IV. D-4. Domestic Violence and Child Abuse and Neglect

Effective 11/8/05

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IV. D-4. Domestic Violence and Child Abuse and Neglect

Effective 11/8/05

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DEFINITIONS

Domestic Violence is defined as:

A pattern of coercive behavior that is used by a person against family or household members to establish and maintain power or control over the other party in the relationship.  This behavior may include physical violence, sexual abuse, emotional and psychological intimidation, verbal abuse and threats, stalking, isolation from friends and family, economic control and destruction of personal property.  Domestic violence occurs between people of all racial, economic, educational, and religious backgrounds.  It occurs in heterosexual and same sex relationships, between married and unmarried partners, between current and former partners, and between other family and household members

A Batterer is defined as: A person who exercises a pattern of coercive control in a partner relationship, punctuated by one or more acts of intimidating physical violence, sexual assault, or credible threat of physical violence. This pattern of control and manipulation may be predominantly psychological, economic, or sexual in nature or may rely primarily on the use of physical violence

 

LEGAL BASE

Title 22 MRSA – Section 4004 Authorizations, Paragraph 2 - Duties.

The department shall act to protect abused and neglected children and children in circumstances that present a substantial risk of abuse and neglect, to prevent further abuse and neglect, to enhance the welfare of these children and their families and to preserve family life whenever possible.

 

Title 19-A MRSA – Section 4001 Purposes, Paragraph 1 – Recognition.

To recognize domestic abuse as a serious crime against the individual and society, producing an unhealthy and dangerous family environment, resulting in a pattern of escalating abuse, including violence, that frequently culminates in intrafamily homicide and creating an atmosphere that is not conducive to healthy childhood development.

 

PHILOSOPHY

The primary focus of DHHS intervention in domestic abuse cases is the ongoing assessment of the risk posed to children by the presence of domestic abuse. Except in extreme cases (See "Case decisions" section) holding a victim accountable for failure to protect self or others – i.e. blaming the victim for being a victim – has no place in our practice.  The preferred way to protect children in most domestic abuse cases is to join with non-offending caregivers in safety planning and to hold offenders accountable. It is important to work closely with family violence programs, the criminal justice system, and batterer/abuser intervention and education programs.

 

The Department of Health & Human Services will work collaboratively with local and state law enforcement and other agencies to hold the batterer accountable for his/her behaviors.  The Office of Child & Family Services will work collaboratively with the Maine Coalition to End Domestic Violence (MCEDV) member agencies to provide education, support, and safety planning for adult victims and their children.  We know from our experience and the experience of our partners that in making the adult victim of the batterer safe, we increase or create safety for the children.

 

Domestic Violence is one of the most complicated and dangerous situations child welfare professionals must address when seeking child safety.  The guidelines for working with adult and child victims of batterers and the batterers themselves are extensive.  These guidelines are contained within the DOMESTIC VIOLENCE PROTOCOL.  (This policy reflects the Domestic Violence Protocol and is derived from it to the point of plagiarism in the interest of on-line access for child welfare staff.)  The protocol was developed by the Department of Health & Human Services and the Maine Coalition to End Domestic Violence (MCEDV) (1997). Until revised, this protocol remains the practice guideline for Office of Child & Family Services staff.  

 

PROCEDURES

ASSESSMENT

In conducting a Child Abuse & Neglect Assessment of Families alleged to be experiencing domestic violence the caseworker must gather critical information regarding:

 The nature and severity of the domestic violence in the case at hand, keep in mind that domestic violence like all violence occurs across a full spectrum of severity.
 The impact of the domestic violence on both the adult and child victims.
 The signs of safety, danger, and risk present.
 The help seeking and survival strategies of the adult victim.
 The alleged perpetrator’s level of dangerousness.
 The safety and service needs of the family members.
 The availability of both informal and formal supports and resources.

 

Because of the nature of domestic violence, including the coercion and threats often used by the batterer, care must be taken to ensure that assessment activities do not compromise the safety of any family member or the caseworker.

