Health care provider abuse victims are often in an intense state of fear and confusion, which can lead to feelings of being unable to protect themselves. It is important that clients are made aware of their rights as well as the options available to them right away. They also need to be advised on how these services and procedures are paid for.

Tips on how to deal with abuse victims

  1. Safety first

The abused person is usually fearing for their life. Safety and protection is the top priority for abuse victims. Promising safety and security should be done before addressing other issues.

  1. Tell them what you will do

Explain to the client that you will take steps to ensure they are safe and protected. They need to know that you are taking this matter seriously. Enlisting support from others can also help ease anxiety or fear, especially of the abuser knowing about your intervention efforts. The sooner you intervene, the better it is for them as well as children in case they have any with them during the session or consultation.

  1. Let them speak first

The person should be able to freely express what they want and how they are feeling. They need to know that you appreciate that they have been through a traumatic experience that may require counseling. The abused person also needs to know that you will respect their privacy and confidentiality as well as their right to choose therapist/therapists, which may be very important for them. This is essential so that the client does not feel pressured or judged by you on who will treat them and with whom. You must always strive for equality between both parties and never slant the situation towards one party, which could really compromise the client’s rights as well as their dignity.

  1. Identify the abuser

The abused person needs to know that you will help them do this and what steps to take in order to establish or verify the abuser or abusers. You should also identify any enemy of the person, friends who may be involved in abuse or harassment, abusive co-workers, family members and so on. Knowing these people is a big part of protection and then steps can be taken to control the situation before it escalates. This gives the abused person power and control over their situation and their lives once again.

  1. Ask if they need any counseling, advice or help

Help the person to understand what they are going through and feeling. Make them aware of the short and long-term effects abuse can have. The abused person needs reassurance that you are working with them to try to help them regain control over their lives, but also to make sure that the abuse does not occur again.

  1. Give an appropriate response

Many times abuse victims fear that no one will believe them or take them seriously. It is important to just listen and let the client speak without any interruptions. It is best to take some notes and use them later after they have left in order to better understand their experiences. There are numerous resources available for information and advice on what you can do and if the client is aware of these, it could make a difference in how they feel about your presence.