WORKING WITH BATTERED WOMEN: A Handbook for Health Care Professionals

Table of Contents


Other Ways To Ask About Abuse

Ways to ask about abuse when screening for abuse OR when there are no obvious injuries:

  • From my experience here in the emergency department, I know that abuse and violence at home is a problem for many women. Is it a problem for you in any way?
  • We know that abuse and violence in the home affect many women and that this directly affects their health. I wonder if you ever experience abuse or violence at home?
  • Have you ever felt unsafe or threatened in your own home?

Ways to ask about abuse when there are physical signs of abuse:

  • Has anyone hurt you?
  • The injuries you have suggest to me that someone hit you. Is that possible?
  • Who hit you?
  • In my experience, women often get these kinds of injuries when someone hits them in some way. Did someone hit you?
  • It seems that the injuries you have could have been caused by someone hurting or abusing you? Did someone hurt you?

Ways to ask about emotional abuse:

  • Does someone call you names? Or try to control what you do?
  • Does anyone you are close to criticize your friends or family?
  • Often, when a woman feels suicidal as you so, it means she is being abused at home. Is this happening to you?

It is important to be sensitive to the woman's experience, particularly her isolation and fear for her personal safety. It is never helpful to make light of the situation or to ask questions such as "what did you do to make it happen?"

Asking about sexual abuse is important but may be very distressing for the patient. Therefore, it is usually best to wait until rapport has been established before asking about this type of abuse.

Ways to ask about sexual abuse in the relationship:

  • Have you ever been forced to have sex with your partner when you didn't want to?
  • Has your partner ever forced you to take part in sexual acts you didn't feel good about?


Table of Contents

maintained by AiR (Sask, Canada)