U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government, Department of Justice.

NCJRS Virtual Library

The Virtual Library houses over 235,000 criminal justice resources, including all known OJP works.
Click here to search the NCJRS Virtual Library

Trauma-Informed Sexual Assault Investigations Training: Lessons Learned Attempting to Enhance Sexual Assault-Related Understanding and Reduce Rape Myth Beliefs and Burnout among Police Officers

NCJ Number
Policing-a Journal of Policy and Practice Dated: 2021
E. C. Lathan; J. Langhinrichsen-Rohling; J. T. Stefurak; J. Duncan; C. N. Selwyn
Date Published

The City of Mobile Police Department's (MPD) multidisciplinary Sexual Assault Kit Initiative team sought to identify and amend factors that theoretically contribute to high rates of sexual assault case attrition.


First, the current study examined cross-sectional relations among officers' rape myth endorsement, perceived understanding of trauma-informed sexual assault investigations, and burnout level. Second, using a cohort-based longitudinal design, this study assessed the effectiveness of MPD's department-wide adoption of a professional development module in increasing self-reported understanding of trauma-informed investigations and reducing rape myth beliefs and burnout (T1, n = 331; T2, n = 229). Rape myth beliefs differed by burnout type and level. Officers with clinically high levels of emotional exhaustion or depersonalization reported greater rape myth acceptance and estimates of falsely reported rapes than those with average or low levels of emotional exhaustion or depersonalization. Officers with a high sense of personal accomplishment endorsed lower rape myth acceptance than but similar false reporting estimates to officers with average or clinically low levels of personal accomplishment. Months post-training, officers endorsed greater perceived understanding of trauma-informed sexual assault investigations. However, reductions in officers' rape myth beliefs or burnout were not detected; on average, officers reported increased burnout at T2 regardless of whether training attendance was confirmed. Effective ways to achieve and sustain rape myth reductions while preventing and reducing burnout are needed.