Course Description:

Many survivors of domestic and sexual violence are exposed to substance use, either through their own use, the use of a partner or ex-partner, or both. Substance use is often used both as a coping mechanism of (by) a survivor and a method of coercion by the abusive partner. Historically, substance use services have generally not been included as onsite partners at Family Justice Centers (FJC). Often, substance use service providers have not been invited into the FJC framework because such programs are not perceived as “survivor-centered.”

Similarly, substance use programs have historically seen themselves as separate from victim-centered service programs and they generally serve both people who have been victimized and people who cause harm. Today, however, there is a growing understanding of trauma, health behaviors, and coping responses, and with it, an opportunity for creating transformational change in the provision of more holistic, hope-centered, and trauma-informed substance use advocacy and services in Family Justice Centers.

The At the Intersection of Domestic Violence and Substance Use: A Toolkit for Hope, Healing, and Advocacy for Family Justice Centers was developed in conjunction with and serves as an accompaniment to this 8-part Virtual Learning Series. The toolkit offers a comprehensive array of resources, guidance, examples, and tips to enhance the implementation of the lessons offered through this Virtual Learning Series are provided. The series explores the role of substance use in the lives of survivors and offers a framework and resources for nurturing hope in FJC clients who experience substance use as part of the trauma or victimization they face from an abusive partner.

Your Instructors:

G.zapata Bw

Gabriela Zapata-Alma, LCSW, CADC
Director of Policy and Practice for Domestic Violence and Substance Use
National Center on Domestic Violence, Trauma, & Mental Health



Raeanne Passantino

Raeanne Passantino
Former Assistant Director, Family Justice Center Alliance
Alliance for HOPE International



Course Topics:

Lesson 1:  Understanding the Dynamics and Context of Substance Use for Survivors of Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault

Click Here for Corresponding SU/FJC Toolkit Chapter 2

Module Overview:

The relationship between domestic violence, sexual assault, trauma, mental health, and substance use (including substance use coercion)

Trauma-informed and anti-stigma framework for contextualizing substance use (and related behaviors) for survivors of domestic violence and/or sexual assault.

Why might survivors use substances?


Lesson 2:  Introduction to Substance Use and Commonly Used Substances

Click Here for Corresponding SU/FJC Toolkit Chapter 3

Module Overview:

Patterns and dynamics of substance use

Women and substance use

Commonly used substances and their effects


Lesson 3:  Confidentiality and Mandate Reporting

Module Overview:

Substance use and confidentiality

Mandated reporting requirements

Trauma-informed approaches to mandated reporting


Lesson 4:  Overdose prevention education and response for survivors of domestic violence and/or sexual assault

Module Overview:

Overdose risk factors

Recognizing and responding to opioid and stimulant overdose

Providing education on overdose

Creating an overdose prevention plan

Information on Naloxone (the overdose antidote) including how to help survivors access it


Lesson 5:  Substance use disorder treatment and recovery support

Module Overview:

Formal treatment system

Community-based recovery resources (including mutual aid)

Gender-responsive and trauma-informed services for survivors of domestic violence & sexual assault

Promising practices in creating sustainable collaborations


Lesson 6:  Responding to substance use and evidence-based methods in screening, brief intervention, and referral to treatment (SBIRT)

Module Overview:

Trauma-informed approaches to conversations about substance use

Supporting survivors who appear intoxicated

SBIRT:  an evidence-based approach to screening, brief intervention, and referral to treatment


Lesson 7:  Supporting parenting survivors who use substances

Module Overview:

Prevalence and Potential Concerns

Supporting parents and children impacted by substance use

Evidence-supported clinical interventions that support parents who use substances and their children


Lesson 8:  Integrated clinical approaches

Module Overview:

Clinical assessment

Evidence-supported interventions

Continuing recovery planning and aftercare services


Su Toolkit Cover