The Pre-Interview Process

Personal Preparation

A. Clear negative attitudes and misconceptions.

B. People with disabilities are people, not disabilities. ( Use “people-first” language- examples: “George has cerebral palsy,” not “He is a cerebral palsy.” Another example is “Martha has a cold,” not “Martha is a cold.”)

C. The victim’s physical appearance may affect you at first.

1. If you have had little interaction with individuals with disabilities, the person’s physical often viewed negatively.

2. Furthermore, there are many myths and stereotypes that we may inadvertently or unknowingly believe are true.

3. Before working with individuals who have any type of difference, whether the difference is cultural, ethnic, religious, or another form, you must be sure to arrive at the interview free of those factors that can interfere with the interview or cause a negative interpretation of the results. 

4. If you feel that you cannot adjust quickly enough to interact effectively with the individual, use another member of the team to handle the direct interview while you attend to other important matters, such as collecting evidence or interviewing other witnesses.

Victim Knowledge

1. Before meeting the crime victim, obtain information about the individual from available

A. Read personal records and charts.

B. Talk to family members and care providers.

C. Ascertain victim stress and anxiety.


Interview Site and Time Schedule

Create a sense of ample space. Although it may seem obvious, it is important that the interview area appear as spacious as possible. To create a sense of space, have few items on the wall or in the room. An area that

is free of distractions and seems to have ample space will facilitate a positive interaction.

U.S. Department of Justice: Office of Justice Programs: Office for Victims of Crime (2011). Victims with disabilities: The forensic interview: Techniques for interviewing victims with communication and/or cognitive disabilities-Trainer’s guide.