Families and Domestic Violence

Module Sections:

Developing a Safety Plan

This is some information that can be helpful for the HBFT to address safety issues with the family and in the home.

Family Safety Plan

As an HBFT, you have a responsibility to work with the victim and to develop a safety plan.

  • Provide the family with all of the necessary information they need to be safe in their home
  • Make sure the family knows what to do at each phase of the cycle:
    • Before the violence
    • During the violence
    • When preparing to leave and what to take with them when leaving.

The Personalized Safety Plan from Creative Communications Group (2007) and Domestic Violence Safety Tips and a Spanish version of the domestic violence safety tips Consejos de Seguridad en situaciones de Violencia Domestica from American Bar Association (2007) will help you in assisting the family develop a safety plan. (A link to the Safety Plan and Safety Tips can be found in the resources section at the bottom of this page)

Safety Plan for the Therapist

As a home-based therapist, you may encounter a situation that puts you in danger, especially when working with couples experiencing domestic violence. According to Rey (1996), client violence against social workers has increased. In Rey’s (1996) study of the level of violence social workers experience at work, 23% of them had been physically assaulted by a client during his/her career. In another study conducted by Newhill (1996), the author evaluated the prevalence, nature, impact, and risk factors associated with client violence toward social workers. Seventy-eight percent of participants in Newhill’s (1996) study felt that client violence was an important issue for the profession and fifty-two percent worried about their own safety while working with clients. Eighty-three percent of the social workers had been threatened by a client and 40% had experienced an attempted or actual physical attack (Newhill, 1996).

With that being said, we feel that it is critical for you to stay safe as a clinician working with domestic abuse clients in the home. Below is a table listing the Eight Stages of Escalation (Phily Loss of Control Services, 2006). To help elaborate on the eight stages, we have incorporated de-escalation tips from Brasic & Fogelman (1999) article on Clinician Safety. You will find the eight stages with de-escalation tips on the following page.

Audio Companion: Families and Domestic Violence