Once you have established that there is an abusive situation, refer the patient to appropriately trained support services.
- If you are a hospital based provider, contact your Social Work Department or the hospital based domestic violence program, if you have one.
- If you are a community-based provider, allow the patient to use a phone privately to talk to the local DV program.
It can take a patient an enormous amount of courage to disclose abuse and it is very important that even the busiest provider offers support and validation. This can be as simple as saying:
“I am sorry this is happening to you and nobody deserves to be treated that way. Unfortunately this happens to a lot of my patients and it can impact your health. Also, I can connect you right here with someone who has helped a lot of women before if you would like to talk to her now.”
There is more to referral than just handing a patient a phone number. By offering support to facilitate the referral process, providers can increase the likelihood that a patient follows through with a referral. Two strategies are helpful:
- Offering a patient the use of a phone at the clinic to call an advocate or a DV hotline can be a safer strategy. Abusive partners often monitor phones and text messages, so it is important to offer the use of a private phone in the clinic to a patient so she can make the call to a shelter or advocacy program without the number being traced by her partner.
Get to know the resources in your area and what they offer, what languages they speak, what services they offer, how to get there by bus or car or if they have transportation services etc. Getting to know the names of staff there also help you make a more effective referral.
“I want you to know that on the back of this safety card there are national hotline numbers with folks who are available 24/7 if you want to talk. They can connect you to local services if you need more urgent help. Also, I know (insert; name of local advocate) who I can put you on the phone with right now if you would like to talk to her.”