FAQ: FORENSIC INTERVIEW
You were asked to bring your child to Ralston House because of concerns about possible abuse or being a witness to some form of abuse or crime.
Our goals are to:
- Do the best job possible in finding out what happened
- Help you understand the child protective and legal systems
- Reduce the level of trauma experienced by you and your child
- Help your child and family begin to heal and offer appropriate community referrals
While at the Ralston House your child will be interviewed by a specially trained forensic therapist, law enforcement representative, or social services professional. These professionals will ensure your child is not being re-traumatized, while allowing him/her to tell his/her story.
Frequently Asked Questions
- What should I tell my child about where we are going?
- How should I act toward my child before coming to Ralston House?
- Will my child be traumatized by the interview?
- May I be present in the interview room during the interview?
- May I talk to the interviewer about my child when it is over?
- Who is permitted to come to the interview with me?
Q: What should I tell my child about where we are going?
A: Ask the investigator with whom you are working what he/she would like you to tell your child. Often it is suggested that parents tell the child that they are going to meet some people whose job is to talk to children.
Q: How should I act toward my child before coming to Ralston House?
A: Provide safety, love, support and normal routines. Do not coach or pressure your child to talk about things.
Some other things you can do include the following:
Listen supportively and validate your child's feelings. Write down new information your child shares with you (and share this information with the investigator). Be careful not to question your child about the abuse. If you do, you could jeopardize the investigation. Specially-trained professionals at Ralston House will interview your child to obtain the necessary information without harming the case or further traumatizing your child. Do not probe.
Do not let your child have any contact with the alleged offender. This is to protect you, the alleged offender and your child.
Avoid discussing the case with other victims or their families.
Never coach or advise your child on how to act or what to say to the professionals or investigators. This could seriously damage the case.
Your child may need an extra sense of physical security. Stay close and assure your child you will keep him/her safe.
Also remember to give attention to your other children.
Q: Will my child be traumatized by the interview?
A: The forensic interviewer/therapist and all the professionals at Ralston House will help to ensure that your child is not being re-traumatized and his or her best interest is kept in mind. Children are not forced to stay in the interview room and are allowed breaks. The interviewers will take the time to make sure your child is comfortable without you. This means letting your child see you with the interviewer and making sure that your child knows where you will be during the interview. It will be made clear to the child that you are available, if necessary.
Q: May I be present in the interview room during the interview?
A: Parents are not allowed to be present during the interview. In your presence, your child may be unwilling to tell important details because he/she wants to spare you from hearing them. Sometimes parents can't control their emotions at what they hear, or they may place pressure on the child to tell in a way that can complicate the legal process. It also keeps clear what you know directly from your child versus what you heard your child say during the interview.
Q: May I talk to the interviewer about my child when it is over?
A: Yes. Both before and after the interview you will meet with the interviewer, social worker and/or detective. Before the interview they will explain what will happen in the interview, ask you any questions they might have and answer questions you have. After the interview they will give you information about the interview and what your child talked about during the interview.
Q: Who is permitted to come to the interview with me?
A: You should talk to the investigator with whom you are working to decide who should come to the interview with you and your child. A victim advocate will supervise your child while you are meeting with the interviewer, so you do not need to bring someone to watch your child.
If you have additional questions, please call the investigator working on your case or contact the Ralston House Contact Us.