The Victim Interview: Adapting the Forensic Interview Model to Sexually Trafficked Minors

The Victim Interview: Adapting the Forensic Interview Model to Sexually Trafficked Minors
Duration: 60 Minutes
Module 1Module 1
Recorded on: 2023-09-21
Unit 1Presentation Materials: The Victim Interview: Adapting the Forensic Interview Model to Sexually Trafficked Minors
Unit 2Transcript: The Victim Interview: Adapting the Forensic Interview Model to Sexually Trafficked Minors
Unit 3Workbook: The Victim Interview: Adapting the Forensic Interview Model to Sexually Trafficked Minors
Unit 4Recording: The Victim Interview: Adapting the Forensic Interview Model to Sexually Trafficked Minors

The relationship between the victim and the pimp can get convoluted. The pimp may use the threat of violence or manipulation to establish control of the victim. The victim then gets caught up in a confusing dynamic of dependency and fear with their pimp disguised as love. This webinar unpacks how to better serve sex trafficking victims by understanding the dynamics between the pimp and the victims and how this influences the victim’s participation in the legal proceedings and the outcomes of sex trafficking cases.

Leading the presentation are Sara Micflikier and Chris Schopen from the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office. Sara is a Deputy County Attorney who works in the Sex Crimes Bureau handling complex cases of sexual assault and sexual offenses and post-conviction caseload of sex offender probationers. Chris is a Wellness Trainer with a background working as an educator, therapist, and forensic interviewer and has interviewed over 5,000 victims, nationally and internationally.

Specifics of their discussion include:

  • The prevalence of teenage female victims in sex trafficking cases.
  • The phase of brain development that happens in the teen years makes teenagers likely to take risks and seek novel experiences and consequently vulnerable to sex trafficking victimization.
  • How the sense of time is the last part of the brain to develop and how this creates issues in sex trafficking cases where specifying time frames is critical.
  • A rundown of terminologies that those working on sex trafficking cases should familiarize with to better understand the dynamics of the actors within.
  • How cognitive distortions and cognitive dissonance play out in trafficking dynamics, allowing both victims and abusers to rationalize their actions.
  • How trauma-coerced attachments develop when trauma and reinforcement alternate, allowing victims to form bonds with their abusers due to perceived care and support, which can hinder rescue efforts.
  • How fear and loyalty can become intertwined, making it even harder for victims to report and seek help.
  • A case example that illustrates the complex relationship dynamics between a bottom and the pimp.
  • Audio recordings of the bottom’s testimony that revealed:
    • How they met and her emotional struggle in testifying against the pimp.
    • The physical abuse she experienced and the cognitive dissonance and distortions that played out in the relationship.
    • How memories tend to be mixed up and separating events can be difficult when incidents – including abuse take place recurringly.
    • Sussing out through script memory by using her birthday as the reference to prompt episodic memory.
    • The actual dynamic between the bottom and the pimp as the pimp represented himself in the court proceedings.
    • How the pimp attempted to prevent the bottom from testifying by manipulating her feelings so she doesn’t go against him.
  • How understanding the victim’s background and the reasons behind their actions and recognizing how cognitive dissonance and distortions play out is crucial for forensic interactions.
  • Building rapport and perseverance are key to fostering trust with and obtaining crucial information from victims, as it takes multiple interactions to achieve this.

Questions raised by the webinar participants are about:

  • Whether bottom girls are treated as traffickers or victims in cases.
  • The outcome of the case and victim.
  • Rapport-building questions found to be successful when used with the trafficked population.
  • Whether the recorded jail call was used as an additional charge for tampering with the witness.
  • Getting forensic interview training for non-law enforcement.
  • Reasons for moving victims and sex trafficking operations frequently.


Other Webinars with this Presenter


Or click here to view and register for other upcoming Victim Assistance webinars and recordings on the JCH Platform.


Audience Comments

  • “We have and are teaching an adaptation of motivational interviewing to our HT Task Force officers. We appreciate that others are trying similar tools and would very much like to participate in a longer training. Thank you!” — Brenda
  • “I thought it was interesting to learn how they were approaching the victims and how to observe the interactions between the abuser/victim. The tactical and thoughtful information was interesting.” — Briana
  • “The terminology, explanations and examples were great. I always enjoy a training course where case studies are reviewed by directly involved parties. Thank you.” — Nancy
  • “I feel that I have a much better understanding of why the victims stay with their traffickers thanks to the information the presenters covered.” — Charlotte
  • “I thought the whole training was very informative. Thank you.” — Maria





Additional Resources
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