Disclosure of domestic or sexual violence is complex and often risky for the victim. A victim of domestic or sexual violence often finds it difficult to reveal that they are in a violent situation. This may be due to shame, embarrassment, or fear of the abuser or perpetrator. Screening is an important step that helps a person reveal domestic or sexual violence. Tell the person that:
- they do not have to answer the screening questions, but if they do, any information they give is kept confidential; and
- any information they give is only used to determine eligibility for special services and relief from program requirements.
Screen for a potential domestic or sexual violence problem:
- during the Intake Assessment;
- during the Intensive Case Review;
- when a client requests a SWAP from Medical to TANF;
- before making a referral for child support enforcement or paternity establishment; and
- whenever staff suspect a person may have a domestic or sexual violence problem.
Sexual violence differs from domestic violence in that the assault or intimidation is not necessarily perpetrated by a member of the victim's household, and the perpetrator may or may not be known to the victim. For example, a person sexually assaulted by a stranger is a victim of sexual violence.
Stalking is a form of domestic or sexual violence. Stalking includes placing another person under surveillance and threatening immediate or future bodily harm, sexual assault, confinement or restraint and the threat is directed toward that person or a family member of that person. Stalking includes cyberstalking, which includes harassment of another person through electronic communications. Communications may be via telephone, mobile phone, computer, e-mail, video recorder, fax machine, telex, pager, radio, or any other means of electronic communications.
Authorize TANF benefits as presumed eligible (P4) if the person claims they are unable to provide verifications due to past or present violence. (See PM 17-02-01-b)
For good cause claim for not cooperating with Child Support Enforcement, see PM 24-02-04.
Refer the person to a Domestic/Sexual Violence program when the need for such services is identified. Include the referral in the Responsibility and Services Plan (RSP).
When someone enters a Domestic/Sexual Violence program on their own, approve them for this activity.
An applicant or client must sign the Consent for Disclosure statement on the back of the referral form to allow the provider to respond regarding their need for services.
A person does not have to accept or follow through with the referral. There can be many reasons why the person does not want to accept or follow through with the referral. Do not deny benefits or sanction the person if they do not accept or follow through with the referral.
A victim of domestic or sexual violence may also be eligible for a Family Violence Exclusion (see PM 21-01-05).