A Handwritten Note Is Exactly What You Shouldn't Do If You See Domestic Abuse

October 6th 2016

Laura Donovan

A note directed at a man who screamed at his girlfriend has ignited a larger conversation about how bystanders can properly react to domestic abuse.

The letter, which went viral on Reddit earlier this week, condemns a man for shouting at his partner, and was apparently placed on the door of a college dorm room. There is another Post-It note below it that expresses a similar sentiment:


It is unclear what exactly happened and where this note was placed, but ATTN: reached out to the original poster on Reddit for more information.

The image sparked heated debate on Reddit, with many users criticizing the way the note writers responded to a possible domestic abuse situation.

One user wrote that calling the police would have been better than leaving a note:


Another person recommended calling the cops to avoid entering a potentially dangerous situation as a bystander:


One user said the man who shouted at his girlfriend was probably aware that other people could hear him, and might not have been convinced to stop yelling at her based on a complaint from someone else.

A victim of abuse responded that her own abusive ex-boyfriend would purposely make a scene in front of others to embarrass her:


What is the right thing to do when you believe domestic abuse is taking place?


A photo posted by NCADV (@ncadv) on

Ruth Glenn, the executive director of the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence (NCADV), told ATTN: that calling the police is the right thing to do when you witness domestic abuse as a bystander:

"As a bystander, if you hear what you think is domestic violence, we'll say it's a neighbor in an apartment, you should absolutely call 911. I think the dangers sometimes of intervening yourself are not good. When it's that type of situation, which is a neighbor and you hear what you think is domestic violence going on, you would call 911 rather than intervene."

Stepping into a situation where you think you hear domestic violence could put both the bystander at risk and also put the victim in even more risk, "particularly if you haven't had training such as law enforcement might have to intervene in domestic violence situations," Glenn said.

NCADV's website includes additional information and resources on its website about how to respond when you believe someone you know is experiencing domestic violence.