Interviewing Victims of Trauma

When interviewing a victim of trauma, you need to ensure his or her physical safety and comfort. To help prevent any further suffering, work as much as you can with the interviewee to chose a location and time they are most comfortable – and offer the choice of same-gender interviewer and interpreter, if possible.

In addition, work to establish the best rapport with the victim as you can. Take time to introduce yourself, your crew, the project and the exact purpose of the interview. Create a space for the interviewee to ask questions and address any concerns s/he may have. Moreover, the interviewee should be informed that s/he does not have to be interviewed, can refuse to answer questions s/he is not comfortable with and can stop the interview at any time.

When conducting the interview, remain neutral and sensitive throughout the interview. Respect the interviewee’s need for privacy, desire to not talk about details and be patient. Be an active listener, but avoid judging or questioning the interviewee – and avoid saying you know how s/he feels. Offer guaranteed confidentiality and guard anonymity when requested (see filming tips for safety and security). Additionally, keep written information of the victim locked and secure from others – failing to do this may have grave consequences for the victim as well as discourage others from coming forward.

At the conclusion of the interview, the interviewee should be reassured of his/her safety, and any follow-up action explained. S/he should also be given the opportunity to ask any questions. At the conclusion of the interview, the interviewer should determine whether the victim requires medical, legal and/or counseling assistance and make the necessary referrals.

What’s Next? Interviewing Exercise

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