools and training, including live and online training, a resource library, and an online assessment tool to help identify an organization’s strengths and barriers to effectively serving survivors with disabilities and Deaf survivors.

EVAWI offers an Online Training Institute (OLTI) module on Forensic Examinations of Sexual Assault Victims and Suspects: Role of the Examination in Sex Crimes Investigations (Part 1: Types and Purposes of Evidence). The module explores the different types of evidence that may be gathered and how this evidence might be used to advance a sexual assault investigation. Several detailed case studies are provided for participants to apply their knowledge in practical exercises.

A 2-part webinar series offers guidance on Suspect Forensic Exams. Part 1: Forensic Examinations and Evidence Collection begins by making the case for the importance of suspect exams, explores reasons for why they often are not done, and provides concrete recommendations for overcoming these barriers and using suspect exams effectively. In Part 2: Improving Criminal Sexual Assault Investigations with Suspect Forensic Examinations, the presenters provide step-by-step instructions for conducting a suspect exam with evidence collected by a forensic nurse. The timing of the suspect examination and maintaining the chain of custody is also discussed.

EVAWI also offers a training bulletin on Forensic Exams for the Sexual Assault Suspect which addresses this critically important source of evidence in a sexual assault investigation. Many law enforcement agencies have failed to establish policies and procedures for obtaining comprehensive forensic examinations of sexual assault suspects, despite the potential for recovering probative evidence from the suspect’s body and clothing.

EVAWI offers a training bulletin and webinar on how to provide a successful training for law enforcement on the topic of sexual assault response and investigation. Detailed guidance is provided, along with suggestions for identifying expert trainers in the field.

EVAWI also offers a 2-part webinar series on “Building Your Trainer Toolbox.” In Part 1: Using and Citing Research, training focuses on how to use and cite research properly, to increase trainer credibility and avoid any potential fear of plagiarism. In Part 2: Training Materials and Professional Tools, discussion turns to improving training materials (abstracts, learning objectives, and PowerPoint slides) and professional tools (such as a biographical sketch, resumé, and CV). 

EVAWI offers several training bulletins on trauma, and the implications for interviewing victims of sexual assault and other gender-based crimes:

Understanding the Neurobiology of Trauma and Implications for Victim Interviewing provides basic information about the brain and explores the impact of trauma on behavior and memory. It then highlights the implications for law enforcement interviews conducted with victims of sexual assault and other traumatic crimes.

Becoming Trauma-Informed: Learning and Appropriately Applying the Neurobiology of Trauma to Victim Interviews is designed to help agencies make improvements in their interviewing practices with victims of sexual assault, as well as victims and witnesses of other types of violence. Many of these same principles also apply to other types of investigative interviews, such as those conducted by prosecutors, civil attorneys, campus Title IX investigators, and others.

The 3-part training bulletin series, Important Things to Get Right About the “Neurobiology of Trauma explores central concepts in the “neurobiology of trauma,” as it is understood by people working with sexual assault victims. Understanding essential scientific findings and avoiding any misinterpretation or misapplication can help professionals work more effectively with survivors.

Trauma-Informed Interviewing and the Criminal Sexual Assault Case: Where Investigative Technique Meets Evidentiary Value examines what the evidence produced from a trauma-informed interview of a sexual assault victim can (and cannot) accomplish within the US legal system, and how this evidence should (and should not) be used in a sexual assault investigation and prosecution.

A 2-part webinar series on the “Neurobiology of Sexual Assault” explains how fear and trauma can affect brain functioning during sexual assault, and alter the encoding and storage of memories in ways that are commonly misunderstood. Part 1 discusses experience and behavior, and Part 2 focuses on experience and memory.

Domestic and Sexual Violence: Trauma Informed Victim Contact and Interviewing focuses on best practices for trauma-informed interviewing of victims, to better retrieve memories of incidents that can be used by law enforcement investigators, prosecutors, and civil attorneys.

The Forensic Experiential Trauma Interview (FETI) draws on best practices from child forensic interviews, critical incident stress management, and neuroscience – combined into a three-pronged approach designed to unlock the trauma experience during a law enforcement interview. This webinar offers an introduction to the FETI approach: Forensic Experiential Trauma Interview: A Trauma Informed Experience.

With a basic scientific understanding of how trauma affects the brain, law enforcement agencies are adapting their perspectives on sexual assault victims’ behaviors and memories. How Law Enforcement Leaders can Build a Trauma Informed Response Culture at Their Agency describes these progressive initiatives to improve sexual assault interviews and investigations.

Finally, EVAWI offers a webinar entitled The Empathetic Workplace: Five Steps to a Compassionate, Calm, and Confident Response to Trauma on the Job. The presentation provides participants a basic understanding of the prevalence of trauma and its effect on both the person in trauma and those interacting with him or her, then gives practical advice on how to support those in trauma while protecting oneself from compassion fatigue and not running afoul of legal obligations.

The University of Texas at Austin created a series of training videos to help police, prosecutors, and advocates respond to sexual assault. The first is a 13-minute segment on Neurobiology of Trauma in Sexual Assault Cases.