What Do I Do if I Am Investigating a Traumatic Event?
Aug. 7, 2021
What do you do if you are investigating something really traumatic? Unfortunately, as workplace investigators, we occasionally have to investigate some really awful stuff. People get killed at work. People get raped at work. Some truly awful things happen at work and workplace investigators get called into some of that stuff. And I suppose what I would tell you to remember you're not investigating the underlying crime. That is something that the police will have engaged with, but you're still dealing with a traumatized person.
And there is some really good research through the Association of Workplace Investigators about interviewing through a trauma process. And it's been really, really good information to have in my tool belt because I can see the trauma on the way people engage with me now. And that's super helpful for everyone in the room, but ultimately If the person you're talking to truly is traumatized I think the advice is: go slow. Acknowledge the things you learn in your trauma training. Like, "Oh, you're telling me this story super out of order, which I realize is really, really normal in a trauma brain, but help me put it back together because I need to understand it in a sequential way, because that's how my brain works." Being able to say things like, "I'm about to ask you questions about your body. And I realize that that is traumatic, but these are the reasons I need to understand that. Tell me where he touched your inner thigh. It was here or not here. It was on the top. It was in the middle." Whatever it is, ultimately you need to tread lightly. The other thing, and I've talked about this in other interviews, but sometimes emotional support animals, the dogs that are available for courtrooms and for veterans and other people who have experienced trauma, they can be super helpful in a workplace investigation particularly if it's around a really traumatic incident.