Trauma informed advocacy: Why it is important for victims of sexual violence

As a Crime Victim Lawyer, one of the most important meetings is the initial interview to listen to the victim’s story. Just verbalizing the sexual violence they suffered can be re-traumatizing, so, lawyers should understand their role as Trauma Informed advocates in order to foster a trusting environment in which the client can tell their story uninterrupted. Consider the following:

  • Tell the victim you are sorry that they suffered sexual violence and explain your role in the case;
  • Meet the victim in an environment where they feel safe;
  • Listen with empathy and validate their experience. Do not interrupt unless it is crucial;
  • Be “present.” The lawyer handling the case should be there for the initial meeting;
  • Use appropriate language under the law when asking questions about the assault itself;
  • Use of pronouns. Ask if there anything they want you to know about their gender or identity;
  • Some victims will feel strongly that they want to write out their stories, let them do so prior to the initial meeting ;
  • Ask for permission to contact family or friends who may have information helpful to the case.

The Law Office of Tahira Khan Merritt is a Trauma Informed law firm. We exclusively represent child and adult victims of sexual abuse and sexual assault in civil cases. We stand ready to help you with your legal needs. For more than twenty-five years, we have represented victims of sex crimes in civil cases against institutions, including colleges and universities, religious organizations, such as the Catholic Church, Baptist Church, Greek Orthodox Church, Episcopal Church, and Presbyterian Church, among others. We have also represented victims of sexual abuse in medical settings, group homes, schools, youth sports organizations, youth camps, daycares, scouting, and other youth serving organizations. You may confidentially contact our office at 214-503-7300 or through our website :

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