If there is any indication or suspicion that abuse is occurring, a safety assessment should be done to evaluate if the woman is in any immediate danger and if she feels it is safe to go home.
Evaluation of Safety – Contact:
o Local DV program (Hotlines) or
o Hospital Social Work Department or
o Hospital-based DV program
Encourage your patient to speak with an advocate or social worker before she leaves the facility. They can help determine the need for safety planning and can provide information about local resources.
Common Risk Factors for severe abuse/increased lethality:
o Batterer has a weapon
o Escalation of violence
o Gun in the home
o Substance abuse
o History of strangulation
o Jealous violent rages
o Abuse during pregnancy
o Suicidal ideation
The safety assessment may be done by the provider, if the provider feels comfortable. A five question safety assessment screen is on the sample IPV assessment tool.
Safety Planning - This includes steps to take if the victim were to leave her abusive situation:
identification of places she could go if she were in imminent danger,
making copies of important personal and family documents (driver’s license, passport, pay stubs, birth certificates, health records),
noting her social security, bank account and credit card numbers,
preparing clothes, car keys, and other items for a “quick escape”.
The “Lethality Assessment Program (LAP)–Maryland Model” is a copyrighted series of questions to help identify women at high risk of serious injury or being killed. LAP has been used mostly by law enforcement and first responders to immediately connect women at high risk with a local DV provider. Learn more at https://mnadv.org/?s=lethality