What the Black Dot movement really means for domestic violence

Sep 18, 2015 at 10:28 p.m. ET

Can drawing a single black dot on the palm help someone escape from a domestic violence situation?

That's what the creators behind The Black Dot Campaign hope. The campaign — started earlier this month on Facebook — aims 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."

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"This is an idea, thinking outside of the box, trying to open up the worlds [sic] eyes and ears to what is going on in terms of abuse," reads a post on the social media site. "The idea came from a former domestic violence victim."


The organization claims that millions of people have been reached by the message already. Many people, mostly women, have posted their own black dots on the Facebook page, either to cry for help or in solidarity with domestic abuse survivors.


But the idea that women can get help by simply drawing a little black dot on their palms isn't as straightforward as the campaign creators want you to believe. Those criticizing say that drawing a dot could end up getting victims killed if their abusers spot it and that medical and mental health professionals are not aware of the meaning.

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"While it certainly has created awareness (bravo), it has also created the impression and expectation that randomly showing a black dot to a hospital ER worker or a police office will turn into a rescue, and that is not the case," CeCe Mikell wrote on Facebook.

The creators say their intention is to open the gates of communication in attempt to get people the help they need.

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"This isn't the solution that will help everyone, if anything it should help people realize what abuse is, how it affects people and how to access help," they wrote. "SAFETY MUST ALWAYS COME FIRST. 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."