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Domestic Violence: Speaking
Speaking with a Victim of Domestic Violence
These are each very different situations requiring separate approaches.
When domestic violence is suspected or known, interview the adult victim first. Do not ask about the abuse in the presence of the perpetrator. This could force her into a compromising position that may increase the risk of harm for both the abused parent and children. Hold the interview in a safe, private, and comfortable setting. Affirm to the victim she does not deserve to be abused and that the abuse is not her fault. Express concerns for her safety and the safety of her children.
An unusual element of co-occurrence cases is how the information acquired and subsequently used from children can directly relate to the safety and well-being of their battered parent. Information revealed by a child regarding intimate partner violence must be shared very carefully to reduce placing the child or victimized parent at further risk of harm or jeopardize any progress that has been made in a case thus far. Here are some tips for interviews with children coming from homes where there has been domestic violence:
with a Battering Partner
Do not reveal any information about the adult or child’s safety plan. Similar to the interview conducted with the victim, ask about other issues before inquiring about domestic violence. Begin with more general questions then follow up with more specific and detailed ones.
Consider not interviewing the alleged perpetrator if it poses a substantial risk to the adult victim or child, or yourself.
The battering partner may not be the biological parent of the children who are the subject of the abuse/neglect accusations. In that situation, a court may have difficulty holding him accountable for his battering through the child abuse and neglect case, especially if the domestic violence was unrelated to the reasons a petition was filed by the Department of Children and Family Services (or equivalent). However, he still can remain a part of the family’s life and attention should be paid to what he is doing.
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