What if Your Client is the Abuser?

If you are working with someone who tells you that he or she has been hurting or threatening a partner (not a child) or you suspect that might be the case, most of what is above is easily adapted to their situation.

  • The same routine inquiry questions (adapted) are relevant.
  • Denial is normal in this situation, also. If what you hear or see suggests that the person is abusive, you can express your concern directly, for instance: when I hear you express your frustration with her, I wonder if you ever feel out of control or like hurting her?
  • A key question is whether the person would prefer to behave non-violently, in which case your efforts can help him or her identify the ways in which he or she has managed not to be violent before and how others can be mobilized to support non-violence.
  • In any case, provide resources. See Unit 7.
  • In a situation where you believe the person is threatening severe violence to a partner, you have a duty to warn (see next unit).