Domestic violence campaign could have pitfalls

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. — A campaign is going around on social media that hopes to help women in abusive relationships let others know they’re in danger, but experts said it may not be the safest option.

In Colorado Springs, police get roughly 13,000 calls for domestic violence every year. That’s around 35 calls a day, but only 25 percent of women report that they’re in an abusive relationship.

Some think this campaign could help women get out of these situations. The idea is simple: you make a black dot on your hand to let people around you know that you’re in a violent relationship and that you need help.

It seems like a great idea, but it might actually do more harm than good.

“First of all your offender may actually know what the black dot means, so you may actually be in more risk if they see the black dot,” TESSA Executive Director Sherry Lynn Boyles said.

Since it’s not a coordinated campaign, it’s unreliable.

“There’s probably a lot of law enforcement, doctors even, who don’t know what it means, so you may be relying on something that’s not going to work,” said Boyles.

So instead, TESSA suggests safely reaching out to people around you.

“Calling trusted friends or talking to trusted friends, colleagues, co-workers, family members who can help you think about safety. That’s even a better solution that relying on a black dot with a stranger,” said Boyles.

Instead of using a black dot, it’s better to make a plan to safely get out of the relationship.

“If you are able to plan ahead, thinking about, ‘How can I have money? How can I have documents?’ Like drivers license. ‘Where can I go?’ These are all things to think about,” said Boyles.

The black dot campaign essentially tries to make a one-size-fits-all solution for a much bigger problem, but given how domestic violence works, it can’t work as well as envisioned.

“These are volatile situations and they’re very individual situations, so getting out is probably going to be an individualized, unique experience,” said Boyles.

Women who leave violent relationships are 70 times more likely to be killed when they leave than when they’re still in the relationship, according TESSA.

Dealing with situations like these can be tricky, so relying on the more proven methods of escape is better than a black dot.

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