Trauma Informed Sexual Assault Investigations

Trauma Informed Sexual Assault Investigations

These resources provide law enforcement and multi-disciplinary community partners with information on the neurobiology of trauma and investigative strategies to respond to sexual assault crimes in a victim centered, trauma informed manner.


The IACP has partnered with the Department of Justice, Office on Violence Against Women (OVW) since 2014 to provide resources, training, and technical assistance on trauma informed sexual assault investigations to law enforcement and other criminal justice system professionals.  

Approximately 1 in 3 women and 1 in 6 men have experienced sexual violence in their lifetime. However, around 67.5% of rape/sexual assault victims do not report their  victimization to police. 

At present, crimes of sexual assault go vastly under reported and perpetrators continue undetected. The goal of these resources is to strengthen the capacity of law enforcement to provide effective response to victims of sexual assault while simultaneously holding offenders accountable.  

IACP Resources

Trauma Informed Sexual Assault Investigation Training Curriculum 

This training curriculum serves as a resource to assist instructors in creating and facilitating  trainings on conducting trauma informed sexual assault investigations. The training curriculum is designed so that the length of the training can be adapted to different training needs. It provides guidance on relevant training content, suggested activities, facilitation strategies, and  instructor talking points. 

Successful Trauma Informed Victim Interviewing 

This document demonstrates how trauma-informed interview techniques can be used to  reframe interview questions that may be perceived by a victim as blaming them for their actions  in a manner that helps victims retrieve memories from a traumatic event and assists law  enforcement in gathering more information while making the victim feel more supported. 

The Impact of Trauma: A Trauma-Informed Lens and Response Webinar  

This webinar discusses how traumatic experiences can impact victim memory, reactions and behavior, and the implications of this for first responders’ and investigators’ interviews and investigations. This information is also relevant for any incident where a traumatic event has occurred such as a car accident or burglary. Please create a free account with IACPlearn to view. 

Drug/Alcohol-Facilitated Sexual Assault (DFSB) Webinar 

This webinar will address the complexities of sexual assault cases facilitated by drugs and/or  alcohol and provide investigative strategies that better support victims as they recall details of  the assault and that obtain more evidence to better hold perpetrators accountable.  Please create a free account with IACPlearn to view. 

Bringing Sexual Assault Offenders to Justice Roll-Call Training Video

The goal of this video is to help officers generate stronger cases by reframing sexual assault crimes, providing tools to conduct perpetrator focused investigations, and building an understanding of victim behavior.

Sexual Assault Incident Reports: Investigative Strategies

These guidelines and interview strategies are based upon national best practices regarding sexual assault incident investigations and were developed in collaboration with local, state, and federal law enforcement, prosecutors, advocates, medical, and forensic professionals.

Sexual Assault Supplemental Report Form

The Sexual Assault Supplemental Report Form is to be used for the reporting, recording, and investigation of all sexual assault incidents.

Sexual Assault Incident Reports: Pocket Tip Card

This pocket tip card for officers is a convenient, portable resource to accompany the IACP's Sexual Assault Incident Reports: Investigative Strategies. 

Sexual Assault Response Policy and Training Content Guidelines

This document provides content to support agencies in developing sexual assault policies and training curricula.

Responding to Sexual Violence in LGBTQ+ Communities: Law Enforcement Strategies and Considerations

This document provides agencies with strategies for effectively responding to sexual violence in LGBTQ+ communities.


Additional Resources

Dr. Rebecca Campbell (BJA)

The following webinar series features Dr. Rebecca Campbell, a Professor of Psychology at Michigan State University presenting for the BJA Sexual Assault Kit Initiative Training and Technical Assistance (SAKITTA) project. She presents on the neurobiology of traumatic events, its emotional and physical manifestation, and how these processes can impact the investigation and prosecution of sexual assaults. The webinar series is located at: 

Dr. David Lisak (ACASA), Neurobiology of Trauma Presentation  

Dr. Rebecca Campbell (Joyful Heart Foundation), Article on Fight, Flight, or Freeze Response (Tonic Immobility)

Anna Möller, Hans Peter Söndergaard, Lotti Helström, Study on Tonic Immobility During Sexual Assault


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