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How OPDV Can Help
Review Checklist: Further On-Scene Investigation: Interviewing Victims
- Use supportive interview techniques in questioning the victim.
- If possible, establish eye contact and get on the same level as the victim; if she is sitting on the ground, place yourself on the same physical level with her. If she is sitting, do not tower over her, but sit with her if possible, or stand a slight distance from her so as not to appear threatening.
- Be cognizant of all these dynamics before you even begin speaking to her, as you physically position yourself and determine your tone of voice and line of questioning. Some excellent ways to begin a victim interview on scene involve telling the victim, in a calm voice: “Your safety is my first priority.”
- Allow the victim a chance to tell the story in her own words, and then
ask for details with open-ended questions like “Can you tell me more
about that?” and “What happened next?” Other helpful
things to tell the victim throughout the interview include:
- “I am sorry this happened to you.”
- “You are not alone.”
- “There are people who want to help you.”
- “You have been treated terribly and have reason to be upset.”
- If the victim expresses mixed feelings or fear about getting help, acknowledge her feelings and urge her to talk with an advocate about safety planning, whether or not she stays with the abuser. Validate her feelings.
- Do not make statements of judgment or question her choices to leave or stay with her abuser. Respect her right to self-determination.