Framing the questions
There are many ways to ask women about unhealthy relationships. It is important that you test different approaches in order to find the statements that come most naturally to you. Often, you will begin by explaining that you routinely ask ALL clients about domestic violence. The following are a few samples of statements that you can use:

  • “Unfortunately, woman abuse is common in many people’s lives, so I have made it a routine to ask ALL of my clients.”
  • “I see a lot of women dealing with unhealthy relationships. Many women are too scared to open up about their abuse history, so I have started to ask questions about it with each visit.”
  • “How do you feel about the relationships in your life? I want you to know that this is a safe place to talk about anything that might be going on and to get help.”
  • “From my experience with other clients, I am concerned that some of the issues that you are dealing with may be the result of someone hurting you. Is this happening?”
Woman abuse screening tool-short (wast-short)
The purpose of this toolkit is not to enforce a one-size-fits-all approach to universal screening, since many service sectors have existing tools built into their intake procedures. The Woman Abuse Screening Tool-Short (WAST-Short) was developed and validated by Brown, Lent, Schmidt, and Sas (2000). It is to be used as a guide to ensure that existing screening practices include the following questions.

 

1. In general, how would you describe your relationship?

  • A lot of tension
  • Some tension
  • No tension

2. Do you and your partner work out arguments with

  • Great difficulty
  • Some difficulty
  • No difficulty

3. Do arguments ever result in you feeling down or bad about yourself?

  • Often
  • Sometimes
  • Never

4. Do arguments ever result in hitting kicking, or pushing?

  • Often
  • Sometimes
  • Never

5. Do you ever feel frightened by what your partner says or does?

  • Often
  • Sometimes
  • Never

6. Has your partner ever abused you physically?

  • Often
  • Sometimes
  • Never

7. Has your partner ever abused you emotionally?

  • Often
  • Sometimes
  • Never

8. Has your partner ever abused you sexually?

  • Often
  • Sometimes
  • Never
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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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