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Domestic Violence Task Force

What is Domestic Violence?

Domestic violence can happen to anyone of any race, age, sexual orientation, religion or gender. It can happen to couples who are married, living together, or who are dating. Partner abuse and partner violence affects people of all socioeconomic backgrounds.

Domestic Violence may be defined as a pattern of abusive behavior used to gain or maintain power and control over an intimate partner.

Domestic Violence Patient Resources

Training Information

Women & Infants offers monthly trainings on Screening for Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault Evidence Collection Kit.

Please contact the Nursing Education Department at (401) 274-1122, ext. 42008 for upcoming dates and times.

Abuse can be:
  • Physical
  • Sexual
  • Emotional
  • Psychological
  • Economic
Such actions (or threats of actions) may:
  • Frighten
  • Intimidate
  • Terrorize
  • Manipulate
  • Hurt
  • Humiliate
  • Blame
  • Injure, or wound someone
Screening for Domestic Violence

Patients are screened for domestic violence with the following questions:

  • Is anyone close to you threatening or hurting you?
  • Is anyone hitting, kicking, choking, or hurting you physically?
  • Is anyone forcing you to do something sexually that you do not want to do?

The question "Do you feel safe to go home now?" is asked to help clarify the urgency of intervention for patients identified as domestic violence victims. A positive answer to this question should prompt an automatic social work consult.

In non-urgent cases, providers may utilize brochures provided by Day One and also may leave a referral telephone message for social work. Social work may involve Day One as a resource for domestic violence victims. Advocates are available 24/7.

Additional Resources for Abused Women

Victims residing outside of Rhode Island should be referred to the National Domestic Violence Hotline: 1-800-799-7233 (TTY 1-800-787-3224).

In accordance with Rhode Island state law:

  • Suspicion or knowledge of child abuse or neglect must be reported to DCYF at (800) 742-4453
  • Suspicion or knowledge of mistreatment of disabled people must be reported to the Office of Quality Assurance, Division of Developmental Disabilities, Department of Mental Health, Retardation and Hospitals at (401) 462-2629
  • Suspicion or knowledge of elder abuse must be reported to the Department of Elderly Affairs Protective Services Unit at (401) 462-0555.

Domestic Violence Assessment Guide

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.
Assess Safety
  • 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?
Make Referrals
  • 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.
Document Findings
  • 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.