Challenging Types of Crisis

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Of these five categories, domestic violence and danger to self may be the most challenging to deal with. In both instances, individuals can be resistant to receiving help. In the case of domestic violence, those suffering the abuse often reject assistance or hide the signs of abuse. In the case of danger to self, the signs are not always clear. The consequences of not responding adequately to a person with suicidal thoughts can be quite serious. While these situations can be extremely stressful, you should not feel that you have to go through them alone. You have probably had only limited training dealing with these types of situations. But that’s okay, because you are not necessarily a counselor, you are not responsible for fixing the problem. As a caring professional, it may be tempting to fix every problem or become too involved. But in these situations, it helps to seek out a supervisor to discuss the limits of your role. Your key role is to make the correct referral or phone call for a more qualified professional to take over the situation.

Your knowledge of the situation often depends on the comfort level of victims of abuse.

If a domestic partner contacts the Family Assistance Center stating that a partner is attacking him or her, the immediate response should be to contact the police. Often, however, evidence of abuse will reveal itself after the fact. For example, a Family Program staff member may see bruises or be told minimized versions of what occurred. Victims may report that they fell down the stairs rather than admit an instance of physical abuse. Be patient – it can be difficult for an adult to admit to being abused. Often, people are ashamed that such events occur in their lives. At the same time, individuals may be fearful of what might happen if they report the abuse. Another reason for individuals’ reluctance to seek help may be financial need. Housing and child provisions may depend on the income of the abuser. Whatever the reason may be for the abused person withholding information about the abuse, you should help victims understand that things will only get better once the abuse is reported.

Click to open interactivity Be patient and build trust to help victims decide to report abuse.

Be patient and build trust to help victims decide to report abuse.

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It can be difficult to read the signs that exist in a danger-to-self crisis.

Some people make statements such as, “My family would be better off without me,” “Life is too hard,” and “Pretty soon you won’t have to worry about me.” Such statements should be responded to immediately. Simply ask the individual if he or she has ever had any thoughts about suicide. If the answer is yes, you will need to ask additional questions such as what is the plan for suicide and does anyone else know about these suicidal thoughts and plans. At this point, you can let the person know of your concern, and let him or her know you want to seek help. It will be important to contact a family member as well as a supervisor. If one is not available, you will need to remain with the person until you can get help. If an individual abruptly leaves, you will need to contact the police. If the person is ready for help, a family member can take him or her to the emergency room for evaluation.

When a person who is clearly a danger to him- or herself refuses to go, the police can escort the individual to the emergency room. No matter what, the person should not be left alone. If an individual is combative about going to the E.R. it would be unsafe for a family member or caregiver to escort the person. This will be a task for the police.