Bill would establish a demonstration program for trauma-informed training of law enforcement, including training for interviewing victims of sexual assault and investigating sexual assault crimes 

Minnesota Congressman Tom Emmer joined senators in effort inspired by Abby Honold, a former University of Minnesota student and rape survivor

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senators Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) and John Cornyn (R-TX) reintroduced the Abby Honold Act—bipartisan legislation that would promote the use of trauma-informed techniques in responding to sexual assault crimes. The legislation was inspired by Abby Honold, a former student of the University of Minnesota and rape survivor, to bring this issue to the forefront. The bill would establish a demonstration program to incorporate trauma-informed techniques and evidence-based practices in responding to sexual assault crimes in order to prevent re-traumatization of the victim and improve communication between victims and law enforcement officers.  The bill will increase the likelihood of the successful investigation and prosecution of alleged sexual assault crimes in a manner that protects the victim. Congressman Tom Emmer (R-MN) today reintroduced bipartisan companion legislation in the House of Representatives.

“Abby was able to turn an incredibly horrific crime into something that could help other survivors,” Klobuchar said. “We must do more to support survivors like Abby, and this bill, named in her honor, will provide law enforcement with the skills and resources to avoid re-traumatization and effectively see investigations through to prosecution.”

“Law enforcement have a big role in the recovery process of sexual assault victims, from collecting information about the attack to bringing the attacker to justice,” Cornyn said. “Making a victim feel comfortable and cared for requires a compassionate response, and our bill ensures law enforcement have the trauma-informed training they need to help deliver justice for victims.”

“This is an important step forward to provide better treatment to sexual assault victims in crisis and it will make certain that it is easier to prosecute sexual assault like the heinous crime it is,” Emmer said. “Abby’s courage has brought us to where we are today, one step closer to providing the care victims of sexual assault deserve. Providing our law enforcement with the best possible tools, not only aids in the victims healing but helps retrieve the most accurate and complete information to bring perpetrators to justice.”

“I am incredibly grateful to Senator Klobuchar and Congressman Emmer for introducing my bill. I never would have imagined that I could have made something good come out of what happened to me. Victims of sexual violence deserve better when and if they report to police, and law enforcement deserves better training and resources for sex crimes,” Abby Honold said.

Specifically, the bill would require the Justice Department to award grants over the next two fiscal years to law enforcement agencies to implement evidence-based or promising practices to incorporate trauma-informed techniques in responding to sexual assault cases. Grant recipients would be required to provide training on the use of evidence-based, trauma-informed practices throughout an investigation into sexual assault, domestic violence, dating violence, or stalking, by:

  • Conducting victim interviews in a manner that elicits valuable information about the assault and avoids re-traumatization of the victim,
  • Conducting field investigations that reflect best and promising practices,
  • Customizing investigative approaches to ensure a culturally appropriate approach,
  • Responding to complex cases involving alcohol- or drug-facilitated sexual assault, non-stranger sexual assault, victims with disabilities, LGBT victims, and male sexual assault, and
  • Developing collaborative relationships between law enforcement, prosecutors, and other members of the sexual assault response team and the community.