What to Do When You See or Suspect Abuse

Domestic violence is a pervasive public health and community safety issue. To prevent and end domestic violence, we all need to be part of the solution.

Domestic violence has often been viewed as a private, family matter. But it’s not. It’s a social issue. A community safety issue. A public health epidemic. It can impact anyone, regardless of gender, age, sexual orientation, race, or education and income level.

To prevent and end domestic violence, as a society we need to acknowledge and understand that victims never deserve, nor should be blamed for, the abuse they endure–abusers are skilled at using power and control over their victims. We need to be willing to speak up and out against unhealthy relationship behaviors and to support victims and survivors in restoring safety and autonomy.

If You See or Suspect Abuse

Often, the best way to help a victim of domestic violence isn’t through direct intervention–which can be dangerous for everyone involved.

But that doesn’t mean there aren’t important steps that friends, family members and bystanders who witness abusive situations can take to support victims and help them get to safety.

When friends or family members are being abused:

  • Call police if you see/hear abuse.
  • Ask if they’re safe or need someone to talk to.
  • Explain that free, confidential help is available help for victims and their children at local domestic violence programs
  • Offer a ride to a local shelter, a place to make a phone call or to baby-sit while they attend appointments.
  • Carry the number of the National Domestic Violence Hotline, 1-800-799-SAFE (7233), in your wallet in case you meet someone who needs it.

When friends or family members are abusers:

  • Call police if you see/hear abuse.
  • Tell them there are no excuses for abuse and they may lose their families, friends, homes and jobs if it doesn’t stop.
  • Hold them accountable for their behavior.
  • Support their efforts to locate and obtain appropriate treatment.