Forensic Interviewing: Reducing the Trauma of Child Abuse

Victims of child abuse suffer enough physical and emotional trauma due to the abuse. Reporting that abuse shouldn’t cause them to suffer even more. But having to tell their story multiple times – to police officers, to child protective services workers and to prosecuting attorneys – can force them to relive the pain again and again – in essence, revictimizing them.

Safe & Sound’s Forensic Interviewing Program focuses on the child victim of sexual or severe physical abuse. The forensic interview minimizes or eliminates that added trauma, by coordinating the questions and concerns of everyone involved into one non-threatening, fact-finding interview.

The interview takes place in a safe, child-friendly environment, conducted by an objective, trained forensic interviewer. A multidisciplinary team, made up of representatives from agencies and organizations that are responsible for ensuring the welfare of the child or handling any potential criminal proceedings, is able to witness the interview through one-way glass. Following the interview, the team members meet to review their findings and coordinate their response to protect the victim.

While the child is being interviewed, a case coordinator provides the non-offending caregiver with support and information about the forensic interview process, the legal system, medical and counseling resources, how to cope with their feelings, and how to appropriately talk and listen to a child in the aftermath of sexual abuse. A guardian’s coping can be an important indicator for the future well-being of the child. Providing support and education for guardians at the time of crisis is critical to the child’s recovery.