Canadian Women’s Foundation flags low public confidence in knowing what to say and do, but texting SIGNAL to 540-540 will help people feel more prepared

A national poll conducted by the Canadian Women’s Foundation identifies very low levels of confidence in knowing what to say and do to support someone experiencing gender-based violence.

The survey found about two thirds (64%) of people in Canada know a woman who has experienced physical, sexual, or emotional abuse.

“Chances are that everyone knows a survivor of gendered violence like physical, sexual, or emotional abuse. And with a higher risk of this abuse during the pandemic, it’s especially crucial that we all know how to help those going through this often-hidden abuse,” says Paulette Senior, President & CEO of the Canadian Women’s Foundation. “Offering judgement-free support is something we can all prepare ourselves for.”

Only 1 in 6 people in Canada are very confident that they would know what to say or do to support someone experiencing sexual or emotional abuse. And only 1 in 5 are very confident that they would know what to say or do to support someone experiencing physical abuse. More specifically, only a fifth (19%) are very confident that they would know supportive things to say to someone experiencing physical, sexual, or emotional abuse, and only a quarter (26%) are very confident that they would know how to refer someone to helpful and reliable support services.

“November is National Domestic Violence Awareness Month, and today is the start of 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-based Violence. That’s why we’re giving people tools to get very confident in their ability to give judgement-free support to someone experiencing gender-based violence,” says Senior. “We’re encouraging every single Canadian to become a Signal for Help Responder.”

If you see the Signal for Help or know someone who may be experiencing gender-based violence, you can sign up to be a Signal for Help Responder. Visit or text SIGNAL to 540-540 to get a free Signal Responder Action Guide.

The project has been supported by Women and Gender Equality Canada.

The Canadian Women’s Foundation is a national leader in the movement for gender equality in Canada. Through funding, research, advocacy, and knowledge sharing, we work to achieve systemic change. We support women, girls, and gender-diverse people to move out of violence, out of poverty, and into confidence and leadership. Since 1991, our generous donors and supporters have contributed more than $150 million to fund over 2,500 life-transforming programs throughout Canada.

Maru/Matchbox conducted a survey on behalf of The Canadian Women’s Foundation on a national omnibus. The omnibus was conducted from October 15th to 17th among a representative sample of n=1515 Canadians. The sample was weighted to census. Released by Maru Public Opinion, this research was conducted by Maru/Matchbox who used its panel and data services provider Maru/Blue to survey a randomly selected sample of Canadians who are members of its Voice Canada online panel, and then weighted the results to be nationally representative. The detailed findings are at: Although the research sample for this study includes asking if Canadians know transgender and gender nonbinary individuals who have experienced violence, sample sizes are not large enough to draw general conclusions about their experiences.