Domestic violence: reinforcing protection strategies

MdM, Regional workshop on providing care and support to women victims
of violence, Latin America/ Caribbean, 18 – 21 November 2008.

Evelyne Josse, 2008

1) Evaluate the seriousness of the situation

– Victim’s level of anxiety / fear / aggressiveness;
– Victim’s own evaluation of how serious the situation is;
– Psychological disorders / psychiatric antecedents (either of the victim or the aggressor);
– Current and previous physical injuries (injured victim);
– An increase in the frequency of violence, escalation in frequency and / or intensity;
– Weapon kept at home;
– Death threats or threats involving weapons (firearms, blades) or objects;
– Preparatory rituals or scenarios leading up to the assault;
– Levels of support provided to the victim;
– Husband showing indifference;
– Police / courts / support services are aware of the situation;
– The victim’s socioeconomic status;
– Substantial deterioration of the interior of the home (furniture, walls, set fire to, etc);
– Antecedents: victim / aggressor;
– Use (abuse) of drugs / alcohol;
– A disregard for the information provided;
– High pressure situation – submission;
– Suicide risk for victim (attempts);
– Violence towards other family members (in particular children);
– Indifference surrounding other people’s suffering;
– Violence outside the conjugal home
(on the road, towards neighbours, at work, etc.).

To evaluate the level of danger involved ask the victim what her greatest fear is.

2) Suggesting a safety plan

1. Evaluate the seriousness of the situation (both for the victim and those around her);

2. Identify the victim’s personal resilience, her wishes and her ability to react;

3. Identify those able to support the victim (friends, neighbours, organisations)

4. Based on the above elements, put together a safety plan for the victim
– Find and prepare a list of useful numbers;
– Identify possible refuges / accommodation;
– Tell trusted neighbours (if possible);
– Identify organisations who work with female victims of violence;
– Tell the children what they need to do;
– Put a code in place with family and friends (and the children) in case of danger;
– Make sure that the stages of violence are identified: the signs and causes of violence (leave the house, comply, go to a room without weapons in it where there is an escape route);
– Get some money together and an emergency overnight bag

5. Immediate action: once the victim leaves the house, she must contact the police to ensure that she is safe (police), that she has resources to live on and that she has psychological support.

6. In the medium term: make arrangements for the victim’s psychological care

It is equally important to ensure the safety of the person who came with the victim of violence.