Ask the question…
“I am a concerned about the chronic headaches you have been suffering and realized that we have never talked about any experiences you may have had with abuse. Women so often experience physical, sexual, or emotional abuse in their relationships, which can lead to negative health experiences for women and their children. Have you ever experienced any form of abuse in your current or previous relationships?”
What if she says YES
What If she says NO
1. Validate her disclosure by communicating messages of support, such as:
Remember, while a disclosure may occur, women may be at different stages of their readiness to accept help and/or leave the abusive situation. Whatever the decision, you need to offer your acceptance and support.
1. Accept her response…she may not feel safe or ready to disclose OR “No” could mean “No”.2. Use the opportunity to communicate general information about abuse, such as:
3. Document verbal response and any signs of abuse that are suspect, if present.
4. Repeat to patient that woman abuse is now a part of your health assessments and that in about a year, you will ‘check in’ again, as situations can sometimes change.5. Leave resources out in the open, should she want to take pamphlets or other resources available.
Remember, even if abuse is suspected, health care professionals should not have any expectations. The goal is not higher disclosures, but more routine screening of woman for abuse. When ready, women will disclose.
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