MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — A survivor of sexual assault is working to get law enforcement more training for interviewing victims.

Abby Honold was a 19-year-old freshman at the University of Minnesota when she was raped three years ago.

“I imagine my police interview might have been frustrating,” Honold said. “My brain was working on autopilot which I now know is a really common trauma reaction.”

Honold’s attacker was eventually sent to prison, but Honold said she suffered additional trauma when she was initially interviewed about what happened.

“When I would remember a piece of information in my interview the detective would stop me from sharing it because he wanted me to go in chronological order,” Honold said. “I felt myself mentally shutting down and not wanting to talk to him anymore.”

Honold credits her forensic nurse in the hospital for helping her feel believed and recall more information.

“I found out later she used a technique called FETI,” Honold described. “She asked about what I saw, heard, tasted and felt, which helped me talk about things in a really candid way.”

The Forensic Experiential Trauma Interview (FETI) technique started in the U.S. Army. Now, the Minnesota Coalition Against Sexual Assault (MNCASA) has received a grant to give the training to law enforcement agencies in Minnesota for free.

The idea is to stress that trauma shapes memory. Traumatized people often undergo a process many professionals and victims do not completely understand.

Sen. Al Franken is introducing a bill to get federal funding to expand the program to the entire country.

“Because of my forensic nurse and the way she interviewed me and collected evidence, my rapist is now in prison for multiple assaults,” Honold said.

Honold hopes FETI training will improve the chances of other survivors seeing justice. Law enforcement agencies should be able to get this training free of charge starting in November, according to MNCASA

Honold has graduated from the U of M and is now dedicating her work to helping other survivors of sexual violence.

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