Take all discussions of fear and safety seriously and ensure that there is a safe and private area where you can discuss safety options with the person.
- Calling for help: Explore whether the person has any safety strategies that have worked in the past. For help with questions about safety, call a local domestic violence advocacy agency or the National Domestic Violence Hotline 1-800-799-SAFE (7233). Click here for a list of other referral resources. If the person wants to call a local advocacy agency or the Hotline, offer the use of a phone in a place where the person can speak privately. You might also offer the use of a phone to contact friends, family, or other sources of assistance.
- If the person does not want to contact a local agency or the Hotline, ask if he or she would like you to call on his or her behalf, without disclosing any identifying information. Local programs and the Hotline should be able to walk you through some basic safety strategies. Assure the person that the Hotline is confidential and that you will not disclose any personal information. You should honor the person’s decision not to call for help, unless there is an imminent threat to the person or others from a perpetrator on the premises. In that case, call 9-1-1.
Even if the person does not want to make a call for help, you can provide written information about domestic violence, sexual assault or stalking, as well as information about local domestic violence advocacy agencies and the National Domestic Violence Hotline. Local agencies and the Hotline should be able to supply written information free of charge. You can either give this information directly to the person, or make it available in places where people can take it discreetly, such as restrooms.
- Explore what the person will do with any paperwork or written information that she/he is taking home, especially if she/he still lives with the abuse perpetrator.
- Consider what the person will do when she/he leaves your office and where she/he will go. Explore safety options for the rest of the day. Ask questions like: “What is your mode of transportation and is it safe? Where is your car parked? Do you have a safe place to spend the night?”