Responding to a disclosure

interviewPeople working in all sorts of different jobs might become aware that a person they are dealing with is experiencing domestic abuse. There follows some general advice on how to deal with a disclosure sensitively and effectively.

  • Always believe what you are being told. Many victims only tell you a small amount of what's been happening.
  • Reassure her / him of confidentiality - if you need to find out additional information from other organisations ensure that you gain consent. Many people experiencing abuse are terrified that what they tell you will get back to their partner. 
  • Don't criticise the victim's partner - this can make some people go into defence mode of their partner. Often people still love their partner and want the abuse to end rather than the relationship. 
  • Give priority to the safety of the victim. Statistics show that for the first few months after a person leaves they are more at risk of serious injury / death than when they were in the relationship. 
  • Listen to what the individual wants. For some people, safety concerns are paramount and they may need to leave immediately. For other people, they might want help thinking about their options. Either way, ensure that the individual’s choice is respected. 
  • Be open about what you will do if you have concerns for children living in the household. 
  • Get advice from a specialist agency like Harbour. Most agencies will be happy to give you advice in confidence.
  • Wherever possible ensure that your organisation invests in providing in-depth domestic abuse training to at least one member of staff who can then act as a link worker with the specialist agency. 
  • Where you are dealing with a 'high risk' case of domestic violence, you should contact a specialist service unless you have received training on how to refer such cases into the Multi Agency Risk Assessment Conference (MARAC).