New bill would help law enforcement use trauma-informed interview techniques

Minnesota Congressman Tom Emmer and Senator Amy Klobuchar are teaming up on a bill to help sexual assault victims.

Their act is named after Minnesota sexual assault survivor Abby Honold, who now works with police departments across the state on how to interview victims. 

The bill would provide grants from the Justice Department to law enforcement agencies to change how they approach sexual assault investigations. It would help police customize their investigations to take a culturally sensitive approach.

But, most importantly, it would incorporate what’s called trauma-informed interview techniques in talking with sexual assault victims.

"The trauma-informed interviewing understands that when people have been traumatized, their brains store information in a different way. So, instead of trying to get a victim to walk through things chronologically, somebody who is trauma-informed will say, 'Tell me everything you remember and we’ll go from there,'" Honold explained.

Honold said trauma-informed interviews also ask questions about a person’s senses. She said it helps the victim to open up and give investigators more useful information to use in their cases that lead to more successful prosecutions.