Coordinated Community Responses to Domestic Violence in Six Communities: Beyond the Justice System. Understand the extent of domestic violence among your own clients


To begin to address domestic violence among its client population, an agency must first develop screening protocols to identify women who experience battering, and then decide the circumstances under which they will use these protocols. An agency could, for example, decide to use the protocol for every case seeking services of any kind, or any person encountered by the agency (if it is not one where clients come voluntarily). This is the approach of some child protection agencies, and it is the approach that the Joint Commission on the Accreditation of Hospitals requires of all emergency rooms (although this is not always followed in practice). Alternatively, an agency could decide only to screen clients seeking particular services (e.g., those coming to the emergency room of a hospital, but not those coming to a variety of other clinics or seeking other services), or clients exhibiting certain patterns of injury or explaining their injuries in unconvincing ways. The only real way any agency will come to understand the full scope of domestic violence in its clientele is to screen everyone, at least at the beginning. It may become clear as the evidence collects that some degree of targeting would be almost as efficient, but any decision to limit screening would then be based on facts rather than on assumptions.