If you spot a black dot on a woman’s hand it’s not a speck of dirt or a new tattoo trend. It’s something far more serious — and something we should all be talking about.
The premise is simple but so, so clever: victims who are simply too scared to seek help, or speak out about the abuse, are being encouraged to draw a small black dot in the palm of their hand.
Video credit: Black Dot Campaign/YouTube
Only a few days after being launched online the Black Dot Facebook page has reached a staggering 4.8 million people.
“I was in an abusive relationship for five years and I only got out when I was assaulted so badly by my ex, and the father of my children, that I feared for my life,” the campaign founder* told Netmums. “I don’t want other women to get to that point — or go beyond it. My ex was not always by my side and I had ample opportunity to tell someone what was happening to me but I never did. I would rehearse what I would say to someone a thousand times — but the words would never come out.
“That is why I decided to launch this campaign,” she went on. “I thought, every woman has an eye liner or a mascara and if the police or social workers came to their house they could go to the loo, draw the dot, flash their hand to one of the agency members and then rub it away. It’s a way of reaching out without verbalising what is happening — something I struggled to do until the wounds spoke for themselves. It’s not the perfect solution but if it helps just one woman it has been worth it.”
Since starting the campaign the founder has received 10 emails from people who have managed to get away from abusive partners, and to a place of safety, and several people have shared their personal experiences on the Facebook page:
Alongside the huge amount of support for the campaign, some have expressed concerns that a black dot on a woman’s hand might be noticed by her abuser, which could put her at even greater risk.
“The original ethos for this campaign was to enable a victim to put a dot on their hand around someone they trusted to enable a conversation to start, so they could open that door and hopefully start a process of seeking professional help,” said the Black Dot Facebook page. “This isn’t the solution that will help everyone, if anything it should help people realise what abuse is, how it affects people and how to access help. If you see a black dot or are approached by someone for help, if safe to do so take them to safety and get them in contact with the relevant agency. Intervention and support should only be done by professionals.”
The overwhelming response to the Black Dot campaign shouldn’t come as a surprise, given that one in four women in the U.K. is a victim of domestic violence every week and two U.K. women are killed by a partner or ex-partner every week.
Remember, domestic violence doesn’t just have to be physical abuse. It can be emotional, psychological, sexual or financial. If you think you are in immediate danger call 999. The national domestic violence helplines for the U.K. are: 0808 2000 247 (women); 0807 801 0327 (men); 0808 80 10 800 (Wales); 1800 341 900 (Ireland).
*wishes to remain anonymous