Domestic and Sexual Violence: Trauma Informed Victim Contact and Interviewing

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75 Minutes

Originally Aired
April 6, 2021

Neva Fernandez
Neva Fernandez, MA
Victim Service Manager
State of Texas, District Attorney’s Office, Travis County

You’ve learned about trauma and its affects, now what? How do you translate that knowledge into outcomes for victims, achieve justice and be trauma-informed, and work with victims who need help but refuse to cooperate with law enforcement? How do you get victims to share their stories so the legal system can begin getting them justice – whether through a criminal conviction or a protective order? In the crime of domestic violence and sexual assault, the victim is often also the only “witness” to the crime. This carries with its inherent problems of recall and testimony as memories are stored differently when someone is under extreme stress.

Prosecutors need to know what happened to pursue a criminal case and civil attorneys must be able to articulate incidences of violence to get protective orders. However, victims of domestic violence and sexual assault are often unable to tell their story in a clear timeline and with the kind of consistency that the law requires. Victims who cannot tell their story have a significant barrier to getting help through the legal system. This workshop will focus on best practices for trauma-informed interviewing of victims to retrieve memories of incidences of violence that can be used by law enforcement, prosecutors and civil attorneys in getting victims justice. Topics will include a brief overview of trauma and its relationship to memory storage and recall, examples from actual cases where trauma-informed interviewing produced concrete information that was used in court, information on interacting with victims who are resistant to prosecuting the batterer, creating a timeline and most importantly how to ask questions so victims can retrieve the answers.


As a result of this webinar, participants will be better able to:

  • Describe the challenges with memory storage and recall of traumatic events.
  • Summarize the value that trauma-informed interviewing affords to both victim and law enforcement.
  • Facilitate a trauma-informed interview that produces high value information.
  • Recognize that a non-cooperative victim is in the first stages of a trauma-informed interview that may be conducted over a longer period of time. 


EVAWI is approved by the California Board of Registered Nursing to provide Continuing Education contact hours for nurses (Provider #15641). 

Registered Nurses may purchase 1.25 contact hours after completing this webinar.


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