 

1.For Child Protective Intake

In assessing for domestic abuse/violence, Intake should determine the appropriateness, urgency, and immediate service needs associated with a report as well as potential safety problems for the investigator.  As part of all initial intake interviews, reporters should be asked if they have knowledge or information regarding the following:

§Whether the parent who is primary caregiver is being abused, threatened, or coerced.
§Whether the abuser has criminal charges pending or prior criminal convictions or arrests for domestic abuse/violence related crimes.
§If a temporary or final protection from abuse order is in place, what court and when was it issued?

 

If the reporter provides information indicating current or past domestic abuse/violence in the family, Intake should try to determine:

§Whereabouts of the children during incident
§If children or adult victim were injured or if any other impact is known
§Frequency and severity of incidents
§Whether weapons were involved
§Steps taken to ensure safety for adult victim and child

 

Intake should indicate whether domestic abuse/violence is a risk factor warranting further assessment.

 

2.Information Collection Prior to Initial Contact with the Family
§Conduct a criminal records check for domestic violence – related charges or convictions, probation violations, as well as civil protection orders.
§Review the agency’s case file for prior allegations or a history of domestic violence.
§Contact the local police or sheriff’s department to inquire about domestic violence related service calls (911) made from the home.

 

Collecting this information prior to the initial contact with the family can inform the caseworker about the alleged perpetrator’s level of dangerousness and the precautions that may be necessary in interviewing each of the critical case members.  In addition, collateral information that corroborates allegations of domestic violence can help caseworkers facilitate more open interviews of the case members, particularly when some or all may be afraid to disclose the abuse.

 

3.Initial Contact With the Family

Interview of the child(ren): As with all CPS interviews of children alleged to be abused or neglected, it is important to create a safe and supportive atmosphere that helps children discuss very difficult and frightening topics.  Alleged child victims should generally be interviewed alone and definitely not in the presence of the alleged abuser.

Questions regarding domestic abuse/violence in this section will focus on three areas.  However, this in no way precludes assessment for other types of problems within the family.

§The child’s account of what s/he saw and how s/he understands the violence/abuse.
§The impact of witnessing violence.
§The child’s worries about safety.

 

While it is generally agreed that witnessing domestic violence can have serious, negative impact on children, assessing the degree of that impact can be difficult and challenging. Studies documenting the types of problems associated with children who are exposed to domestic violence reveal a wide variation in their responses to the violence. Therefore it is critical to assess the unique impact on the particular child, not just what the child observed or was exposed to. See appendix for suggested questions for interviewing children regarding domestic violence.

 

Interview of Adult Victim:

§Always attempt to interview the adult victim in a safe location without the abuser present.  Victims’ information about the impact of abuse on them and on their children tends to be more accurate than abuser’s.  Because of minimization, denial, and lying, abusers may not be very accurate reporters of the impact of their behavior on others.  Regardless of his/her veracity, however, the abuser’s perceptions will provide insight about his/her willingness to acknowledge abusive conduct and make changes.

 

§It is not uncommon for abused victims to minimize the abuse and/or violence toward themselves and/or their children.  They may not label the behavior as abusive; they may be protecting their partner on whom they are financially dependent; they may be threatened by the abuser if they shared what goes on in the home; they may love the abuser…abusers are usually not abusive or violent all of the time; the adult victim may fear that the caseworker will take his/her children, a threat often used by abusers to maintain control.

 

§Interviewing adult victims separately from their abusers can be difficult and sometimes impossible.  Creativity is usually necessary in designing these interventions (e.g. meeting the adult victim at his/her office, coffee shops, park, etc.).  However, being unable to talk to an adult victim alone may be a signal of danger and related to the level of control the abuser has over the family.  As caseworker, you should consult with your supervisor before your proceed further with gathering information from the family.  The local CPS/DV liaison team may be called in on consultation to brainstorm options available to you and the family.  If an interview is done with both parents it is important to note that fact in the record since the information you receive may be inaccurate or incomplete.

 

§Assure the adult victim that you are concerned about his/her safety as well as her children’s safety.

 

§Explain the limits of confidentiality regarding the children and legal mandates.

 

§Assure the adult victim that you will not confront the alleged abuser with information shared regarding abuse or violence in the family without first discussing it with the adult victim.  Ask him/her if there is specific information that could increase the level of danger to the adult victim or the children should it be revealed to the abuser; does s/he have suggestions how to talk with the abuser safely.

