Clients who are experiencing domestic abuse can sometimes behave in ways that are difficult to understand.
Signs of Trauma
The effects of trauma can result in behaviours such as the following:
- Anxiety, depression, low self-esteem.
- Learned helplessness. The client may have come to the conclusion that they are safer to stay in the situation than to leave
- Hypervigilance. The client may be constantly alert to potential threats, and need to carefully consider any course of action in light of risk and safety
- Avoidance. The client may find it challenging to accept help
- Hostility and irritability can be an outward signs of elevated stress hormones
It is likely that your client has spent a considerable length of time balancing risk and safety. Your client is an expert in the abuser’s behaviour and possible responses, and will be used to carefully measuring the risk associated with any suggested intervention. A client is likely to know that the most dangerous time in any abusive relationship is the point of separation, and will need to carefully plan around it, often taking into account their children and housing needs. A client will need the patience of agencies working with them, and the understanding that they will know the best way to manage their own risk.
Having a caseworker can help your client to navigate and safety plan. Refer your client using our referral form here.