You may have seen the image below pop up in your Facebook feed. Here’s what it means,
The Black Dot Campaign is an idea created to help survivors of domestic violence discretely call for help. On their Facebook page, the Black Dot Campaign describes the concept as “A social media campaign which was launched to offer sufferers of domestic violence support has been pulled over fears it could alert abusers to their calls for help. The Black Dot Campaign encourages those subject to domestic violence to draw a simple black dot on the palm of their hands as a sign to alert others to their situation.”
While this campaign is full of good intentions, it could pose a risk to the people who try it. Dina Polkinghorne, executive director of Project Sanctuary, discussed the Black Dot Campaign in a radio interview that was reported in the Ukiah Daily Journal,
The Black Dot campaign is a very well-meaning idea, but a bad idea nonetheless. I believe that the woman who started the campaign is a survivor herself. The campaign is spurring conversations but there are better ways to go.
The campaign is getting a lot of attention, so abusers may also be aware of it. They might question why their partner would have the dot on their hand. A well-meaning family member could also see the dot, and inadvertently compound the violence.
The Black Dot was a way to silently tell someone that you are in a domestic violence situation, but when would it be appropriate to use it? At the grocery store? At the doctor’s office? Someone who was being completely controlled would be told by the abuser that they want to be in the exam room, so the victim would not be able to tell their doctor that they were in a domestic violence situation.
Most medical professionals are highly trained to look for cues that might suggest someone was being abused. They would ask the alleged abuser to leave the room to have a confidential conversation, and the black dot would not be necessary.
If you’re a domestic violence victim and you are alone with a friend, you have an opportunity to say something to them. There are many options available.
If someone suspects that a friend or family member are being abused, they can call Project Sanctuary. Because services are confidential, people sometimes think that they can’t call us and just talk. All staff have signed confidentiality agreements. We don’t even discuss cases among staff in order to protect the confidentiality of our clients. If people are concerned about local confidentiality, they can call any domestic violence agency or hotline.
If you or anyone you know is the victim of domestic violence, please contact the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233 | 1-800-787-3224 (TTY).