What is Sexual Assault Training?

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  • Written By: Tara Barnett
  • Edited By: Melissa Wiley
  • Last Modified Date: 20 November 2019
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Sexual assault training is a type of training provided to professionals who may have to deal with victims of sexual assault. The exact contents of the training varies by field, but calming the victim and preserving evidence are usually components of the training regimen. Often, if the training is being provided to law enforcement personnel, legal concepts are included. For training in other areas, such as health or counseling, more relevant interpersonal strategies may be highlighted in order to better assist the victim.

Usually, sexual assault training is used to help prepare people who interact with victims immediately after a traumatic event. The strategies an officer might use to get information out of the victim can be discussed, and the victim's rights might be reviewed. All sexual assault training provided to officers is given in the pursuit of justice for the victim, which usually means catching the perpetrator if he or she is not already known. In order to catch the perpetrator, evidence must be collected and information must be obtained.

There are other types of sexual assault training for other professions. For example, nurses are often provided with sexual assault training so that they can effectively collect a rape kit and deal professionally with victims. Likewise, counselors who interact with victims often require special training in order to better understand the victim's position. Training in these professions is always given from the perspective of the profession in question, such that a counseling approach is very different from a legal approach.

Sometimes, more prolonged contact with victims of sexual assault requires sexual assault training. Social workers and people who work with situations of prolonged abuse often undergo this type of training. In these cases, the focus is often on building a sustainable case against the perpetrator rather than collecting evidence quickly, as evidence is usually a private matter. Convincing victims to come forward can also be a large part of this type of training.

Often, this type of training must include information that professionals might not otherwise think about. For example, training must cover dealing with difficult cases, such as those in which drugs or alcohol were involved or those in which the victim is an unreliable witness. Cases of false accusations must be covered, as must those where the victim is in an otherwise consensual sexual relationship with the perpetrator, such as spousal rape. All the nuanced possibilities of a sexual assault case should be reviewed during sexual assault training.

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