A Calgary non-profit organization has begun offering training to help members of the public identify potential signs of domestic violence that could prove invaluable in times of crisis.

Sagesse, which offers support to victims of domestic violence, is attempting to dispel common myths while bringing awareness to signs of abuse. According to organizers, friends and family are often the first to notice a problem but they may not know where to turn to access help for their loved one.

"If you don't see yourself as the typical victim of domestic violence, you are less likely to call a service for support,” explained Carrie McManus, director of programs at Sagesse. “So if you are talking to your friends, how can we build your friends’ capacity to say ‘Hey, I see what’s happening’."

The ‘Stand By’ workshops, which are open to anyone, explore patterns of abuse.

McManus says many domestic abuse survivors are willing to confide in a loved one and the program is designed to help open the conversation. “We want to give them opportunities to have positive responses when they talk to those people and to really build a community across Alberta that knows how to recognize domestic violence.”

Melony Bundt, a survivor of domestic abuse several years ago at the hands of her then husband, says the emotional pain remains.

“He said ‘if you leave me I will track you down and kill you and the kids’,” said Bundt. “In my mind, I (thought) if he will do that if I leave him, how do I know he’s not going to do that if I stay?”

Bundt says the physical marks, the bruises and scars, on her body were noticeable but were never addressed in conversation. “I think if someone had known how to approach me and said ‘I think this is what is happening to you’, I think it would have helped.”

Domestic abuse continues to be prevalent in Calgary. On average, the Calgary Police Service responds to two domestic violence-related calls an hour and those are only the instances of abuse that are reported.

For additional information regarding the Stand By program visit Sagesse - Domestic Violence Education and Workshops

With files from CTV's Stephanie Wiebe