Safety Signal for Domestic Violence


Signal for Help is a simple single-hand gesture that can be visually and silently displayed during video calls, to alert family, friends, or colleagues that an individual needs help and that they would like someone to check in safely with them. 

The Signal for Help was started in April of 2020 by the Canadian Women’s Foundation (CWF).  They launched it in response to increased risk of gender-based violence and increased video calls during Covid.  The Signal for Help is a way for someone in need of assistance to quietly signal that they need someone to reach out to them safely.



Safety Signal Download and Print

Poster, Half page handouts and Table Tents (all printable PDF 8.5×11).  Bring them to your area workshop or you next club meeting!

Download Poster


Download Leaflet

– 2 per page 8.5×11

Download Table Tent

8.5×11 fold in half

Explore the original Canadian Women’s Foundation Materials and information, including toolkits in English, French and Spanish here:


From the Canadian Guide; Downloadable here.

What Do I Do if I See Somebody Use the Signal for Help?

Reach out to them safely to find out what they need. They may ask you to listen and be there for them. They may ask for help finding services. They may want you to call someone to help them. Let the person using the Signal take the lead!

How Can I Reach Out Safely?

Ask questions that can be answered with a “yes” or “no”.


“Would you like me to call a shelter or service on your behalf?”
“Should I look for services that might help you and call you back?”
“Would you like me to call 911?”

Send a text, a message, or email message, and ask general questions.

“How are you doing?”
“Get in touch when you can, I would love to catch up.”

If someone tells you that they are experiencing abuse, here’s how you can support:

  • Focus on the person being hurt.

Your job is to support them. Make sure you are not putting your anger, shock, sadness, or fear first in the conversation.

  • Everyone copes with abuse differently.

They may do things differently than you. That is okay. Be there to support them as they explore what works for them.

  • Listen and let them lead.

Instead of telling them what you would do or what they should do, ask them how you can best support them.

  • Be judgement-free.

Instead of saying “What did you do?”, “How did you make them mad?”, “Why don’t you leave?” or “You chose this relationship,”


“It’s not your fault.” “I’m here for you.” “How are you doing right now?”

  • Be patient and open-minded.

Abusive relationships are complicated, scary, confusing, and traumatic. Figuring things out takes time. You may need to have more conversations with this person. Don’t push. There is no one right answer, no quick fix, and everyone deals with these things differently.

We can practice being caring, patient, and non-judgmental.

History – Safety Signal for DV

Launched by Canadian Women’s Foundation in 2020

 “Public health directives on home isolation compound the danger for those living in abusive situations, and abusers may monitor their devices to ensure that what is going on inside the home is not shared,” said Paulette Senior, President and CEO of the Canadian Women’s Foundation. “This new reality requires new methods of communication to help those facing gender-based violence. We know that internet and video calling are not readily accessible to some. Shelters and support services are doing everything they can to respond to the surge in violence. Signal for Help seeks to contribute to these efforts.” 

The Canadian Women’s Foundation is calling on other organizations to help spread awareness of Signal for Help. Their hope is that support services and organizations will encourage the use of this gesture to let women, girls, and trans and non-binary people know that they don’t need to suffer in silence. 

United States DV  Resources

Call 1-800-799-7233

National Domestic Violence Hotline:  1-800-799-7233

Online domestic violence shelter search:

Trans Lifeline:  1-877-565-8860,

National Sexual Assault Hotline:  1-800-656-HOPE (4673),

National Suicide Prevention Hotline:  1-800-273-8255,

United Way Helpline:  Call 211,