 

Adult victim’s history of help seeking or signs of safety:

 

§In cases with domestic violence, it is particularly important to assess protective factors (signs of safety) and other resources available to the clients in order to determine the most appropriate interventions and service plans.  An adult victim’s behaviors must be evaluated in light of how s/he is protective of the children.  While personal resources vary greatly among victims of domestic violence, adult victims have developed many survival skills and most have taken many actions to protect children.  

 

§Information can be gathered about the resources of the victim, the children, the community and the perpetrator. However, a note of caution: when assessing protective factors, it is more important to gather this information from the adult victim and the advocate than from the perpetrator.  Too often offenders will distort this information in order to avoid responsibility for their conduct.  Most often they blame victims for what has happened and will use CPS as a way to try to gain further control of the adult victim.  Remember to record in the assessment the source of the information.  

 

§Never blame victims for unsuccessful attempts to obtain assistance.  Instead, refer them to domestic violence agencies who advocate on behalf of clients with the appropriate institutions.  Because a positive help-seeking experience rebuilds hope and trust, the caseworker may need to work with the systems as well as the client to ensure the best client outcomes.  

 

§In assessing a case in which domestic abuse/violence is identified, it is important to understand the protective factors and capability of non-abusing partner/caretaker.  Identifying the adult victim as "failing to protect" without exploring or evaluating these protective behaviors or signs of safety may interfere with your ability to work with the adult victim to protect the child within the family.  The "failure to protect" label also continues to reinforce the adult victim’s belief that s/he has not control in any part of his/her life.  The adult victim’s actions or failure to act on behalf of the children must be viewed within the context of family violence.  

 

§While is it important to acknowledge that a parent is legally responsible for protecting children from the abusive behaviors of others, it is equally important to understand that early, appropriate intervention may allow the child(ren) to remain safely with a parent.

 

Once the adult victim’s interview is complete you should have an understanding of the power structure within the family.  If there is extreme danger for the adult victim, and his/her children have learned to survive by identifying with the abuser (i.e., cannot keep confidentiality from the abuser), then direct questioning of children should be completed in a way that assures safety for all family members.  This same thinking applies to interviewing abusers.   Questioning of abusers should be done in such a way as to assure safety.

 

Because they fear retaliation or have had prior negative experiences with authorities, some domestic abuse/violence victims may appear hostile or distrustful when invited to talk about their situation.  Be prepared to deal with this reaction.

 

Remain non-judgmental and supportive.  Your tone of voice can convey a lot to a client.  Believe the adult victim when he/she tells you he/she is in danger.  Never minimize the seriousness of the problem.  A supportive approach can help elicit accurate information.

 

See Appendix for suggested questions when interviewing adult victims of domestic violence.  Interview questions should not be limited to assessing direct violence but should include emotional, psychological and sexual abuse as well.  Caseworkers should assess for all elements of the relationship including the abuser’s controlling behaviors, the amount of freedom the adult victim has to act independently, and the presence and nature of fear in the relationship.  

 

Assessment of abuser lethality:

Although all abusers are potentially lethal, some are more likely to be highly dangerous.  The typical abuser blames his/her partner and/or other systems and attempts to excuse or deny his/her behavior, but some have empathy for their partners and may eventually admit to violent and coercive behaviors.  Assessing lethality is not merely trying to predict whether or not the abuser will seriously harm or kill the victim(s).  It also requires assessing the abuser’s risk of committing life threatening behaviors against others, including children and those attempting to intervene with the family.

 

1.Gather information from:
 the abuser
 the victim
 the children
 other family members
 criminal justice system – local, state law enforcement, courts, etc.
 others (counselors, batterer intervention program, friends, anyone having contact with the family)

 

2.Factors to consider in making assessment of lethality*:

* Developed by Anne L. Ganley, Ph.D. Family Violence Prevention Fund’s publication entitled, "Domestic Violence:  A National Curriculum for Children’s Protective Services", by Anne L. Ganley, Ph.D. and Susan Schechter, MSW, 1996.

a.Abuser’s access to the victim
b.Pattern of the abuser’s violence/abuse
 frequency/severity of abuse in current, concurrent and past relationships
 use, presence or threats of weapons
 threats to kill (self, victim, children, family members)
 hostage taking (or "not allowing her to leave")
 stalking
 past criminal record
 violence toward partner in public

