This is a story of two siblings, brought to The Center for the ongoing sexual abuse they endured from their cousin. Our Multidisciplinary Investigative Team conducted a forensic interview of the children. It took time and nurturing by the professionals, but finally the story unfolded.
Both the 5-year-old girl and her 9-year-old brother were resistant to discuss the sexual assaults.
The interviewer began with the brother, getting to know the child and letting him become more comfortable with the setting. As the child became more relaxed, the interviewer transitioned to the formal part of the interview without the child recognizing the change. The interviewer told the child:
- “If you don’t understand something, just tell me and I’ll reword it for you.”
- “If you feel uncomfortable answering something, just say so and we’ll find some other way to talk about it.”
The child engaged and with just a few prompts, was able to clearly explain how the cousin had abused both him and his sister. He was even able to explain that he had walked in on his sister’s abuse; he was not only a victim, but also a witness to a crime.
What became even more significant about this particular interview was the visible sense of relief this child experienced after he told his story. It was clear from his body language that he was relieved to be free of the burden. It was now the grown-ups’ problem and they would make sure everything would be OK. He stood up straighter, he smiled easily and he was able to look more directly at the adults. It was the kind of interview that makes us all know we are doing the right kind of work.