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Helping Clients Who Are Being Abused: Assessing danger
- Start from the assumption that an abuser is dangerous. If he has tried to kill her in the past, he is likely to do so again.
- Ask in detail about the risks she faces. This tells her that you take her safety seriously. Use risk assessment to guide discussions about safety planning around the specific risks identified.
- Try to help your client identify the circumstances under which her partner typically becomes violent.
- Trust your client’s judgment. Don’t ask her to substitute your judgment for her own. If she believes her partner could seriously injure or kill her or her children, try to understand why she thinks so, even if you yourself don’t share her assessment of the risk. If she seems not to perceive danger which looks real to you, explore why not. She may be missing some cues of danger or minimizing her partner’s violence because he demands that she do so.
- Ask how her perception of danger has changed over time, and whether anything has happened recently that changes her assessment.