Module 3: Communication in cases of domestic violence

1. Barriers to Disclosure
2. Communication Strategies
3. Screening Questions for Domestic Violence
4. Responding to a Disclosure
5. Questions that Often Arise in the Context of DV
6. Visual Communication

Spotlight on the school sector: Communication with parents & pupils


Introduction to the topic

Welcome to Module 3 on “Communication in cases of domestic violence”. In this module, we delve into the critical aspects of communication when addressing domestic violence. Understanding the complexities related to disclosure of DV, employing effective communication strategies, and crafting appropriate responses are paramount in providing comprehensive support to victims experiencing domestic violence.

Learning objectives

+ Understanding existing barriers that can prevent individuals from disclosing domestic violence.

+ Being able to implement communication strategies tailored to the specific challenges of domestic violence cases.

+ Being able to use screening questions to identify cases of domestic violence.

+ Being able to respond in an appropriate and empathetic way when faced with disclosures of domestic violence, ensuring that victims feel supported and understood.

+ Being able to understand and apply visual communication methods to enhance communication in cases of domestic violence.

+ Understanding what do to next when victims disclose violence.

1. Barriers to Disclosure

Individuals experiencing domestic violence may face various challenges that can make it difficult for them to openly discuss their situation.

Please click on the crosses below each term in the illustration to see further information on some common barriers:

Please remember: Victims of domestic violence come from all social, cultural, economic, and religious backgrounds with different age, gender and sexual orientation, including people with disabilities. It affects people from all socio-economic backgrounds and education levels. It is important to understand, that there is NO “typical victim”.

Even though many example videos depict a female as the victim in heterogenous relationships, please do not be misled. Victims can be anyone, including men, children, individuals with disabilities, or non-binary persons. The same applies to perpetrators. For more information on perpetrators, check out Module 1. Also, domestic violence can occur between couples, same-sex couples, parent and child, siblings, uncles, aunts, cousins, grandparents or even roommates.

2. Communication Strategies

To foster a respect- and trustful communication about the experienced violence, ensure victims have a private space without accompanying individuals (partner, children, other family members or non-family caretakers) allowing them to speak freely and comfortably. In general, it is useful to use “I-Messages”. It can be used specifically to solve ambivalences in a victim during the counselling or in case of less time for counselling.

Please click on the crosses below each term in the illustration to see further information.

3. Screening Questions for Domestic Violence

It is crucial to inquire about domestic violence through screening questions without exacerbating the risk of harm to victims and their children. The screening process should commence with a framing statement to introduce and normalise the questions.2

  • Every effort should be made to screen in the victim’s preferred language in case of language difficulties, and cultural barriers should be recognised during the screening process.
  • Pose behavioural questions that solicit descriptions of behaviour rather than solely focusing on the impact or meaning of behaviours.
  • Present questions in a calm, matter-of-fact manner. In cases where responses are unclear, briefly seek further clarification through additional questions.
  • Always express gratitude for the provided information.3

Remember: Explore different approaches to discover the one that suits you best, recognising that each victim may respond differently to various methods.

Start with asking general questions

Use statements like these to raise the subject of violence before you ask direct questions. Open questions should be asked to encourage the victim to talk instead of saying yes or no. Avoid questions that put the blame on the victim.

Framing the question

Create space for silence, allowing the individual time to gather their thoughts. Demonstrate patience and maintain a calm demeanour. Signal your attentive listening, whether through nodding or verbal cues like “hmm….”. Validate the emotions and encourage the victim to share the story at a pace that feels comfortable for them.

“I don’t know if this is a problem for you, but many people are dealing with abusive relationships. Some are too afraid or uncomfortable to bring it up themselves, so I’ve started asking about it routinely.”5

“Violence affects many families. Violence in the home may result in physical and emotional problems for you and your child. We are offering services to anyone who may be concerned about violence in their home.6

Ask direct questions

Here are some simple and direct questions that you can start with. They show you want to hear about their problems. Depending on their answers, continue to ask questions and listen to their story. If they answer “yes” to any of these questions, offer support. Do not tell the victim it is not that bad or minimise the pain.

“Are you ever afraid at home or in your relationship?”

“Has your partner or someone else at home ever threatened to hurt or physically harm you in some way? If so, when has it happened?”

“Does your partner or someone else at home try to control you, for example not letting you have money or go out of the house?”

More examples

“Have you been pressured or made to do anything sexually that you did not want to?”7

“Have you been hit, kicked, punched, or otherwise hurt by someone within the past year? If so, by whom?”

“Do you feel unsafe in your current relationship?”8

“Is there a partner from a previous relationship who is making you feel unsafe now?”

“Have you ever felt controlled or isolated by someone close to you?”

“Do you have a safe place to go in an emergency?”

“Does your partner or someone else at home ever try to control you by threatening to hurt you or your family?”12

“Have you ever been slapped, pushed or shoved by someone close to you?”

“Why are you still living with your partner/family member who treats you like that?”

“Could you have avoided the situation?”

“Are you a victim of domestic violence?”13

“You are lucky that nothing worse happened.”

“Why did you do that…?”

If an interpreter is needed:

  • Never use a victim’s relative or friend as an interpreter.
  • Preferably, engage a professional interpreter with DV training or an advocate affiliated with a local specialised DV agency.
  • Choose an interpreter of the same gender as the patient, and contemplate having them sign a confidentiality agreement to uphold privacy and trust.

Guidelines how to work with interpreters can be found under these links:

4. Responding to a Disclosure

Opting to reveal experiences of domestic violence is an individual choice, and DV victims may opt not to communicate about it for various reasons, such as concerns for safety, fear of potential consequences, or a lack of trust, among others. Professionals can act as advocates for domestic violence victims, drawing on their resilience and strengths.14

Description: The video illustrates how one should respond to a disclosure in cases of domestic violence.

When someone opens up, listen actively without judgment or offering solutions, giving them the space to express their needs. While you can seek clarification through questions, focus on allowing them to share their emotions. Use the following techniques to help them articulate their needs, ensuring a better understanding.

Empower the individual

The victim should be helped to identify and express their needs and concerns. Allow silences. If the individual cries, give enough time to recover.

No “why” questions should be asked.

“When you said earlier that your partner/family member lashes out at you [or whatever behaviour they’ve described], I’m wondering if you can tell me what that means?”15

Is there anything you need or are worried about?

Why did you do that?

Why did you upset your partner/family member?

Don’t try to finish the thoughts for the individual.16

Building trust and showing empathy

Ensure clarity in communication by repeating what the victim has shared to confirm your understanding. Reflect the emotions conveyed by the victim and summarise their expressed concerns. Avoid using suggestive questions during the conversation.

You mentioned that you feel very frustrated.

“It sounds as if you are angry about this…

“You seem to be saying that…

I imagine that upsets you, doesn’t it?

Don’t look at your watch or speak too rapidly. Don’t answer the telephone, look at a computer or write.17

Validate feelings

Assure the other person that their emotions are typical, create an environment where it’s secure to share those feelings, and emphasise their entitlement to a life free from violence and fear. Validation involves expressing attentive listening, comprehension, and belief in what they communicate without passing judgment or attaching conditions.

“It’s not your fault. You are not to blame.”

“It’s okay to talk.”

“Help is available.” [Say this only if it is true.]

More examples

“There is no justification or excuse for what has happened.”

“No one deserves to be hit by their partner or other family member in a relationship.”

“You are not alone. Unfortunately, many other people have faced this problem too.”

“Your life, your health, you are of value.”

“Everybody deserves to feel safe at home.”

“I am worried that this may be affecting your health.”

This feeling will go away, do not worry.”

Offer support

Assure you are not judgemental. Don’t advise things. Signalise that there is no excuse for violent behaviour. Take the victim seriously. Be empathetic. Appreciate the victim’s experiences. Assist the individual in recognising and articulating their needs and concerns.

“I know this is difficult to discuss, but you can talk to me.

“You are not alone. I’m here for you.

“You are not responsible for what’s going on.

More examples

“Violence is never ok and you do not deserve it.

“Thank you for trusting me and sharing your feelings.”

“Is there anything that you need or are concerned about?”

You should definitely get divorced.

“I believe this conforms to typical ‘men’/’women’ behaviour, and there’s no need to overreact.”

Don’t tell the person someone else’s story or talk about your own troubles.18

Avoid confrontation

If the victim is not ready to talk about the situation, do not force it. Recognise the right time and let the victim know about it. Lay off the pressure.

“I’m here to help, and I’m available, even if I understand that you don’t want to talk about it now.

“Remember that you’re not alone. I’ll be here for you when you’re ready.”

Let the individual make their own decisions

Avoid judging the victim’s ability to make decisions, thus preventing that she/he loses confidence in you. Encouragement and asking is the key.

“What can I do to support you?”

“How can I help to protect your safety?

Provide ways to get help

Let the individual know about specialist family violence services that can offer professional support. Avoid convicting or condemning statements.

“Here is the number to your local domestic violence office. They can help with shelter and counselling.

Do you want me to help you develop a safety plan?

“I want to help you (your child, etc.) be healthy and also safe. I want to share these resources I give to all of my clients. I give everyone two of them so you have the info for yourself and you can give one to a friend. We all know someone who’s struggling and may need support.”

“You should definitely call this number and leave the perpetrator immediately!”

Why didn’t you leave your this person long ago?

If you would have come earlier, I could have helped you better.

Next steps:

Talk with the victim about safety measures and risk assessment. Find further information in Module 5: Risk assessment and safety planning.

After the disclosure of domestic violence, you need to provide information about the help offered by social services. Find further information in Module 4: Support services of the social sector.

Find more information about the criminal processes involved after reporting to the police here.

5. Questions that often arise in the context of DV

Here are answers to some questions that might come up when working with victims subjected to domestic violence.19

“What can I do when I have few resources and little time?”

It does not necessarily take long, and it does not require additional resources: sometimes, one sentence is enough to let the victim know that they are not alone, that violence is never an option and that they can get help if they want to. Also, you can learn about resources in the health-care system and in the community that can help them.

“Why not offer advice?”

It is important for victims to be listened to and to have an opportunity to tell their story to an empathetic person. Most victims do not want to be told what to do. In fact, listening well and responding with empathy is far more helpful than you may realise. It may be the most important thing you can do. Victims need to find their own path and come to their own decisions. Talking about it can help them do this.

However, information (e.g., via pamphlets) on available resources (e.g., financial support, contact data of shelter) should be offered.

“Why do they not just leave them?”

There are many reasons for victims to stay in violent relationships. It is important not to judge them and not to urge them to leave. They have to make that decision themselves, in their own time. Reasons for not leaving include:

  • Financial/social etc. dependence can be experienced. Some individuals rely on their caregivers.
  • Some individuals may think that violence is normal in relationships and that all partners/family members will be violent and controlling, believing they deserve it.
  • Fear of an extreme and violent reaction to leaving.
  • Feeling there’s no place to go or no one to turn to for support.

Find more information on the dynamics of domestic violence in Module 1.

“How did they get themselves into this situation?”

It is important to avoid blaming the victim for what happened. Blaming the victim will get in the way of your giving them good care. Violence is never appropriate in any situation. There is no excuse or justification for violence. No one ever deserves to be hurt.

“That wasn’t the way we were taught.”

You need to add a human focus by listening, identifying victim’s needs and concerns, strengthening their social support, and enhancing their safety. Also, you can help them see and consider their options and help them feel they have the strength to make and carry out important decisions.

“What if they decide not to report to the police?”

Respect their decision. Let them know that they can change their mind. Let them know that there is someone they can talk to about their options and help them make the report if they choose to.

“How can I promise confidentiality if the law says I have to report to the police?”

If your law requires you to report violence to the police, you must tell the person this. You can say, for example, “What you tell me is confidential, that means I won’t tell anyone else about what you share with me. The only exception to this is…”

Learn about the specifics of the law and conditions in which you are required to report (for example, the law may require reporting rape or child abuse). Assure them that, outside of this required reporting, you will not tell anyone else without their permission. Find further information on legal aspects in different countries in Module 7.

“What if they start to cry?”

Give them time to do so. You can say, “I know this is difficult to talk about. You can take your time.”

“What if I suspect violence but they do not acknowledge it?”

Do not try to force them to disclose. (Your suspicions could be wrong.) You can still provide care and offer further help.

“What if they want me to talk to their partner/family member/caregiver?”

It is not a good idea for you to take on this responsibility. However, if the victim feels it is safe to do so and it will not make the violence worse, it may be helpful for someone they respect to talk to them – perhaps a family member, a friend, or a religious leader. Warn them that if this is not done carefully, it could lead to more violence.

“What if the partner/family member/caregiver is one of my client, too?”

It is very hard to keep seeing both individuals when there is violence in the relationship. Best practice is to try to get a colleague to see one of them, while ensuring that confidentiality of the victim’s disclosure is protected.

“What if I think their partner/family member/caregiver is likely to kill them?”

Share your concerns with the victim honestly, explain why you think they might be at grave risk and explain that you want to discuss possible options for keeping them safe. In this situation identifying and offering secure alternatives where they can go is particularly important.

Be prepared for such a situation and have a leaflet with respective telephone numbers (e.g., from a shelter) at hand. Make sure this list is up to date.

Depending on the country’s legal situation you may be obliged to report the risk to the police.

Ask if there is a trusted person you can include in the discussion and whom you can alert to the risk.

“What if I cannot handle what I hear?”

Your needs are as important as those of the victim you are caring for. You may have strong reactions or emotions when listening to or talking about violence with victims. This is especially true if you have experienced abuse or violence yourself – or are experiencing it now.
Be aware of your emotions and take the opportunity to understand yourself better.
Make sure to get the help and support you need for yourself.

Find more information on Self-care in Module 9 (will be available soon).

6. Visual Communication

Often, individuals experiencing domestic violence find it challenging to access information or support services. Visual communication plays a crucial role in raising awareness about domestic violence. Utilising tools like posters (e.g., with QR codes), leaflets, or pamphlets displays strategically placed in waiting rooms, bathrooms, and other visible areas is essential. Place information with support services in washrooms (with appropriate warnings about not taking them home if the perpetrator could find them).

These visual aids serve to communicate that the facility is a safe space for discussing domestic violence and make support services readily apparent. By creating a visual environment that openly addresses domestic violence, individuals are more likely to feel encouraged to speak up and seek help. This proactive approach contributes to breaking the silence around domestic violence and fostering a supportive atmosphere.


  • Use inclusive visuals that accurately represent the diverse experiences of individuals affected by violence (all genders without stereotypes).
  • If possible, use information available in multiple languages.
  • Choose impactful images that promote a positive message. Avoid harmful visuals such as depictions of physical violence (because DV is not only physical), sexualised portrayals of victim-survivors, and images exclusive to specific demographics.

Here are some examples on different tools:

International signal for help:

This is an international single-handed gesture used to draw attention to domestic violence. It can be employed when the person in need of help cannot speak loudly, for instance, because the perpetrator is nearby (in the car, at home etc.).

“The signal is performed by holding one hand up with the thumb tucked into the palm, then folding the four other fingers down, symbolically trapping the thumb by the rest of the finger.”20

Distribute informational brochures about domestic violence awareness or local counselling services. Ideally, choose those that are in your vicinity and offer anonymous online counselling.

Some examples:

If it is not safe to give the affected person a flyer, it is a good option to create, for example, a business card with discreet phone numbers and addresses.

Buttons signalise that this is a safe space to talk about domestic violence.

Spotlight on the school sector: Communication with parents & pupils

Talking to the child or young person


  • Who conducts the conversation? Who is trusted by the child or adolescent?
  • Which setting is appropriate (walk, conversation at the table, …)?
  • Is there a room where a pleasant atmosphere can be created?
  • How can I help the child or adolescent to make a good transition into everyday life after the conversation?
  • Do you need notes and pens, handkerchiefs, information material or similar?
  • Are there counselling centres for the suspected problem? Inform yourself.
  • Put yourself in the child’s or adolescent’s shoes: does he/she want to have the conversation? Does he/she want to have it alone or in the presence of another person? Has he/she already talked about this with someone else?

Phase 1: Introduction

  • Seek contact and speak with the child or adolescent.
  • Use the child’s or young person’s language level and ask open questions (no alternative or suggestive questions). Encourage the child or adolescent to tell you about their situation at home. “Incidentals” that say something about rules and control can give you an idea of the child’s or adolescent’s living situation.
    • “How are things at home?”/”Many children having behavioural issues at school have problems at home. Is there anyone in your family who puts pressure on you?”
    • “How do you get along with your parents/siblings/other family members?”
    • “Is there anything that makes you sad or that you are worried about?”
    • “Some children are afraid at home. What do you think makes them being afraid?”/”Are there times when you are afraid at home?”
  • Reduce tension by making your concerns clear.
  • Agree on the time frame and the goal.
  • Talk about the level of confidentiality, if you are taking notes, mention what they will be used for.


“You made a suggestion the other day about how your mother’s boyfriend is sometimes rough with her when he is annoyed with her. This is still bothering me, so I invited you to talk to me. I want to know if I can help you. What do you think?”

“I’ve noticed for a few weeks now, that you look very unhappy and often seem unfocused and tired in class. The other day, when I was handing out the classwork, you looked very anxious/ashamed. I don’t know how you feel about talking to me about this, but maybe I can be supportive. What do you think?”

Phase 2: Introductory question

  • Think of a “first question” that marks an introduction to the topic for the child or adolescent.
  • In the best case, the previous questions in the introductory phase have succeeded in creating a good atmosphere for discussion.


“I wonder if there’s something bothering you that’s keeping you awake. Tell me, what is it like for you to sleep?”

“I had the impression that you were anxious/ashamed the moment, I handed out the classwork, right? Tell me about it.”

Phase 3: Conversation content

  • In this phase, listen actively and take the child or adolescent seriously.
  • Help the child or adolescent to talk about his/her experiences, feelings and needs. If the child or adolescent does not want to talk, offer to talk at a later time.
  • Treat statements made by children or adolescents affected by violence in a non-judgemental way.
  • Strengthen the child’s or adolescent’s self-esteem by making clear that violence is never okay and that they are not to blame. Reinforce and confirm that the child’s or adolescent’s feelings are right. Support the child or adolescent in perceiving and respecting their own boundaries and those of others. A secret that is scary and dangerous, that feels scary or threatening, that can give you a stomachache or even nightmares, is not a real secret – you are allowed to talk about it, even if you promised not to.
    • “Violence is never okay.”
    • “It’s not your fault.”
    • “You are allowed to feel angry/sad/insecure/etc.”
    • “You may talk about it, even if you promised not to.”
    • “We will do something together to get help.”
  • Believe the child or adolescent. Listen carefully and do not trivialise anything. Tell the child or adolescent that it is helpful to talk about it.
    • “I believe you.”
    • “I’m glad you came to me.”
    • “I’m so sorry that happened.”
  • Support the child or adolescent in proposing their own solutions and respect their decisions as long as the child’s or adolescent’s welfare is not at risk.
  • Support the child or adolescent in creating a “contingency plan”.


“The most important thing for me is to know how you are dealing with it. It would be nice if you could say something about it.”

“You say it’s your fault when your parents fight or your father/mother hits you/shouts at you from time to time because you provoke him/her. What do you mean?”

“How can we make sure that you are not put in danger if there is violence between your parents?”

“Who can you turn to if there is violence between your parents? Is there a neighbour? Does a grandma/uncle live nearby? Do you have a telephone?”

Phase 4: Rounding off

  • Come back to the goal of the conversation, it must be clear whether there will be a continuation or what the further procedure will be. Coordinate further activities with the child or adolescent, if possible.
  • Be sure that when seeking support from the child’s or adolescent’s parents or other confidants that this is done with the child’s or adolescent’s consent and does not aggravate the child’s or adolescent’s situation. Ask about the child’s or adolescent’s relationships with father, mother, siblings, other relatives, friends, and acquaintances. Cautiously establish contact with the child’s or adolescent’s family or caregivers.


“The 30 minutes are almost up, and it’s time to finish. What else would you like to talk about? Is there anything else I should know?”

“I’ve noticed that it hasn’t always been easy for you, but …”

“I think we had a good talk. Now I know what’s going on. Maybe it would be good if I asked you again, like in a week, how you are?”

“I thank you for telling me so much/ … for being so honest/ … for having the courage to tell me all of this, because it must have been very hard for you.”

“I will invite your mother for a talk as we discussed. We will also stay in contact.”

“I’m still thinking about what to do with the information and I’ll consult with Ms. Meyer. I’ll keep you informed on any further steps.”

Tips for difficult situations


  • Accept if the child or adolescent cannot talk or wants to remain silent on the topic.
  • It is good for them to know that pauses in conversations are allowed.

Conflicts of loyalties

  • Respect the child’s or adolescent’s loyalties.
  • Name violent behaviour, speak out clearly against it.
  • At the same time, respect the people involved.

Secrecy request

  • Never engage in secrecy.
  • Remember: violence is a child protection issue!
  • Discuss the next steps with the child or adolescent.
Talking to the parents


Helpful attitude in the conversation

  • Show appreciation to the parents. Remain free from reproaches and accusations.
  • Always critically examine your own experiences and personal attitudes towards domestic violence.
  • Question your own attitude towards the family.
    • “Am I inwardly aggressive towards the parents?”, “What could contribute to this?”
    • “Am I interested in what they have to say about the problems – or not?”
    • “Am I sensitive enough to their fears and can I understand why they would rather not talk about it?”
  • The conversation’s focus is the concern for the child or adolescent.
  • Start the conversation with the child’s or adolescent’s (and the parents’, if applicable) resources. It should not be so much about finding out what exactly happened, but rather about making sure that the conversation is as future-oriented as possible.

Preparations for the parent interview

  • If you suspect domestic violence in the family, invite only the parent you suspect to be the victim of the violence.
  • Collect and document what you or your colleagues have observed.
  • Exchange information with colleagues who are involved with the affected child or adolescent.
  • If necessary, seek advice from a specialised agency.
  • Have information material, flyers, help addresses at hand.
  • Think about how to deal with your fear that the situation will get worse for the child or adolescent if you talk to him/her.
  • If necessary, inform the school administration, also to get “back up” for your further action.
  • In an invitation, offer the conversation to the parents as an exchange about the child’s or adolescent’s development.
  • Consider what you will do if the interview does not take place.
  • Put yourself in the parents’ perspective: how do they possibly see the situation?
  • Develop your own suggestions for solving the problem or take the children’s or adolescent’s wishes into account. In this context, also inform yourself about the various support options.

Phase 1: Opening the conversation

  • State the occasion and the goal of the conversation.
  • Talk about the time frame.


“We have invited you to talk about your daughter today. We all want her to be well and to develop well. Together with you, we would therefore like to think about what everyone can contribute to this.”

Phase 2: Clarification of the situation

  • Think of an opening sentence with which to start the parent interview.
  • Do not bring up the topic of responsibility right away; from the parents’ point of view, this is the topic of guilt!
  • Share your concern for the child or adolescent rather than focusing on any misbehaviour on the part of the parent.
    • “Do you sometimes worry about …?”
    • “She/he seems so depressed sometimes and we don’t know why.”


“I have observed for about two and a half months now, that your daughter has changed: she no longer reports to class, seems withdrawn and has written a D in the last three tests. Do you have any idea what the reason could be?”

  • Actively address possible fears of the parents and counter them with factual information without playing down the behaviour that endangers the child’s or adolescent’s well-being or making it a taboo.
  • Name possible hurdles.
    • “I can understand why this conversation is difficult for you.”
    • “We can see that your child is injured. Let’s think about how we can make sure this doesn’t happen again.”
    • “I can see that you are injured, and I am concerned about you and your child.”
  • Conduct the discussion with “open cards” and inform the parents that the youth welfare office may have to be informed if there is a risk.
  • Try to take away the parents’ fear of this and focus on the help that the family can receive.


“I can understand that this conversation is difficult for you. It’s about your child and family matters, people don’t like to talk about that … I have to admit, it’s hard for me, too!”

“We are having a difficult conversation … You don’t know what I will do if you tell me there are problems at home … But I can assure you that I will discuss further steps with you.”

  • If you are planning a confrontation with a suspicion of domestic violence, leave out the term “violence”.


“Sometimes the reason why children don’t do well at school is because of the home context. Is that a possibility? Is it possible that your daughter is worried? For example, about you?”

“It may be that I am quite wrong now. But I wonder if it is possible that your husband/partner is putting pressure on you. Is it possible?”

  • Concealing or trivialising reactions are understandable at first.
  • When talking to parents, please leave all interpretations and assessments out of it!
  • Mutual questioning and listening are especially important in this phase!


“We assume that what your son/daughter tells us is true. However, the point is not to clarify what happened, but what should happen to make your child feel better. What can make that happen?”

“With what we observe, we are obliged to react. It must be ensured that your daughter/son can develop healthily. How can this be done?”

“This conversation is to help everyone in the family feel better. Sometimes there are situations where you don’t react appropriately. Now we want to think about how this can be changed.”

“This conversation is to help your daughter/son get better. We want to think about what we can all do to help.”

Phase 3: Finding solutions

  • Collect ideas for further action with the parent(s).
  • Propose your ideas to them.

Phase 4: Agreement

  • If you feel that personal limits are being reached so that continuing the conversation is not possible, it is a good idea to adjourn the conversation to a later time.
    • This interruption gives everybody the opportunity to “reflect what has been said”.
    • Every conversation should end with the agreement to continue the conversation.
    • In the case of suspected violence in the family, it must be made clear that you want to offer help and support, especially for the child/adolescent, as well as to show the adults involved that there is always a way out and that help is available even though the situation is obviously difficult.
  • Agree on specific arrangements and record them in writing.
  • If necessary, arrange a follow-up appointment to check compliance.
  • Agree on a plan of action that is realistically linked to the parents’ possibilities.

When do I not conduct a parental interview but inform the youth welfare office directly?

  • Suspicion of sexual abuse within the family
  • Acute danger/crisis situation
Professional assurance

In cases of suspected domestic violence, you can contact counselling centres, youth welfare offices and other contact persons for support. If you are sure that the situation poses a high risk for the child or the adolescent, you must protect him/her, and involve the youth welfare office after consultation with the school management. Local and regional support systems have proven their worth in protecting children and adolescents from abuse and neglect. “Institutionalised cooperation” takes place through working groups in which specialists from youth welfare organisations, schools, the police, the judiciary, health and welfare offices, child and youth psychiatry, and the medical profession meet regularly to coordinate their actions.


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    Screening for Domestic Violence, ↩︎
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