The Forensic Experiential Trauma Interview

“A torn shirt, bruises, or even a DNA profile developed from a sexual assault forensic evidence kit do not — by themselves — necessarily prove that a sexual assault or other traumatic event occurred. They don’t even necessarily clarify the issue of consent or incapacitation, as many people assume. However, they do tend to assist us in understanding the reality of the crime. They are traditional forms of evidence that prosecutors and defense attorneys will typically include when arguing their cases.

But what about the nightmares, posttraumatic stress, depression, muscular pain, and fear?
Although these examples of forensic psychophysiological evidence also don’t prove the sexual assault on their own, they can provide evidentiary value – if they are carefully documented and properly explained — by helping others to understand victimization and the impact of trauma on the way in which memories are recorded.

Unfortunately, many criminal investigations reach a dead end because they are often seen as having “insufficient evidence.” Yet one of the most critical sources of evidence — the victim’s statement — is all too often overlooked or minimized in terms of the potential information and corroboration it can provide.

Physical evidence is not always available but psychophysiological evidence almost always is, if we know what to look for and how to document it.

Traditional approaches and techniques for interviewing crime victims are not based on understanding how trauma impacts the brain, behavior and memory. Standard training and habits from interrogating suspects can result in seriously misunderstanding the behaviors, memories and credibility of victims of crime – especially sexual assault victims.

Scientists now have a better understanding about why assault victims may have ‘counterintuitive’ responses such as freezing, spacing out or failing to resist. Plenty of neuroscience research is now available to help explain why victims’ memories can have gaps and some inconsistencies and yet still be very reliable in other, essential respects.”
-Russell Strand

The Forensic Experiential Trauma Interview (FETI) was developed by Russell Strand, a former Army Special Agent, and refined with experts on the neurobiology of trauma and memory. Attendees of a FETI course will learn how to use the FETI technique to ask the right kinds of questions, in the right ways, enabling them to understand victim behaviors and memories that would otherwise be confusing – or may even have been viewed as evidence of a false accusation.

The Forensic Experiential Trauma Interview enables investigators and other interviewers to understand how victims, due to automatic reactions by their brains, actually experienced their assaults and recorded them into memory. Key to effective evidence gathering, this technique reduces the inaccuracy of the information provided by a victim during an interview and greatly enhances the understanding of the traumatized person’s experience.

Persons who attend a Forensic Experiential Trauma Interview course will learn how to use FETI to ensure that trauma victims feel safe and understood, to maximize recall, and to enhance the investigative process overall by increasing victim cooperation and participation while reducing potentials for false information and recantation.

The Forensic Experiential Trauma Interview is a highly effective technique for victim, witness and some suspect interviews.

This training is fundamental for any professional who interviews, responds to, or interacts with trauma victims including:
Law Enforcement – Prosecutors – Advocates – Campus Conduct Administrators – SART Members
Sexual Assault Nurse Examiners – Title IX Investigators – Campus Conduct Panels – Teachers – Corrections Personnel – Forensic Interviewers Mental Health Professionals – Medical Providers, and more

Call or email Markel Consulting, LLC to inquire about or arrange for a value-packed training that will help provide interviewers with a better understanding of how trauma impacts these cases, provide better tools for evaluating credibility, and bring justice to victims/survivors of sexual assault and rape.