How to Help Someone

80614279If you have a friend, family member, neighbour, or colleague who is victim of domestic abuse, encourage them to contact the local women’s shelter or your local community services such as victim services. Experienced, empathetic counsellors will be able to provide confidential information and help them to develop a safety plan.

If they are in immediate danger – call 911

  • Let them know you are there to help. Listen to them without being critical or judgmental.
  • Assure them that they are not to blame for the abuse and that they’re not alone.
  • Help them by providing for any immediate medical and personal needs and make sure that they, and their children, are safe.
  • Gather and pass on information about relevant community programs and assistance: victim services, shelters, sexual assault centres, legal aid, financial assistance, etc.
  • Encourage them to call the DAS helpline at 604-640-7549 / 1-888-833-7733. You may call that line as well for information/suggestions on how to best support your friend.
  • Offer to plan a role in their safety plan which might involve providing transportation, safeguarding pre-packed luggage, documents and/or money that may be required in an emergency.
  • Give them time to make their own decisions and respect their confidentiality.


Do you know the hand signal for someone calling for help? Coined during the pandemic for men, women and children to silently reach out for help during lockdowns, the signal has become a nationwide (and soon worldwide) signal for help. This signal means the person is in a difficult, potentially dangerous, situation and isn’t able to safely make the phone call themself.

If you see this signal:

  • Remain calm.
  • Throw back a subtle okay/thumbs up signal to reassure them you’ve got the message – but not draw attention by others.
  • Call the police. Let them know the person is in distress and cannot make the call themself.

Silent hand signal that helped rescue U.S. teen was originally created in Canada | CTV News


When a victim of domestic abuse is ready to move forward to a life without violence, they may not know how to start, or they may still not be safe to do so. We can all help by being more informed of the subtle signs of domestic abuse and signals for help. To learn more, call our education department to book a speaker for your next group or class meeting. 604.585.6688