Seasoned Title IX practitioners incorporate trauma-informed practice into their Title IX services, including investigations. A serious Title IX matter often involves traumatic harm to the complainant and respondent with rippling effects that impact families, sports teams, clubs, and friend groups.
In the past, the Office for Civil Rights (OCR) has required trauma-informed training for Title IX Coordinators and Investigators; however, the Final Rule on Title IX (effective 8/14/20) does not require this type of training. With regulatory changes looming, we may see a return to a requirement for trauma-informed training and practices.
At Title IX Consult, LLC, we always include discussions of trauma-informed practices in our trainings. If you haven’t been trained in this area in the past or need a refresher, below are some simple, trauma-informed practices to incorporate into your Title IX process and, specifically, in Title IX investigations.
Provide Opportunities to Assert Control
Often, a trauma survivor is greatly impacted by the loss of control that they experienced in the traumatic event. Providing opportunities for the survivor to assert control can be helpful in the process. Below are simple ways to achieve this:
* Scheduling choices – allow the survivor to pick when (day of the week, time of the day) and how (in person, online) the interview will take place
* During the interview, allow the survivor to select where they will sit and who will be seated next to them (advisor, parent)
* Letting the individual select if, and when to take breaks
* Allowing the individual to ask questions about the process before you begin
Provide Transparency about the Process
Parties to a Title IX matter are often confused about the process, and a trauma victim may need additional time to grasp the complexities of the process. Here are some steps you might take:
* Discuss the process in depth and detail; answer any questions before the interview commences
* Prepare information about the process in a number of different ways –paper copy of the policy, links to online information about the process, flow charts – so you are addressing the needs of various types of learners
* Be open and welcoming to questions that may arise in the process because trauma may impact the cognitive abilities of the individual
Provide Predictability about the Process
Trauma victims often seek predictability in what to expect and when the process will conclude. To this end, the following simple techniques can be useful:
* Explain timelines in the process and potential delays
* Set a schedule for check-ins (weekly on Fridays; when all interviews are concluded, etc.)
* Keep to the set schedule to meet the need for predictability and safety
* Always reach out with information about delays – foreseen and unforeseen
Being a trauma-informed Title IX practitioner will assist you in all steps in the Title IX process as well as support the parties through this complex and time-consuming process.