Assess All Patients for Domestic Violence
- Talk to the patient alone in a safe, private environment.
- Ask simple, direct questions.
Be Aware of:
- History suggesting domestic violence: traumatic injury or sexual assault; suicide attempt, overdose; physical symptoms related to stress; vague complaints; problems or injuries during pregnancy; history inconsistent with injury; delay in seeking care or repeat visits.
- Behavioral clues: evasive, reluctance to speak in front of partner; overly protective or controlling partner.
- Physical clues: any physical injuries; unexplained multiple or old injuries.
Take a Domestic Violence History
- Past history of domestic violence, sexual assault.
- History of abuse to any children.
Send Important Messages to Patient and Avoid Victim Blaming
- You are not alone.
- You are not to blame.
- There is help available.
- You do not deserve to be treated this way.
- Do you feel safe to go home now?
- Have there been threats of homicide or suicide?
- Are there weapons present?
- Can you stay with family or friends?
- Do you need access to a shelter?
- Do you want police intervention?
- Involve social worker if available.
- Provide list of shelters, resources, and hot-line numbers.
- National Domestic Violence Hotline: (800) 799-SAFE.
- Schedule follow-up appointment.
- Use the patient’s own words regarding injury and abuse.
- Document the name of the perpetrator as stated by the patient.
- Legibly document all injuries; use a body map.