The Signal for Help campaign was launched by the Canadian Women’s Foundation in April 2021 and has gained traction around the world. “The signal for help” or “#SignalForHelp,” which is meant to be made with one hand, sees an individual face their palm outward to the camera or other person before tucking their thumb inwards and closing their remaining fingers on top to make a fist. It is an alternative to calling 911 and sends a signal to anyone—the police, a family member, a friend—to “please reach out to me safely,” so that the victim can respond via text or email or in a call away from the abuser and provide information to get help.
This signal is going viral for many understandable reasons.
One of the scariest things about being trapped in a situation with a dangerous person is how many people don’t notice. Abusers, kidnappers, traffickers, often monitor and control a person so tightly that asking for help seems impossible.
With the coronavirus pandemic people are spending a lot more time on video calls and people being caught in their home in abusive situations are spending more time with their abusers. The Signal for Help initiative was a way to discreetly communicate about a dangerous situation without having to say a word.
This sign is known as simple made with one hand and It’s even something we can teach young children.
We also know that human trafficking is a billion-dollar global industry and that victims are sometimes being transported in broad daylight. The more tools we have for getting people help the better, but first we need to know when someone actually needs help.
Learning and sharing this hand sign far and wide will help spread awareness, enable more victims of violence to ask for help in a safe way, and hopefully even save lives.