A safe and welcoming screening environment
The following is a list of suggestions for how service providers can create a safe and welcoming environment to facilitate disclosure.
  • Create a space away from others to screen for domestic violence.
  • Make it common procedure to see clients individually to ensure that victims have a safe and private space to disclose their abuse history.
  • While it is important to follow procedural documents, create a more human feel while screening by setting aside papers and clipboard. This will allow you to make eye contact with the client in front of you.
  • Provide visual signage of relevant domestic violence support services on office walls and on bulletin boards in the event that a client may not be ready to make a disclosure.
  • Advise your client that you will be continuing the conversation regarding her personal relationships at subsequent visits. This will send the message that your “door” is always open to discuss unhealthy relationships.

Accepting where she is at
You may attempt to help a female victim disclose her abuse history but she may simply not be ready. As frustrating as this might be, what she needs from you in this moment is to accept her for where she is at and to try to keep an open dialogue during future interactions. It is not recommended that you continue to probe her with further questions as she may feel that she is being interrogated. In addition, you may hurt any rapport that you have built with your client. In some cases, she may never return if she feels pressured to disclose.
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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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