 

c.Abuser’s state of mind
 obsession with victim; jealousy
 ignoring negative consequences of his violence
 Some abusers will continue abusive or violent behavior even if under the scrutiny of the Department, out on bail with conditions, or on probation.  These abusers are not restrained by external authority; they believe they are above the law or they simply do not care.
 depression
 desperation

 

d.Individual factors that reduce behavioral controls of either abuser or victim
 substance abuse
 certain medications
 psychosis, other major mental illnesses
 brain damage or injury, etc.

 

e.Suicidality of victim, children, or abuser
f.Adult victim’s use of physical force
g.Children’s use of violence
h.Situational factors
1)separation violence/victim autonomy
2)presence of other major stresses

 

i.Past failures of systems to respond appropriately

 

If an abuser displays even a few of the above indicators it is important to share the information with the victim and your concerns for his/her safety.  His/her safety plan may have to be revised.

 

Assessing the lethality of abusers is important in order to protect yourself and to lessen the risk for children and their non-abusing caregivers.  Lessening the risk for you and for an adult victim and his/her children will mean safety planning.  If you obtain information that indicates an interview with the abuser is too dangerous (for you or any family members), consult with your supervisor, domestic abuse specialist or batterer intervention specialist before you proceed.  The need for collaboration with law enforcement should be discussed with your supervisor at this time.  If there is evidence that a crime has been committed (i.e. assault on the adult victim or children) it is necessary to make a referral to the District Attorney’s office.  Coordination with law enforcement for the interview of the abuser may be indicated for your own and the family’s safety, to eliminate unnecessary duplication of effort and to promote proper and expeditious collection and preservation of evidence.  Law enforcement has the ability to make arrests when appropriate and to present the criminal case that will ultimately hold the abuser accountable for his/her actions.

 

If, in consultation with your supervisor, you decide not to interview the abuser, as it is not in the best interest of the child, document your reasons in the case record.  

 

Interviewing the abuser:

If you determine from your interview of the adult/victim and/or children that the abuser can be safely interviewed, proceed with the following line of questioning to determine the abuser’s perception of the problem, keeping in mind the appropriateness of law enforcement collaboration.

 

Engage the alleged abuser in an interview that is respectful and structured. Communicating with genuineness and respect can lower the alleged abuser’s defensiveness and encourage him or her to provide important information about the violence. In addition, the caseworker should clearly communicate the goals and format of the assessment. This will help focus the interview as well as convey that the caseworker is in charge of the process. Do not confront the abuser with information provided by a victim. While caseworkers can sometimes use police reports or other agency reports about the violence in the interviews with abusers, do not use any information from a victim’s statements unless you are certain it will not compromise the victims or the children’s safety.  If an identified abuser denies domestic violence, do not try to force disclosure, but move on to other subjects.  Angry confrontations with the abuser often result in retaliation against the child or adult victims.  The caseworker does not need the perpetrator’s disclosure to confirm that abuse/violence occurred.  Such confirmation comes from adult and child victim statements, caseworker observations, and other agency reports.  If the abuser reveals information that indicates imminent danger or harm to a known victim, then the caseworker is in a duty-to-warn situation; the adult victim and appropriate authorities must be notified.  The caseworker should notify their supervisors and follow the Department’s policies and procedures.  

 

See appendix for suggested general questions when interviewing the abuser.

 

SAFETY PLANNING

When the assessment reveals at least one sign of danger safety planning becomes necessary.  It is important to involve the adult victim in developing the safety plan.  Some specific considerations for safety planning with adult victims of domestic violence include:

 A full discussion of the options available to the adult victim to keep him or her and the children safe, including what has been tried before and the risks and benefits associated with each option.
 Helping the adult victim connect with a family violence advocate to assist with and support safety planning.
 Helping the adult victim identify and gather important documents and personal items that will be necessary for relocation of the victim and children.
 Informing informal and formal supports of the situation and any protection orders in effect.

