Skip main navigation

New offer! Get 30% off your first 2 months of Unlimited Monthly. Start your subscription for just £35.99 £24.99. New subscribers only T&Cs apply

Find out more

Daring to ask

Aware of possible domestic violence? It is important that you dare to ask, and provide a necessary amount of time, privacy, empathy, and support.

One of the main reasons why patients do not talk about their violent experiences is that they are not asked.

Therefore, healthcare practitioners must dare to ask if they are concerned about the possibility of domestic violence. Moreover, we have to be able to provide a reasonable amount of time, privacy, empathy, and support. When taking a history on this sensitive subject, it can be effective to start with some indirect, open questions in order to put the patient at ease. Possible questions include:

  • How do you get along with your family?
  • Are there any conflicts at home?
  • Do you feel scared of anyone?

Image showing fictional "Dr Marc" is asking Zara questions. Marc is asking Zara. Illustration: Roger Libesch

If you notice any specific signs or symptoms, you can also ask some direct questions such as:

  • You’ve had a number of bruises. Could you tell me how they happened? Did someone hit you?
  • Sometimes, when people around us are over-protective and jealous, they react strongly and use physical force. Has this ever happened to you?

Source: BMA Board of Science 2014. Domestic abuse

This article is from the free online

Addressing Violence Through Patient Care

Created by
FutureLearn - Learning For Life

Reach your personal and professional goals

Unlock access to hundreds of expert online courses and degrees from top universities and educators to gain accredited qualifications and professional CV-building certificates.

Join over 18 million learners to launch, switch or build upon your career, all at your own pace, across a wide range of topic areas.

Start Learning now