A new campaign against domestic violence has gained more than 40,000 supporters in just two weeks.
The premise of the ‘Black Dot’ campaign is for victims of violence to mark their hands with a small black dot. This will act as a silent call for help so that friends and family will know they can talk to them about abuse.
On Facebook, the campaign’s page has been liked by over 40,000 people since its launch on 7 September and its founder claims that the page has been viewed by millions more.
Despite its popularity, the campaign has been criticised by several specialist charities who fear it may do more harm than good to victims. On Twitter, domestic violence victims support group Project Sanctuary said that they “cannot endorse” it as the black dot could put the victim in greater danger. Additionally, it could “put untrained, well-meaning friends and family at risk who may feel compelled to intervene in an unsafe way”.
Women’s Aid spokeswoman Alice Stride said that “perpetrators [of domestic violence] do monitor victims very closely” so if victims “forget to wash the dot off their hand, that could lead to further abuse”.
However, Ms Stride still welcomed the campaign as it can be “very difficult for women to speak out about their abuse”. She added that communication is “the first step” for victims and that the Black Dot “provides women another way to do that”.
The campaign’s founder wishes to remain anonymous because she has previously been a victim of domestic violence. In an interview with the BBC, she warned victims that “if it’s not safe to draw a black dot, don’t do it. Just because you’re a victim doesn’t mean you’re stupid, you know yourself what is safe and what is not safe.”
Earlier this month, the police announced new guidelines to help them identify domestic abuse before it is reported.