Interviewing adult complainants in sexual assault cases

Kate Chenier*, Rebecca Milne, Kevin Smith, Brent Snook

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter (peer-reviewed)peer-review


This chapter reviews current research and internationally published guidance for conducting interviews with adult sexual assault victims and identifies key best practices to improve the interview process. Among the issues identified by practitioners, researchers, and victims, two of the overriding themes are victim empowerment and a climate of belief. Although police services internationally have special units, enhanced training for sexual assault investigations, and established multi-disciplinary efforts to make victims more comfortable with the process, attrition figures for sexual assault crimes remain high. This chapter will address the following questions: (1) What do victims need? (2) What challenges do investigators face? Answers include the need for a victim-centred and trauma-informed process, good interviewing practices, and having the appropriate mindset. To this end, training should address both attitudes and behavior, with incremental skill development. Recording interviews for evidentiary purposes is discussed as an alternative to written statements. The chapter concludes with suggestions for further research.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationCriminal Investigations of Sexual Offenses: Investigative Techniques and Operational Challenges
EditorsNadine Deslauriers-Varin, Craig Bennell
Number of pages18
ISBN (Electronic)9783030799687
ISBN (Print)9783030799670
Publication statusPublished - 24 Dec 2021


  • Interview training
  • Police interviewing
  • Sexual assault
  • Trauma
  • Victim interviewing


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