U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government, Department of Justice.

Victim Interviewing in Cases of Domestic Violence: Techniques for Police (From Policing and Victims, P 87-107, 2002, Laura J. Moriarty, ed., -- See NCJ-192835)

NCJ Number
Denise Kindschi Gosselin
Date Published
21 pages
This chapter focused on interviewing techniques for police when dealing with domestic violence cases.
Police respond to violence that involves a spouse or lover up to 8 million times per year. Emotions are extremely high during a dispute, which makes the situation volatile and unpredictable. In a domestic dispute it is not unusual for the parties to be hostile to police interference. All people present or involved should be interviewed. Good communication skills and a willingness to listen to people determine how successful the officer will be in obtaining a statement. Purposeful interviewing refers to the realization that statements are sought for specific reasons. A victim may be unwilling or unable to provide information that will be used against the partner. Purposeful interviewing aims to verify and give credibility to the victim without expecting a high level of cooperation. The reasons for purposeful interviewing are victim identification, risk assessment, evidence gathering, and outcome determination. Interview methods include the traditional approach, which is who, what, where, when, why, and how. This method describes the information needed rather than how the interview should be conducted. The behavioral approach includes preparation, establishment of the psychological content, and the actual questioning. In this approach, the investigator should give clues that indicate he/she is actively listening. The study of nonverbal communication through body movements is referred to as kinesics. In Reid behavior analysis, the questions are developed to elicit verbal and nonverbal responses to show inconsistencies. The cognitive interview consists of four memory-jogging techniques that are grouped to improve retrieval from the stored memory through the identification of cues. When children are interviewed as witnesses in a domestic dispute, questioning should take place apart from the parents and the traditional interview method should be used. When questioning an elderly victim, aggression, agitation, and/or depression can be due to a form of dementia, so an officer must rule out organic causes when investigating an abuse situation. 33 references