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September/October 2016Vol. 17, No. 7Safe Practices for Workers in Domestic Violence Cases

An article in the April 2016 Practice Notes, published by the North Carolina Division of Social Services and the Family and Children's Resource Program at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, addresses safe practices for child welfare professionals who are working with families involved in domestic violence cases. The article shares steps and suggestions taken from North Carolina's child welfare policy that child welfare workers can consider to safeguard themselves and others.

The article urges "extreme caution" in domestic violence cases and includes recommendations for mitigating risk and recognizing possible abusers, including specific guidelines for high-risk and threatening situations. The article also addresses guidelines professionals should consider before performing a home visit in a potentially risky situation, triggers that may cause a violent confrontation, and suggestions for what to do when facing a threatening situation, including the following:

  • Trust your instincts. If the situation feels unsafe, it probably is.
  • Stay calm. The abuser will try to test limits. Do not engage in a confrontation.
  • End the visit if the abuser's anger cannot be deescalated by efforts to calm him or her down.
  • Always notify the nonoffending parent/adult victim prior to a visit with the perpetrator.
  • Always notify the nonoffending parent/adult victim of escalation in the abuser's anger and risk to the children or the nonoffending parent/adult victim.

Access the article "Worker Safety When There Is Domestic Violence" at