Join the dots
My experience of domestic abuse shapes and identifies me as much as my fingerprints do. Fingerprints, however, are unique to the individual, domestic abuse is not.
Since I have walked the path of abuse, journeying away from the perpetrator and towards freedom, I have met so many women who are also victims. It is like you've suddenly opened the floodgates and I meet women all the time who confide in me and I in them.
Being a victim/survivor of abuse, I take an active interest in anything that seeks to help women out of abuse. I stumbled across the Black Dot Campaign on Facebook. Initially, I was taken in by the simple yet, apparently, effective way of communicating to a professional that you need help by drawing a black dot onto your hand. The idea is that the professional will see this and know that you need help without a word being said out loud.
I'm embarrassed and upset to say that I shared personal information on their page in an attempt to reach out to certain women who were using Black Dot posts to cry out for help. I can't bear to see any woman suffer and their anonymous posts resonated with me. I even offered to help them! I'm so so sorry.
Reading through the comments on a post about Snopes, doubts and concerns crept into my head. Comments such as:
Why do no professional groups like the police not know about this?
The fact that this campaign is going viral opens it up for all to see.
Perpetrators now know what to look out for the next time they take their partner to the doctors etc
When I was in the process of leaving my abusive ex, I was told that I was in more danger now than ever before. It was a terrifying feeling and I still have regular nightmares about this. If a woman is encouraged by reading posts about black dots to use this as a method to escape, chances are she will be found out and then be placed in incredible danger. As professionals have not been primed on what the black dot means, they may well mention it in the presence of the perpetrator. I shudder to picture this scenario.
The Black Dot Campaign may well come from a genuine place of wanting to help victims of domestic abuse but by courting the media to promote it, they've rendered it useless and harmful. There are also concerns as to who is behind the account. A tweet they sent directed at Fathers For Justice for instance, doesn't instil confidence in me that this is an account with women's safety in mind.
This afternoon (22.9.15), many women on Twitter found that they were blocked after questioning Black Dot. Most of us who were blocked are also domestic abuse survivors too so are actively interested in any account that talks about helping victims.
Not only has Black Dot ignored and blocked women on Twitter, they have deleted tweets in an effort to hide their tracks. When confronted by this, you are told that this is false and no one has been blocked. Screenshots from many women prove that Black Dot are lying about this.
I'm really at a loss to know what Black Dot are about and what they are hoping to achieve. I'm concerned about the group running this campaign as they are nameless and faceless. Do any of us know if these people are safe?
What I do know is that there are many vulnerable women out there who need help and support. If you are one of those women or know someone who is please go to your local library - or anywhere you can access information without trace - and search for local domestic abuse support groups. There are amazing groups out there but Black Dot isn't one of them.
ADMIN UPDATE: The Black Dot campaign has now shut down following concerns from survivors and specialist organisations.
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Thank you so much for writing about this campaign and its dangers. I have written about it also, and am one of the women that the campaign has blocked simply for asking questions. I am also a survivor and an advocate who wishes to see campaigns that are committed to victim safety and that desire to work with authorities and organizations that are already doing amazing work for victims and survivors. Thank you again.
Hello, just read your post and thank you for that too. The more us women talk about the dangers of this campaign the better!
I’m also a survivor and they blocked me on Twitter too. Their FB page has since disappeared. It’s a huge worry but it’s been making me quite ill so I’ve had to step back away from it. I don’t want any women to suffer or die because of they put a dot on their hand. I’m also concerned about all the women who shared their experiences on the FB – who is helping them now? And what happens to all of that sensitive data?
I agree wholeheartedly that a really useful but covert idea has been really badly managed with very little thought for victims who need something like this.
I too had heard about it but we aren’t actively encouraging people to advise victims to use it because of the increased risks it now poses.
Great idea but covert strategies need to remain just that.