Be more than a bystander....Break the silence
Quick Escape

Know someone being abused in their relationship?

CALL 911 for immediate help from police if the person is in DANGER or you fear for their safety.

CALL 1-877-977-0007 if the person is not in immediate danger, and you want to talk about their situation. You can call this 24-hour domestic violence information/crisis line to discuss options and get information about services available in your area.

Tips for talking to someone who is being abused - show them that you care.

Everybody deserves to be in a healthy relationship free from violence and abuse. If you suspect that someone you know is being abused, there are things you can do to help.

Tips on how to help:

  • Speak to the person being abused alone, in a safe, private place.
  • Discuss options, and encourage the person to make their own decisions. Telling the person being abused that they "have to do" something only takes away more of their power.
  • Encourage the person being abused to call the province-wide domestic violence information/crisis line (1-877-977-0007), or to speak with other support services.
  • Suggest that they develop a safety plan in case of emergency (for help doing so, call the domestic violence information/crisis line at 1-877-977-0007).
  • Encourage the person being abused to be cautious about using computers, text messaging, etc. as the abusive person may be monitoring their online activities.
  • Offer to help in ways that you are comfortable with and feel safe doing. Be clear with yourself and the person being abused about what kind of support you can give.
  • Avoid making negative comments about the abusive person. Otherwise, the person being abused may feel the need to defend them and minimize the abuse.
  • Respect their privacy. Keep the information confidential unless the person being abused specifically asks you to talk to someone about it, or if you are required to do so by law (if a person under 18 years old is being abused or is at risk).
    • If child abuse is a concern, immediately contact the province-wide intake and emergency after-hours child and family services line at 1-866-345-9241.
  • Respect their decision if they do not want to talk about the abuse. They may be afraid, ashamed or just not ready to discuss it. It may take some time for them to feel safe and ready to talk about their situation.
  • Don't confront the abusive person - this may place you and person being abused in greater danger. If you feel that someone is in immediate danger, call 911 or the local number for police.
  • Be patient and continue to offer support. Leaving a relationship is often a process, not an event.

Ten things to say to someone experiencing domestic violence:

  1. I believe you.
  2. This is not your fault and you don't deserve to be abused.
  3. I'm afraid for your safety.
  4. I'm afraid for your children's safety.
  5. If [the abusive person] doesn't get help, the abuse will probably continue and may get worse.
  6. I am here for you whenever you need me. OR I am here to listen and support you.
  7. You are not alone - there are shelters and other services that can help you.
  8. What can I do to help you?
  9. There is no excuse for family violence - people feel angry, but everyone has a choice in how they respond to the situation.
  10. Do you have a safety plan in case of emergency? If not, you could call 1-877-977-0777 (the toll-free domestic violence information/crisis line) to get help developing one.

Ten things not to say to someone experiencing domestic violence:

  1. Just leave if it's so bad. OR How could you possibly stay with [the abusive person] after that?
  2. Did you provoke it? OR What did you do to make [the abusive person] so mad?
  3. You should go back and try a little harder.
  4. People make mistakes; you should give [the abusive person] another chance.
  5. It is only because [the abusive person] was drunk/high/depressed/etc.
  6. [The abusive person] seems like a nice person to me, that doesn't sound like something he/she would do.
  7. I haven't noticed any bruises or cuts on you - how can I be sure you're telling the truth?
  8. You should stay for your children's sake.
  9. How about I talk to [the abusive person] for you?
  10. If you go back, I won't be here for you next time.

Adapted from:

Action ontarienne contre la violence faite aux femmes (AOcVF) & the Ontario Coalition of Rape Crisis Centres (OCRCC). (2012). Retrieved from Draw the Line campaign website:

Queensland Government. (2010). Support Someone Who is Experiencing Domestic and Family Violence. Retrieved from Queensland Government website: