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Sexual Assault Awareness Month: How Police Officers Can Support Survivors

Updated: Sep 9, 2023

April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month, and as police officers, we play a crucial role in supporting survivors of sexual assault. We are often the first point of contact for victims, and your response can have a significant impact on their healing journey.

Trauma-Informed Policing Response

A trauma-informed approach to policing can make all the difference for survivors of sexual assault. Trauma-informed policing recognizes the prevalence of trauma and responds to it in a way that minimizes re-traumatization. This means listening to survivors, validating their experiences, and avoiding judgment or blame.

It also means being aware of the physical and emotional impact of trauma. Survivors of sexual assault may be disoriented, confused, or emotionally overwhelmed. They may have physical injuries or be in shock. As a police officer, it is important to approach these situations with empathy, patience, and understanding.

Pennsylvania's Protection of Victims of Sexual Violence or Intimidation Act

Pennsylvania's Protection of Victims of Sexual Violence or Intimidation Act (PSVI) provides protections for all victims of sexual violence, including sexual assault, rape, and other forms of sexual violence, regardless of the relationship between the victim and the perpetrator. The act covers a wide range of behaviors, including sexual harassment, stalking, and human trafficking. It requires law enforcement agencies to adopt policies and procedures that ensure sexual assault survivors are treated with dignity and respect. It also includes provisions for sexual assault evidence collection, victim notification, and confidentiality.

As a police officer, it is important to understand the key differences between PFAs and PSVIs. While PFA focuses on protecting victims of domestic violence, PSVI provides protections for all victims of sexual violence, regardless of their relationship with the perpetrator. It is crucial to ensure that all victims of sexual violence receive the appropriate support and resources, and to adhere to the policies and procedures outlined in the PSVI Act.


Sexual assault is a devastating crime that can have long-lasting effects on survivors. As a police officer, your role is to support survivors and help them navigate the complex legal and emotional aftermath of sexual assault. By adopting a trauma-informed approach to policing and understanding the requirements of PSVI, you can better serve survivors of sexual assault and support them in their healing journey.

Stay In The Know

At Aspirant Consulting Group we offer policy development services that can help your agency develop policies that meet the requirements of PSVI and PLEAC accreditation requirements. By working with us, you can ensure that your agency is equipped to provide the best possible support to survivors of sexual violence and to comply with the law.

Stay informed and up to date on this and other important topics. Aspirant Consulting Group and Chris Boyle Consulting will be releasing training on sexual assault awareness and response in the near future. The Training Cadre is an opportunity for Pennsylvania law enforcement professionals to enhance their knowledge and skills in this important area and better serve the communities they protect. Join The Training Cadre today to stay up to date on topics relevant to your work.



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