Know How to Safely Respond

If you witness words or actions that are disrespectful, abusive or harmful to someone, or if you suspect someone is being abused, there are a variety of ways in which you can respond. However, it is important to remember that situations involving violent people can escalate and become unsafe, so you should exercise caution to avoid putting yourself in harm's way.

Call 911 or the police

If you feel that you or someone close to you is in immediate danger, call 911 or the police.

Report child abuse

If you have reason to believe a child is being abused, you are required by law to report it.  Call 911 or the police or child welfare services in your area.

Offer your assistance

If you see someone being harassed or abused, simply showing the person s/he is not alone may help. Asking "are you okay?" or "is there any way I can help?" can take the power away from the perpetrator. If you feel that such an intervention will put you at risk, you should call 911 or the police.

Walk away or refuse to join in

When someone treats another in a derogatory manner, you may walk away or refuse to join in. Ignoring or laughing at these kinds of comments not only implies you condone them, but may also encourage the perpetrators to continue. When you walk away from abusive behaviour, you show perpetrators that you don't agree and won't act as an audience.

Speak out

Tell others that you don't agree with derogatory, degrading, abusive and violent actions towards women and girls. Be direct about what you have seen. For example:

  • "I don't think that joke is funny." "That joke makes me uncomfortable."
  • "Leave her alone." "I don't like how you are treating her. Stop it."
  • "Your words/actions are uncalled for. What you are saying/doing is wrong."
  • "How would you feel if another person did this to your mother, grandmother, sister, wife or daughter?"
Date modified: