For University Staff Assisting Survivors or Potential Survivors of Relationship Abuse
This is a checklist for people whom you know or suspect to have been in a controlling or an abusive relationship. Relationship abuse is the control of one intimate partner by another through verbal, emotional, sexual or physical abuse. Even when there is no physical abuse, a partner can coerce/control someone through verbal threats or intimidation (i.e., throwing things or yelling). This checklist will allow you to identify the safest way of contacting the survivor of the abuse and what their immediate needs are for assistance in reaching safety. Many people who commit relationship abuse monitor their partner’s communications and their whereabouts as a way of controlling them. Therefore, meeting with you or receiving information from you about relationship abuse could put the survivor in danger of retaliation from their partner.
When you first respond to an incident, it is important to meet with the student alone. If this is not possible, schedule a follow-up meeting with the survivor for another time when the survivor’s partner is not present. This follow-up meeting can be articulated as protocol to avoid the implication that the survivor has asked for a meeting with you alone, which may anger their partner. To ensure the safety of the survivor and guarantee that s/he is able to speak without intimidation, you should not meet with the survivor and the partner together or attempt a mediation. Do not recommend couple’s counseling if you think there may be an imbalance of power in the relationship or if you suspect relationship abuse. Instead, recommend individual counseling or specific relationship abuse services. Because the survivor’s experiences may have been traumatic, it is often helpful to offer them the opportunity to articulate their needs through written questions. It also may be helpful for you to have a list of the most common immediate issues and precautions that should be mentioned to the victim. This checklist is not a complete list of options, but it is a good starting point and reference in a crisis.
- Explain that this checklist is a helpful way of making sure that contact with you will not jeopardize that person’s safety. Explain that you will keep this copy of the checklist, and you will also give them another, blank copy to keep so that they can think about some of the options listed on it. If the person indicates that it is not safe for them to have the handout, do not give them a copy to keep. Instead, tell them that you will keep it for them at your office.
- Give the person a copy of the checklist and ask them to check the boxes of statements which apply to them, and to fill out the information requested.
- Remember to show them the list of resources on the back of the handout. More detailed safety plans and other resources are available and can be obtained by contacting your University’s Office on Sexual Assault & Relationship Abuse.
- After the survivor has completed the checklist, review her responses. If she has indicated she would like assistance with safety planning, contact with a relationship abuse agency or assistance from a trained advocate, contact your University’s Office on Sexual Assault & Relationship Abuse or local domestic violence agency.
For other issues, such as assistance with academics or transportation, schedule a team meeting to discuss the next steps that should be taken.
Because some people monitor their partner’s communications in order to control them, we want to make sure that we do not put you at greater risk by contacting you.
Email and Internet
Does your partner monitor your communications (email, phone, internet use, mail)?
Is it safe for us to send you e-mail? What is the best e-mail address where we can contact
Would you like assistance setting up a new, private e-mail account?
Do you need assistance accessing a private computer, or learning how to erase the computer’s record of what websites you have visited?
Is it safe to call you? What is the best phone number where we can contact you?
Would you like assistance contacting the telephone company to get a new phone number?
Is it safe for us to send you mail? What is the best address where we can send you mail?
If you receive mail to your residence and your partner monitors it, do you need assistance getting a new P.O. Box?
Do you have any classes or sections with your partner?
Would you like academic accommodations? (i.e. switching to a different section, changing classes, requesting extensions and/or incompletes, or withdrawing from a class)
Does your partner have access to your dorm room or other places of residence?
Would you like assistance changing your locks?
Do you need a safe place to stay in an emergency?
Do you have access to transportation? Do you need assistance obtaining transportation?
Is it safe for you to have this handout or any other handouts we may give you?
Would you like assistance setting up a safe place to keep papers/essentials?
Would you feel safe if we talked to your partner about this incident?
Circle: YES / NO
Are there things we should avoid talking about or mentioning to your partner?
Circle: YES / NO
We respect your confidentiality. However, we may have to share some of this information in order to provide for your safety. Is there anyone with whom sharing this information may put you at greater risk? (i.e. RA, PHE, Friend, Neighbor, Dean, Professor, Boss)
There are ways to plan to stay safe in emergencies. Would you like to develop a safety plan?
Would you like a referral to an advocate or local relationship abuse agency?
Would you like a woman to call you to talk about what you’ve experienced?
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