Research has shown that over 80% of female victims of domestic violence experience mental health and/or addiction issues.* If these issues are not identified as a direct result of trauma, a biomedical approach is often used, which ignores the impact and consequences of abuse-related trauma on a woman’s well-being. Mental health, addictions, and primary care providers have begun to realize that a trauma-informed practice may increase the probability of positive health outcomes for female victims.

Victims of intimate partner violence use a variety of entry points to access the help that they need. The purpose of this toolkit is to offer assistance to various service providers on how to create a trauma-informed approach through the use of appropriate screening practices as well as how to refer female victims to both domestic violence and other related services.

*Reference: J. Barron, 2005. Women’s Aid: Guidance for Mental Health Professionals”.


Their hopes in their words
Women with lived experience have actively participated in creating this toolkit. Female victims participating in this project expressed a number of positive outcomes that they hoped would be the result of this project. These included:

  • There will be no wrong door or entry point for female victims seeking help as all service providers will be knowledgeable regarding trauma-specific services in the region.
  • All service providers, regardless of sector, will ask women about their history of exposure to violence.
  • An understanding across sectors that mental health and addiction issues are often a direct consequence of repeated violence.
  • Women will be believed and accepted for where they are at in their healing journey.
  • Women will experience less secondary wounding from front-line providers by being directed to the appropriate service earlier in the recovery process.
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Toolkit for responding to trauma-related abuse

A guide for addictions, mental health and primary care professionals
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