Asking screening questions

Family violence screening questions are structurally integrated as part of the Victorian AOD intake and assessment tools.

However, a client might be hesitant to disclose family violence experiences at start of service engagement. As such, it is important to continue to monitor for signs and indicators of family violence.

Family violence might be disclosed at a later stage, after rapport and trust has been established. In this case, the MARAM Screening and Identification Tool  may be used.

Further information can be found in the MARAM practice guide Identification of Family Violence Risk.


In an AOD context, additional questions focussed on substance use may be used to identify family violence. Some examples of questions to consider include[1][2]:

  • How does your partner treat you when you use substances?
  • Who decides what you use and how much you use?
  • What happens when you do not have substances in the house?
  • Who is responsible for sourcing substances?
  • What does your partner do if you say NO?
  • I wonder how using more than you want to might be related to living in constant fear or being told that you don’t matter?
  • I wonder how your struggle with overdosing might be related to feeling trapped and seeing no way out?
  • Have you ever tried to cut down on your substance use? Has your partner ever tried to stop you from accessing treatment or cutting down? Have you ever been annoyed by someone criticising your drinking or drug use?
  • Has someone’s criticising your substance use made you feel afraid?
  • Has your partner used your substance use as a way to threaten you?
  • Have you ever felt guilty about using substances? Has someone reinforced these feelings of guilt? Does your partner shame you?
  • Have you ever felt coerced to engage in activities (e.g. sexual acts, theft) that compromised your integrity, and then felt guilty about it?


[1] National Center on Domestic Violence, Trauma & Mental Health: Coercion Related to Mental Health and Substance Use in the Context of Intimate Partner Violence: A Toolkit for Screening, Assessment, and Brief Counseling in Primary Care and Behavioral Health Settings Carole Warshaw, MD and Erin Tinnon, MSW, LSW March 2018

[2] Turning Point Connect & Learn: Substance Use & Family violence, Identifying and Understanding Substance Use Coercion for AOD Clinicians, October 2019