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Home Visitor Reference Sheet

Questions to ask family members experiencing domestic violence

  • What is the biggest worry or first priority for the survivor?
  • What does the survivor want and need?
  • What do the children know and what do they think?
  • What supports her parenting relationship with her child?
  • Who or what provides the survivor with support? (i.e. people in her life, a place to go, people in her children’s lives)
  • How are decisions made around birth control or when to get pregnant (or not)?
  • Do you feel like you can say ‘no’ to sexual activity and have your partner respect your decision?
  • What has worked in the past to help her meet her goals?
  • What strategies is she using now to help her get what she needs?
  • What has worked in the past to protect her children; to keep them all safer?
  • If she is thinking about leaving, what else is going on in her life that would make it hard for her and her kids to be safer or even thrive? (public transportation, safe affordable housing, jobs? concern about stalk, or threats?)
  • What are the ways or how does the abusive person undermine the survivor’s plans or actions?
  • How does the abusive person undermine the survivor’s parenting? How are the children impacted?

Questions to ask yourself to reflect on your practice

  • Am I fully present and listening to the survivor?
  • Am I supporting the autonomy of the survivor?
  • Are my suggestions protecting or compromising the confidentiality of the survivor?
  • Am I struggling because I don’t like the survivor’s choices or decisions?
  • Have I thought about barriers a survivor faces depending on her social status? (i.e. immigration concerns, language barriers, economic concerns, racial or ethnic discrimination, living with a disability)
  • Am I comfortable letting her know that I am someone she can talk to about her relationship and unwanted sexual activity?
  • Have you explored how past abuse (i.e. child sexual abuse, sexual assault, abuse by a partner) may be affecting her current relationship or the ways she wants to parent?
  • Did I validate her experiences and thank her for sharing with me?
  • Did I give her the safety card? Did I go over it with her?
  • Have I shared information about domestic violence/sexual assault advocacy programs?