WORKING WITH BATTERED WOMEN: A Handbook for Health Care Professionals


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IV. SAFETY PLANNING/PROTECTION


Assessing Her Safety:

As a medical professional, your most pressing concern is to deal with the woman's safety. After her injuries have been attended to, you must assist her in planning for her physical and emotional safety once she leaves your office or hospital (see Interviewer's Checklist, Appendix A).

Her options may include:

  • returning home to the male partner (Try to get her to make a follow up appointment with you so you can check on her.)
  • staying with a friend or relatives
  • staying at a hotel/motel/YWCA residence
  • staying at a shelter for battered women
  • shelter information and access at a later date
  • access to counselling
  • referral to police

Assessing Her Risk:

In deciding whether or not to return home, the woman has to determine whether she is at risk if she does return. You may wish to ask a few questions to assist her in assessing her current level of danger:

Questions to Assess Risk:

  • does her partner have access to a weapon?
  • has he assaulted her or threatened her with weapons in the past?
  • has he assaulted or threatened to assault her children, or others?
  • have they recently discussed separating?
  • has he been extremely jealous or made accusation of infidelity?
  • has he been expressing less and less remorse after each violent incident?

If she answers yes to any of these questions, she is likely at increased risk of physical assault or even murder.

If you believe a woman is at risk or danger if she returns home, you should tell her so honestly. However, battered women are in the best position to assess their levels of danger, so if she decides to return home after discussing this issue with you, you must respect her decision. Intervention should be aimed not at making decisions for her, but at facilitating her ability to think through alternatives and seek an acceptable course of action for herself.


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