How one simple emoji will help victims of domestic violence during COVID-19
There's a Threat Spreading in Homes Faster than the Coronavirus
We are all worried about the victims of the Covid-19 virus. Most believe the epidemic will affect millions.
But there is another epidemic occurring even faster. Rather than ‘separated’ to distance themselves from harm, the potential victims are trapped in their own nightmare: domestic violence.
Domestic violence happens at home. Victims can escape when they go to work, school, public spaces, or a friend’s house. The other possible escape is when the abuser leaves the house.
Now, none of this is possible due to the ‘stay-at-home’ guidance. The victims are trapped with their abuser.
Victims of domestic violence will tell you it’s practically impossible to call for help when their abuser is home. As a past victim of domestic violence, I never called for help at home because I was too scared that my abuser would hear me. Victims fear one thing: death. Many domestic violence cases lead to homicide.
Since the quarantine, the National Domestic Violence Hotline reported a decrease in daily calls since last week. This decrease is terrifying. Why? Because it is practically impossible to report when your abuser is with you.
Right now, the world is going through a financial, health, and employment crisis; the stress and anxiety will only accentuate abusers’ violence.
The reality is that we don’t know who among our friends and loved ones is a victim of domestic violence. There are 12 million victims each year in the United States alone. One out of four women will experience domestic violence in their lifetime and one in seven men. This means we all know a victim, you know victims, even if you are not aware.
The drop in domestic violence hotline calls shows that the hotlines have lost their efficacy. Victims simply can’t call.
So I have a proposal. I recommend we help victims of domestic violence by asking them to send an emoji to a friend or a loved one to let them know their situation. Send us the frog emoji. Why? The frog emoji is inoffensive and joyful, so it won’t raise an abuser’s suspicions, and it is not often used, so it will be remembered as the Domestic Violence sign. Send us a frog by text message, email, WhatsApp, or any other means. It is fast to send and, therefore, less risky for victims. This communication tool will allow them to communicate their fear and receive help.
If you are a victim of domestic violence:
Send 1 frog emoji: This is the first step to share your situation. Your loved one(s) will be able to provide you with mental support such as dropping off groceries or calling/Facetiming to show you they want to help you. Ideally they will ask you “yes” or “no” questions to avoid your abuser's suspicions. That is for when you might not feel ready to call the police yet.
Send 2 frog emojis: This is because you need them to call the police for you. The police will come to check on you right away!
We’re socially distancing to save lives? And that is wonderful; but we need to adapt our approach to protect those whom we are actually putting at more risk due to the social distancing and stay-at-home approach. Let’s share this message to save those who are quarantined with their abuser.
Advice for Victims:
- Send the frog emoji to someone who knows your address so that when needed, they can come or tell the police where to go to rescue you.
- If your abuser checks your phone, to be extra safe:
- Delete the frog emoji just "for yourself" after sending it. Do not delete it "for everyone" because the receiver won’t see it anymore. You can do that by text message and on messenger. Deleting it just "for yourself" does not work on Instagram and on WhatsApp.
- Remove the frog from your emoji history by sending many other emojis right after - which you can delete “for everyone” afterwards. (I hope Apple can help by leaving no trace of that emoji in our history...let’s see)
Please share this post on every social media platform you use so that all the victims of domestic violence have a shared language that will lead to a safe and fast route for assistance.
You and the frog might save a life.
Share this with your community.Karine Bah Tahé, Founder of Gender Bridge, genderbridge.com