 

Case Decisions:

Depending on the results of the domestic violence assessment, the caseworker should consider the following actions:

1.Determine findings of child abuse and/or neglect and consult with supervisor to determine the overall level of safety for the children and adult victim regarding domestic violence/abuse.  Take appropriate action based on your findings. In determining findings of child abuse/neglect where domestic violence is present it is important to focus on the impact on the child. The presence of domestic violence alone may not constitute child maltreatment. Findings of child abuse/neglect must be based upon evidence of harm or active threat of harm to the children.

 

2.When the Office of Child & Family Services finds domestic violence present in a family, the adult victim of the batterer/adult abuser will not be found to have abused or neglected the children based solely on his/her presence in the home or relationship.  All actions or inactions by the adult abuser will be "indicated" or "substantiated" as called for by the level of severity of the abuse.

 

3.The family participant found to be in the role of batterer/adult abuser or batterer shall be held accountable for his/her actions that have resulted in child abuse and or neglect.  

 

4.An exception is that the actions or inactions of the adult victim of the batterer/adult abuser shall be found to be substantiated when the actions or inactions have caused abuse or neglect at a high level of severity, which requires a petition for a Child Protective Order of DHHS custody to protect a child from jeopardy or immediate risk (threat/of serious harm due to child abuse or neglect.  If it is necessary to order a child into DHHS custody, a judge must make findings regarding jeopardy to the child(ren) with respect to each parent.

 

5.If the adult victim appears so severely traumatized that his/her ability to assess danger to him/herself and his/her children is impaired:
a.Reinforce that the abuse and violence is not his or her fault and that he/she does not deserve to be treated this way, and neither do the children, and,
b.Work with adult victim to help him/her see a more accurate picture of the danger in his/her home, and
c.Determine what he/she feels would help.  Explore options available to him/her and offer the services that give that help or refer to the proper community resource.

 

6.If the adult victim is openly asking for help move immediately to safety planning.  Validate and acknowledge his/her strengths and, again, offer support services available in the community.  Assist him/her in making contact with these services.

 

7. If the adult victim appears uncooperative or resistant:
a.Reiterate your concern for his/her safety and the safety of the children.  Continue to provide information about options and services available to him/her;
b.Determine if there are any of the services/options he/she is willing to take advantage of and,
c.If appropriate, inform the adult victim in advance of any actions the Department plans to take if this would increase risk of harm to the family (review safety plan with adult victim);
d.Consult with your supervisor, local domestic abuse specialist and/or batterer intervention program specialist for guidance and support.

 

Documentation and disclosure:

The documentation and disclosure of domestic abuse may dramatically increase risk for adult victims and children.  The following guidelines may help to reduce risk when information must be shared.

 Any information in the case record pertaining to a confidential address of an adult victim must be protected (e.g., shelter, or relocation to new housing).
 Any disclosures made by an adult victim or her children regarding their safety plan must not be shared with the abuser.
 When information must be shared, such has in court proceedings, adult victims must be notified so that they may plan for their safety, where appropriate.  In court proceedings, consult with your AAG to see if such information can be withheld.
 When disclosure of domestic violence is made during child protection proceedings, attorneys and the Assistant Attorney General representing the Department may want to privately share with the judge the possible consequences of such disclosure.
 All documentation of domestic violence, e.g., affidavits, should be written in a manner that holds the abuser responsible.
 Safety of adult victims and children must be considered when planning case transfers (e.g., notifying abuser of adult victim’s and child’s whereabouts is dangerous).

 

Service Planning Activities:

The primary goal of service planning with adult victims and their children is to promote enhanced protection for victims and to have abusers take responsibility for their own behavioral change.  If you determine that domestic abuse/violence has put the adult victim or child at risk, action should be taken in cooperation with law enforcement to hold the offender accountable.  It is the child welfare caseworkers responsibility to assist (provide phone numbers, information, etc.) the adult victim in obtaining appropriate services.  Services for victims and abuser should be offered even if the adult victim chooses to remain with the abuser.  Request, where appropriate, collateral information from hospitals, shelter, batterer intervention programs, counselors, etc.  You will need releases of information to obtain some of this information. It is imperative that information about safety plans for the adult victim and children NOT be shared with the abuser.

