R U OK? Dealing with Abuse Issues

The PREPARE/ENRICH assessment contains several questions dealing with abuse. The first three items deal with alcohol and drug use by parents, partner and the individual. The next four questions focus on a variety of abuse (verbal, emotional, physical and sexual) between parents, by parent, by partner and by others. The last two questions ask about unhealthy sexual behavior and use of pornography.

The four abuse questions were designed to be global questions since it would be too intrusive and too lengthy to ask detailed questions about each of these issues. However, if a person does indicate a concern, it would signal that this is an important area to discuss with him/her in more detail. Because some of the issues might relate to abuse by or from the partner, this more detailed discussion should initially be done individually with each person if concerns are initially raised.

If any type of abuse is reported on the items dealing with verbal, emotional, physical or sexual abuse, these are issues that may require a referral to a mental health professional who is trained in handling domestic violence and can help determine if the state requires a mandated report. In many states, mandated reporting of abuse applies only when minors (under 18), dependent adults, and the elderly are the reported victims. Mandated reprinting laws vary by state. You should know the mandated reporting guidelines for abuse in your state for your professional field.

Facts About Abuse:
Researchers believe that around one in four Australian women will experience domestic violence at time in their life. Although domestic violence can effect anyone, regardless of their socioeconomic status or their racial or cultural background, women who are young, Indigenous, have a disability, or who live in rural areas are at greater risk.

Abuse is related to the personality characteristics of the two persons in the couple relationship. The Relationship Dynamics section of the report focuses on the four dimensions: assertiveness, self confidence, avoidance and partner dominance. People who are at the highest risk for abuse are those who rate their partner high in dominance and rate themselves high in avoidance, low in assertiveness and low in self confidence.

Know Your Professional Limitations
If you are not a licensed professional therapist or counselor, you should establish a relationship with one or more licensed professionals with whom you can consult on a regular basis. This will enable you to refer couples who have more serious individual and relationship problems.

Types of problems that typically require a referral to a licensed professional include:

  • Abuse
  • Drug Addictions
  • Alcohol Dependence
  • Ongoing Infidelity
  • Serious Mental Health Disorders such as:
    – Clinical Depression
    – Bi-Polar Disorder
    – Anxiety Disorders
  • Danger to self or others (suicidal thoughts or intentions)

Make sure the professional therapists (psychologists, counselors, social workers) you refer to have been trained to work with couples as well as individuals. Marital and Family Therapists (MFT) are specifically trained to work with couples. Licensed mental health professionals can be located in your area by searching online, using printed local directories, or by contacting the offices in your state which handle licensing for the various types of mental health professionals.

R U OK? wants to inspire all people to ask 'are you ok?' to support anyone struggling with life. Visit or if you need crisis support call Lifeline on 13 11 14. If your need is life threatening call 000.

For online crisis counselling, you can chat with Lifeline counsellors using their online crisis chat service (available 7:30-10:30pm AEST Mon-Thur)

Contract: or call today (02) 9520 4049

PREPARE/ENRICH is a customised online assessment tool that identifies each couples unique strength and growth areas. Based on their assessment results, a facilitator provides feedback sessions, helping couples to discuss and understand their results while teaching them proven relationship skills.


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