Create a safe and supportive environment
- Display posters/leaflets about domestic abuse in communal areas
- Use a private safe space away from partners and family members (and children where possible)
- Ask the question as a matter of routine enquiry
- Ask sensitively but use direct questioning
- Clarify your limits of confidentiality and safeguarding responsibilities
- Repeat questions/rephrase them to help understanding
- Listen and validate – gain trust
Why ask the question?
- Asking is the essential starting point (lots of victims want you to ask)
- Not asking may reinforce messages from the abuser (it’s something not to be spoken of and to be ashamed of)
- It gives people permission to speak about their experiences
- It makes people feel valued and supported
- If the question is not asked at assessment, it tends not to be asked later
Framing the question
For an adult:
“As domestic abuse is so common, we now ask everyone who comes into our service if they experience this. This is because it affects people’s safety, health and well-being, and we want to ensure we are supporting people and keeping them as safe as possible.”
For a child (only if this is part of your role and you are trained to do so):
“We know that many mums and dads have arguments, does that ever happen in your family?”
Examples of direct questions:
- Has anyone close to you made you feel frightened?
- Does anyone close to you bully you, control you or force you into things?
- Has anyone close to you ever hurt you physically, such as hit you, pushed you, slapped you, choked you, or threatened you in any way?
- Do you feel isolated from friends and family?
Use the Power and Control Wheel as a framework for your discussion – some victims do not even realise they are victims of the range of tactics of abuse.
Additional direct questions eg to adults with care and support needs, for example:
- Has anyone prevented you from getting, food, clothes, medication, glasses, hearing aids or medical care?
- Has anyone prevented you from being with the people you want to be with?
- Has anyone tried to force you to sign papers against your will?
- Have you been upset because someone talked to you in a way that made you feel ashamed or threatened?
- Has anyone taken money belonging to you?
Signpost to help from support agencies.