Domestic Violence Resources

Domestic violence/intimate partner violence (IPV) are among the many sensitive topics that home visitors explore with the families with whom they work. Just as they screen for adverse childhood experiences and maternal depression, home visitors build trusting relationships and apply their observational skills and techniques such as active listening and motivational interviewing in their work with women and families who may be experiencing intimate partner violence (IPV). Here are some tips and resources for home visitors to consider.

  • Follow a universal approach to domestic abuse screening by using a "safety card." That is, offer safety cards to everyone, for their own possible use or because they may want to share it with a friend or family member. Many programs report using the Futures Without Violence Safety Card  which prompts women to think about whether they are in a healthy or problematic relationship.
  •  Using normalizing language and universal education before doing a screening for domestic violence can make it easier for a participant experiencing domestic violence to disclose and can make the conversation more comfortable for both the participants and the home visitor.
  • Think about how to approach screening conversations for domestic violence in a way that is respectful and provides an opening for disclosure. If you are a new home visitor, practicing with colleagues, or observing an experienced home visitor can help you feel more comfortable knowing how to start this conversation; for example you can start with open-ended questions, letting the mother know that you ask all families these questions to find out what concerns they may have.
  • Discuss confidentiality. Reassure the mother that you will not disclose information that she shares with partners or other family members but be clear too on your role as a mandated reporter. IPV is a possible but not automatic indication of child abuse and neglect.
  • Observe and listen. Look for clues; listen for the subtle and understated words that may be cues. Look for signs of emotional abuse, economic abuse, threats, or isolation such as "My boyfriend doesn't like it when I go out with my girlfriends," or "My husband gives me money so I can go grocery shopping."
  • Have crisis intervention telephone numbers at your fingertips. The National Domestic Violence Hotline number is 1-800-799-7233 (SAFE); the National Dating Abuse Helpline number is 1-866-331-9474. 
  • Find safe ways to do safety planning. This handout from Domestic provides concrete information about creating a safety plan. It a helpful resource but be careful not to leave it lying around or to include it in a packet of information without sharing that it is there. 
  • Visit a domestic violence shelter so you can talk knowledgeably and comfortably about the experience of being in a shelter.
  • Take care of yourself.  Monitor your own signs of stress. Use your reflective supervision time to get support from your supervisor. Know where to get additional support if your own history may trigger a strong reaction in your work with clients. Create balance in your own life. Find ways to nurture yourself so you can nurture others.
  • Take care of your own personal safety as well. Trust your instincts. Know your agency policies and crisis protocols and make sure that if you are working with a family experiencing IPV you know what do if you feel that your own safety is at risk.
  • Learn more.
    • Take a self-paced online course from the National Resource Center on Domestic Violence for basic background information on domestic violence and an interactive description of the Power and Control Wheel developed by the Domestic Abuse intervention Project in Duluth, MN. 
    • Check out the Home Visitation Booklet from the Arizona Coalition to End Sexual & Domestic Violence. This comprehensive and practical resource leads home visitors through the process of engaging with clients on domestic violence from starting the conversation and initial screening through referrals and documentation. It includes sections on mandated reporting, engaging men and fathers, and home visitor safety and self-care.