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NCJRS Abstract

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NCJ Number: 192839 Find in a Library
Title: Policing and Sexual Assault: Strategies for Successful Victim Interviews (From Policing and Victims, P 57-73, 2002, Laura J. Moriarty, ed., -- See NCJ-192835)
Author(s): Tracy Woodard Meyers
Date Published: 2002
Page Count: 17
Sponsoring Agency: Prentice Hall Publishing
Upper Saddle River, NJ 07458
Sale Source: Prentice Hall Publishing
Criminal Justice and Police Training
1 Lake Street
Upper Saddle River, NJ 07458
United States of America
Type: Report (Study/Research)
Format: Book (Softbound)
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: This chapter provides the information and skills police officers need in order to interact successfully with sexual assault victims.
Abstract: A number of factors have been deterrents for reporting sexual assault to the police. Victims may not recognize that they are victims of a crime; believe that it is a private or personal matter; fear reprisal from their assailant; or may be in a state of crisis or suffering from post-traumatic stress symptoms that may impair their ability to report. Police officers may interact negatively with victims or dismiss cases as “unfounded” because of their personal beliefs concerning sexual assault myths and stereotypes. Despite statistics that suggest victims are more likely to be assaulted by someone they know, a number of officers express doubts concerning the authenticity of acquaintance sexual assaults. Police officers’ lack of knowledge concerning traumatic stress reactions also determines how victims are treated and whether cases are closed as unfounded or pursued. A key factor in determining the likelihood that police officers and sexual assault victims will have a positive working relationship is a successful interview process. When treated in an empathic and supportive manner, victims tend to be cooperative, recall more information, and reap psychological benefits. The factors that impede officers’ ability to conduct successful interviews with sexual assault victims are biased beliefs and attitudes about sexual assault, lack of knowledge of stress reactions, erroneous beliefs about how victims “should act,” and lack of sensitive interviewing skills. Strategies for positive working relationships are becoming aware of sexual assault stereotypes and personal biases, and understanding victims’ traumatic stress reactions. The successful interview: is where the victim wants it to take place; is by someone who has been trained as sensitive, nonjudgmental, and supportive; is where a rapport is established with the victim by the officer; where open-ended questions are used; and where the officer ends the interview by complimenting the victim on his/her ability to survive the attack and expressing thanks for assisting in the investigation. Officers should avoid lengthy interviews and questions about the victims’ sexual history. Appendix, 62 references
Main Term(s): Police-victim interaction; Sexual assault victims
Index Term(s): Personal crime victims; Post-trauma stress disorder (PTSD); Psychological victimization effects; Rape investigation training; Rape trauma syndrome; Sexual assault trauma; Victim reactions to crime
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