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  Booklet Contents


Loudspeakerbehavioural indicators of abuse

Along with the physical and psychological signs of abuse there may be other indicators that a woman is experiencing domestic violence: 

  • The woman appears evasive/embarrassed/nervous or ashamed.

  • She may be in denial of the abuse.

  • The injuries are present on areas of the body usually covered by clothing.

  • injuries.

  • Explanation of injuries do not correlate with objective evidence.

  • The woman may always be accompanied by her partner or another person.

  • She may seem nervous or afraid of her partner.

 question markRaising the question

GPs are quite often the first port of call for women seeking help when in an abusive relationship.  The manner in which the GP or other health professional responds to a woman’s attempt to seek help to change her situation can make an immense difference to her life and that of her children.

You should talk to the woman alone and stress confidentiality issues.

When questioning show a caring, non-judgemental attitude.

Enabling women to disclose abuse may be difficult.  Initially you should try to approach the issue of domestic violence by asking non-threatening/in-direct questions in an empathetic manner.  This should help build a relationship of trust with the woman. 

Examples of indirect questions

  • How are you feeling?

  • Is everything alright at home/do you get the support you need at home?

  • Do you get on well with your partner? 

If the woman affirms that there are problems at home or gives an answer that suggest that she may be living with domestic violence, it is important to ask more direct questions.  The questions asked will depend on the individual circumstances but here are a few examples. 

Direct questions

  • Are you frightened of your partner?

  • Do you feel unsafe at home?

  • How did you  get those injuries?

  • Has your partner ever hurt you physically?

  • Has your partner used threatening and controlling behaviour towards you?

  • Has your partner ever hurt your children?

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Contact Us:  129 University Street Belfast. BT7 1HP  Tel:(028) 90 249041 Fax:(028) 90 239296  
General email: [email protected]
  For help and information, please call the 24 Hour Domestic Violence Helpline on 0800 917 1414. We do not provide a  support service via email.


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Women's Aid Federation Northern Ireland