How to have a conversation about Domestic Violence

Three small images with speech bubbles saying "take warning signs seriously," "I'm worried about you," and "Are you okay?"




the warning signs and risk factors of abuse.

There are powerful societal reasons why seeing and naming abuse can be challenging.

  • Abusive behaviour makes people feel uncomfortable and/or afraid. The social norm to “mind your own business” is hard to overcome.
  • People experiencing abuse themselves can often have difficulty ‘seeing’ what is happening to them as abuse or even recognize the danger they are in.
  • As a society, we are trained in many ways not to see.

Learning to See it – Name it – Check it - is a matter of understanding it as a process of small steps. SNCit to open the door for support.

SEE it:

  • Notice a gut feeling that something is not right
  • Find the willingness to look squarely at the situation
  • What are the warning signs? Are there risk factors involved?

NAME it:

  • Name your concern; to yourself first
  • Name your concern “I am worried about you…”
  • Name the reason for your concern; “I saw or I heard” JUST the facts!
  • Be careful not to judge or jump to conclusions – it may not be abuse


  • Don’t sit in isolation – overcome your hesitation
  • Check the situation; is it dangerous? Trust your instincts. If so, call 911 
  • Check yourself; don't try to fix it – ask questions
  • Check with a professional e.g. your office safety coordinator, HR Manager, woman abuse counsellor: Name what you saw (just the facts) and then ask questions about what to do
  • Check it with the woman; is she open to hearing from you at this time? Are you the right person to ask her about the situation?

Helpful suggestions for what to say: I'm concerned about you. Is everything OK? Is there anything I can do to help?” “I am here for you.” And if you feel she is open to it, “Are you being hurt?”

Be prepared to handle a disclosure – “I believe you.” “It’s not your fault.”

SNCit to reduce or eliminate isolation and to increase safety (for everyone)