Service plans for adult victims and children may include:

 Parent will participate in safety planning for self and children;
 Parent will participate in supportive counseling for self and children to ameliorate the negative effects of domestic abuse;
 Parent will participate in educating him/herself regarding the effects of domestic abuse on children;
 Children will have a safety plan that is consistent with their age and development.

 

Services may include:

 Individual/group counseling through domestic abuse project/or other community services
 Criminal and/or civil remedies
 Police intervention
 Legal services
 Housing Welfare advocacy
 Emergency shelter (consider family, friends, etc.)
 Transitional living services
 Visitation center services
 Parent support groups
 Children’s support groups
 Substance abuse services

 

Service plan tasks for abusers may include:

 Leaving the home (consider friends, family, homeless shelter, hotel, etc.)
 Abuser will participate in an evaluation and certified batterer intervention program and follow all recommendations; the abuser will be required to attend, complete and pay for the program.
 Abuser will not behave in a manner that is verbally, emotionally, sexually, or physically abusive toward partner and/or children.
 Abuser will not involve the children in attempts to control his/her partner or force them to witness or participate in other abusive behaviors.
 Abuser will be educated regarding the effects of domestic violence on children.
 Abuser will follow all conditions of court orders and probation.

 

Services may include:

 Batterer Intervention Programs certified by the Department of Corrections (The DOC role and responsibility for certification of Batterer Intervention Programs is specified in MRSA Title 19-A, Chapter 101, section 4104)’
 Substance abuse services;
 Visitation center services;
 Specialized assessment services focusing on issues of family violence; and
 Cooperation with police, probation when involved.

 

Caseworkers shall not refer abusers or other family members to services/interventions that are not appropriate in cases involving domestic violence such as:

 Options for protection for adult victims that in adult victim’s estimation increase the level of danger;
 Couples or family therapy;
 Court mediation/divorce mediation;
 Anger management groups and other non-certified batterer/abuser intervention and education groups.
 Visitation arrangements that endanger adult victims and/or children.

 

APPENDIX 1

This appendix contains:

1.Suggested questions when interviewing children exposed to domestic violence.
a.Questions to elicit child’s account of what he/she saw.
b.Questions to assess impact on child of exposure to violence.
c.Questions to assess child’s worries about safety.

 

2.Suggested questions when interviewing adult victims of domestic violence.

General questions.

a.Questions to assess the forms of domestic abuse.
b.Questions to asses the level of risk or danger to children.
c.Questions to assess protective factors or signs of safety.

 

3.Suggested general questions when interviewing the abuser

 

1)Suggested questions when interviewing children exposed to domestic violence.

(Adapted from materials written by the Child Witness to Violence Program.  Boston City Hospital)

 

a.Questions to elicit child’s account of what s/he saw:

Worker:  Sometimes when parents fight they get angry.  Sometimes this is scary for children.  I want to ask you a few questions about when your parents fight and what you think about it.

Note:  Older children are more likely to minimize reports of parental fighting out of loyalty to parents – they will protect parents.

Younger children may be more spontaneous and less guarded with their parents.

 

Questions:

 What kinds of things do Mom & Dad (boyfriend, partner)fight about?
 What happens when they fight?
 What do you do when this is going on?
 What do you think about when this is happening?
 Do you ever get hit or hurt when Mom & Dad are fighting?

 

b.Questions to assess of impact of exposure to violence:
 Do you find that you think about your parents fighting a lot?
 When you think about it?
 What do you think about?
 Do these thoughts ever come in school or while you are playing?
 Do you ever have trouble sleeping at night? How come? Do you have nightmares?
 Why do you think Mom and Dad (boyfriend, partner) fight so much?
 What would you like them to do to make it better?

 

c.Questions to assess child’s worries about safety:

 

 What do you do when Mom and Dad (boyfriend, partner) are fighting?
§Caseworker – do not ask these check list items specifically but rather look for these responses in your interview with the child(ren).
 Has anyone ever stopped you from doing any of the above?
 When Mom and Dad are fighting, what do you worry about the most?
 Have you talked to any other grown-ups about this problem?  What happened?
 In an emergency, who would you call?
§Their phone number is: ____________________
§What would you say:  ______________________
§Where would you go if you had to leave the house/apartment: ___________________________
 What questions do you have?

 

If children don’t have some idea of who to call, the caseworker should give them basic information or help the adult victim think where children could go if their parents are fighting or engaged in assaultive behavior.

 

 

2)Suggested questions when interviewing adult victims of domestic violence:
a.General questions:
 Tell me about your relationship.  What is good about it and what is not so good about it?
 How do decisions about things such as discipline or money get made?
 How does your partner act when you are with others of the opposite sex or with your friends?
 Do you have family or friends you can talk to about problems?
 Have you ever felt afraid of your partner?  In what ways?
 Is there any use of physical force in your home?  If yes, tell me more about that.  (caseworker, look for responses such as s/he was pushed, pulled, slapped, punched or kicked).
 Do you ever worry about the safety of your children?  If yes, tell me more about that.

 

b.Questions to assess the forms of domestic abuse:

Exploring the following areas will help you identify the abuser’s controlling behaviors and the amount of freedom an adult victim has to act independently.  These questions are areas to explore and not intended to be direct questions unless you deem it is appropriate to ask directly.

 

Has your partner:

 Taken your money? Prevented you from going to work/school/church?
 Prevented you from seeing friends or family?
 Listened in on your phone calls or violated your privacy in other ways?
 Followed you?
 Accused you of being unfaithful?
 Acted jealous?
 Controlled your money?
 Called you degrading names?
 Emotionally insulted you?
 Humiliated you at home? In public?
 Destroyed your possessions (e.g., clothes, photographs)?
 Broken furniture?
 Pulled the telephone?
 Threatened to injure you, him, your children, or other family members?
 Hit, slapped, pushed, kicked, choked, or burned you?
 Threatened to use a weapon or used a weapon?
 Threatened to kill you?
 Hurt your pets?
 Engaged in reckless behavior (e.g., drove too fast with you and the kids in the car)?
 Behaved violently in public?
 Been arrested for violent crimes?
 Have prior arrests or convictions for violence toward you or others of your sex?
 Sought a protection order against you?
 Sought a protection order to gain custody of the children?
 Forced you to perform sexual acts that make you feel uncomfortable?
 Prevented you from using birth control?
 Hurt you during pregnancy?
 Forced you to engage in prostitution or pornography?
 Forced you to use drugs?

 

General questions:

 How dangerous do you think your partner is?
 What do you think s/he’s capable of?

 

c.Questions to assess the level of risk or danger to children

Has your partner:

 Called you degrading names in front of the children or told the children to call you degrading names (e.g., stupid, bitch, crazy)?
 Called the children degrading names?
 Threatened to take the child(ren) from your care?
 Called or threatened to call DHHS?
 Accused you of being an unfit parent?
 Threatened to hurt or kill your child?
 Hurt you in front of the children?
 Hit your child with belts, straps or other objects?
 Touched your child in a way that made you feel uncomfortable?
 Assaulted you while you were holding your child?
 Asked your child to tell him what you do during the day?
 Treated one child significantly differently from another?
 Forced your children to participate in or watch his abuse of you?

 

Has your child:

 Witnessed violence/abuse in the home?
 Overheard the yelling and/or violence?
 Behaved in ways that remind you of your partner?
 Physically hurt you or other family members?
 Tried to protect you?
 Tried to stop the violence?
 Hurt him/her?
 Hurt pets?
 Been fearful of leaving you alone?
 Exhibited physical/emotional/behavioral problems at home/school/day care?

 

Protective factors or signs of safety:

Has the adult victim:

 Told anyone about the abuse?  What happened?
 Seen a counselor?  What happened?
 Left home as a result of the abuse?  Where did you go? Did you take the children?  If not, why?
 Called the police?  What happened?
 Pressed criminal charges?  What happened?
 Filed a restraining order?  What happened (e.g. did your partner respect the order)?
 Used a battered women’s group or shelter? Was it helpful?

 

3)General questions when interviewing the abuser:
 Tell me about your relationship.
 Tell me three things you like about your partner and family.
 How does your family handle conflict?
 What kinds of things do you expect from your partner/family?
 What do you do when you don’t get your own way?
 Have you ever physically hurt someone?
 Have you ever forcefully touched anyone in your family?  In what way?
 Have you ever been told that anger or violence is a problem for you?  By whom?