Services for victims/survivors of domestic violence

Reporting | Collection of forensic evidence | Safety planning | Risk assessment
Social work/counselling services | Referral to community agencies
Cultural-interpretation services | Follow-up services



Domestic violence is not reported to the police unless the client requests it. The staff at the centres does not release any information unless the client signs the appropriate release forms.

If a client tells the sexual assault/domestic violence nurse that there are children under the age of 16 in the home who are either witnessing domestic abuse or experiencing child abuse, the law requires that this be reported to the Children’s Aid Society (CAS). The client is encouraged to make the call to CAS.

Collection of forensic evidence

If the client has been sexually assaulted, a Sexual Assault Evidence Kit is used to collect medical evidence from the client’s body and clothing to assist in legal proceedings. This evidence must be collected within 72 hours after the assault.

If the client is unsure of having police involvement, this evidence can be collected and kept frozen at the centre for up to six months, unless otherwise stated by the individual centre.

Photography is available to clients as an option. Photographic negatives and raw digital data remain the property of the hospital. Copies of the pictures or electronic files can only be released with the patient’s written consent.

Safety planning

It is recognized that, for many reasons, clients sometimes choose to return home to an abusive situation. Assessing an individual’s safety if they return home is an important part of the nurse’s role. Information and strategies are provided to assist the individual in the event that another violent situation arises. Written information is given, but only if it is safe to do so.

Risk assessment

The client will be guided through a series of questions that may help predict the likelihood and severity of a repeated assault by the batterer.

Social work/counselling services

Because the counselling services offered are different at each centre, clients will either be provided with counselling from a specially trained staff member at the centre or referred to an appropriate community agency. These services are confidential within the limits of the law.

Referral to community agencies

The centres have access to community resources such as counselling, legal services, shelters and 24-hour hotlines. Clients will be referred as appropriate.

Cultural-interpretation services

The centres make every attempt to provide sign language and cultural interpreters when necessary. The use of family members and non-trained staff is discouraged.

Follow-up services

Many centres have a follow-up nurse who checks on clients a few days after they have been seen at the centre, providing it is safe to do so. This follow-up may be a phone call or a one-on-one visit where the client returns to the centre. This provides an opportunity for the nurse to:

  • Check on the client’s emotional and physical wellbeing
  • Answer any questions
  • Review the safety plan
  • Conduct a risk assessment
  • Re-document or photograph any injuries that have become more apparent
  • Test for sexually transmitted infections
  • Provide the results of tests for sexually transmitted infections
  • Provide referrals

Last update: 06 December 2011