Hand Signal Helps Domestic Abuse Victims
Content Warning: This article includes references to intimate partner violence, domestic violence, and other forms of abuse.
The COVID pandemic has impacted everyone in many different ways, and those who are living with domestic violence are at even higher risk. At the beginning of the COVID 19 pandemic, the Canadian Women’s Foundation, was concerned about how COVID 19 could affect those trapped at home with their abusers. “We know from our research here and around the world, that when there’s things that are major disruptions like pandemics, like natural disasters, the risk of gender-based violence goes up,” Suzanne Duncan, vice president of philanthropy, explained to CTV News.
The foundation worked with a Toronto advertising agency to launch the Signal For Help campaign and create a “silent way” for victims of intimate partner violence to ask for help when their abusers are present.
The hand gesture is simple: the person tucks their thumb into their palm, then covers the thumb with four fingers. This gesture can convey a message during a video call that they need help but cannot ask. The signal won’t leave an obvious trace the way a text or email might.
Image from https://i.cbc.ca/1.6241248.1636462888!/fileImage/httpImage/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/16x9_780/signal-for-help.jpg
The foundation launched the campaign in April 2020, sharing the information on social media and creating a video explaining how to use it. In their example, a woman on a video call displays the hand signal to the camera during a conversation. The gesture soon went viral on social media through TikTok, spreading the ability to help those in need.
Recently, in Kentucky, a motorist contacted authorities to report that they saw an underage girl flash the sign from a car. Global News reports “investigators were able to stop the vehicle as it exited the highway and learned that the teen had been reported missing by her parents from Asheville, N.C. two days earlier.”
“He obviously thought she was waving at individuals and she wasn't,” stated the Deputy in charge of the case. “She was using that signal, the TikTok signal, to signify, 'I'm in distress.’ We don't know what this guy was going to do, but we felt like we saved the young girl's life."
Although in this case the signal was used to alert authorities about a kidnapping and not domestic abuse, Suzanne Duncan from the Canadian Women’s Foundation noted that the wider this signal is shared, the more chance there is to help someone in trouble.
How to Get Help
If you or someone you know is experiencing intimate partner violence, domestic violence, or abuse at home, ShelterSafe.ca can help. It’s an online resource for women and their children seeking safety from violence and abuse. Their website features a clickable map that serves as a quick resource to connect women with the nearest shelter as well as other resources to help them find counselling and support. Much of this support is free and offered to anyone in need.
Domestic Abuse and PTSD
Many survivors of domestic abuse suffer from PTSD and find themselves unable to work as a result. In these cases, the survivors may apply for disability benefits but have their claims rejected by the insurance company. The long term disability lawyers at Share Lawyers have experience in helping people with PTSD get the benefits that they need. If you or someone you care about has been denied their benefits, contact the LTD lawyers at Share Lawyers. We are here to help.
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