Skip To Content
    Posted on Sep 21, 2015

    People Are Using #BlackDotCampaign To Talk About A Controversial Domestic Violence Campaign

    This grassroots campaign for domestic violence awareness that involves drawing a black dot on your palm went viral, but some see it as controversial and counterproductive.

    On Sept. 8, a new domestic violence awareness initiative called the Black Dot Campaign launched on Facebook.

    Facebook: blackdotcampaign

    The premise is simple: Send a signal that you're in an abusive relationship to those who can help by drawing a black dot on your palm.

    The idea was to give people a way of signaling nonverbally that they're being abused and need help.

    Facebook: blackdotcampaign

    People responded by showing their support through drawing black dots on their palms and using the hashtag #BlackDotCampaign.

    According to the campaign's Facebook page, it reached more than 2 million people within three days of its launch.

    Facebook: blackdotcampaign

    Dr. Drew tweeted his support.

    How a black dot can help abuse victims: http://t.co/D469z1tKn7 #BlackDotCampaign

    Six days after its launch, Black Dot Campaign asked on Facebook, "If you saw someone with a black dot on their hand, what would you do?"

    Facebook: blackdotcampaign

    Some users commented that they'd give support or find help, but others pointed out some of the possible flaws with the campaign.

    Sally Tamarkin / BuzzFeed
    Sally Tamarkin / BuzzFeed
    Sally Tamarkin / BuzzFeed

    Later that day, perhaps in response to the comments or maybe because the hoax-debunking website Snopes listed the Black Dot Campaign's claim to help as "false," the campaign posted again to clarify its mission and intent.

    Facebook: blackdotcampaign

    The post explained that the idea behind the campaign was get people starting to talk about intimate partner violence and to be able to start conversations with loved ones by drawing a dot on their hand.

    They added that the campaign "isn't the solution that will help everyone," but is "about raising awareness on a social media platform."

    But reactions remained mixed, with some people continuing to appreciate the motivation behind the campaign...

    Sally Tamarkin / BuzzFeed

    ...while others called on the campaign to clarify its mission.

    Sally Tamarkin / BuzzFeed

    And some pointed out the huge obstacles to safety and privacy that victims and survivors face.

    Sally Tamarkin / BuzzFeed

    Project Sanctuary, an organization that works with victims of domestic violence, explained on Twitter how the campaign could actually make victims' situations worse.

    Project Sanctuary does not endorse the #blackdotcampaign

    The California-based organization, which works with victims of sexual assault and domestic violence, said that anyone whose abuser knew about the campaign would be putting themselves at risk by drawing something on themselves their abuser could see.

    Katie Ray-Jones, chief executive officer of the National Domestic Violence Hotline told BuzzFeed Life via email that "Campaigns like the Black Dot campaign can help keep domestic violence at the forefront of a national conversation, giving local and national domestic violence organizations the opportunity to educate the public on available resources ... It’s important that people know every strategy has risks, even leaving an abusive relationships. Abusive partners tend to watch the victim’s behavior very closely, so it’s important to recognize that the abusive partner may be looking to see if their partner is using the black dot."

    BuzzFeed Life has reached out to Project Sanctuary for comment.

    A representative of the Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network (RAINN) told BuzzFeed Life via email about existing resources for anyone experiencing violence in a relationship.

    • Call the National Sexual Assault Hotline (800-656-HOPE); it's available 24/7, is totally confidential, and is completely free.

    • Find sexual assault service providers near you using RAINN's database.

    • Contact the National Domestic Violence Hotline 24 hours per day, every day of the year, to speak to highly trained expert advocates available to talk confidentially with anyone affected

    by domestic violence. Call 1-800-799-SAFE (7233) or, for Deaf callers, 1-800-787-

    3224 TTY.

    BuzzFeed Life has reached out to the Black Dot Campaign for comment.

    Update

    This post has been updated to include comments from Katie Ray-Jones and information about the National Domestic Violence Hotline.

    Want to be the first to see product recommendations, style hacks, and beauty trends? Sign up for our As/Is newsletter!

    Newsletter signup form