Sunday, July 3, 2016

Why the Black Dot Campaign is NOT the Solution for Battered Women?

Once a while, I briefly review my Spam folder in the email manager, and chose selectively to read some emails. This is the email I got yesterday:

If you see a person that has a black dot on the palm, please call the police immediately. The black dot means that the person is in trouble.

“Black Dot Campaign” started on Facebook and it’s a campaign to recognize the victims of domestic abuse. That simple black dot on their hand signifies a call for help.

“The black dot on the hand lets professionals know you’re a really vulnerable domestic violence survivor, and that you need help but can’t ask because your abuser is watching your every move. In just 24 hours, the campaign has reached over 6,000 people worldwide, and has already helped 6 women. Please spread the campaign, and post a picture of your hand with the black dot, to show your support to all survivors of domestic violence,” stated the organizers behind this campaign.


Story From Survivor of Domestic Violence:

“I’m heavily pregnant and the baby’s father is very abusive. With words, his hands. I’ve been petrified for so long and even more with the baby coming soon. I was at the hospital yesterday, he was with me, he never leaves my side anymore. I had to have an examination so the consultant asked me to lie on the bed and drew the curtain. I leant over and took the pen out of his pocket, pulled his hand over to me and wrote HELP ME. I didn’t have to say a word. “This campaign gave me the strength and the idea how to ask for help. I am now safe somewhere else thanks to that consultant and the black dot campaign. Thank you, 1 week to go until my due date and I am finally safe.”

The idea seemed really creative, since we know how many people, mostly women, are subject of the severe domestic violence, both physical and emotional.

The idea of a black dot on victims' hands, to help tackle domestic violence, has been widely spread on Facebook - but also heavily criticized.

The idea behind the Black Dot campaign is this: victims of domestic violence can draw a black dot on their hand as a silent signal. Once it becomes widely enough understood, people who see the dot on their friends' hands can approach them and have a conversation about abuse.

It's certainly now widely known: the campaign page racked up 40,000 likes, with many of its posts shared even more widely than that, and the founder says Facebook's statistics indicate it's been seen by millions (although the page was later taken down).

But as the Black Dot has garnered media attention, it's also been criticized by people who worry that a specific symbol highlighting domestic violence would draw unwanted attention to victims - and thus risk the wrath of their abusers. Others have pointed out that professionals and support agencies won't have received training on what to do when spotting someone with a black dot on their hand.

"It seems a good idea but with wide coverage then the abusers will know what this thing means," one man wrote on the campaign's Facebook page. Now, the woman behind the campaign says critics have missed the point. In fact, she never meant for people to post selfies of their hands with a dot.

The founder is a British woman who wishes to remain anonymous because of her history as a domestic abuse victim. She told that although it started on Facebook, the campaign was never about encouraging abuse victims to post pictures of themselves online.

"I imagined it as a tool to start face-to-face conversations between friends, or with professionals," she told BBC Trending. "I was basing it on my experiences and I was thinking, how could I prompt people to talk about domestic violence? A black dot is easy to make, and easy to erase. As a female, you could go to the toilet, draw one on with mascara, and then later wipe it out. Being in the center of your palm, you could close your palm and hide it from view.
"As a way of seeking help, it's not going to be a solution for everybody. As a victim, you know what triggers your abuser," she says. "So if it's not safe to draw a black dot, don't do it. Just because you're a victim doesn't mean you're stupid - you know yourself what is safe and what is not safe."

So, the campaign had reportedly helped 49 women to leave abusive relationships, but received criticism from some arguing that, if the symbol started to be recognized by perpetrators, it would risk making situations worse for victims.

The Facebook page has been closed.

Sandra Horley, chief executive of domestic violence charity Refuge, explained why she believed the campaign might be dangerous for some women to take part in. “We are concerned that the Black Dot campaign has become very public and well-known, so therefore it may be dangerous for some women if they take part,” Ms Horley said. “Women who mark themselves with a black dot could unintentionally inform their abusive partner that they are trying to reach out and access support. This could have grave consequences – two women a week are killed in England and Wales by a current or former partner, 70 per cent of domestic homicides occur at the point at which a woman separates from a man. Refuge would encourage anyone planning to leave an abusive partner to contact a specialist organization for support”.

Other experts say that today the campaign has taken the form of a potentially dangerous scam: If a domestic violence perpetrator learned of the campaign and then saw the black dot, they might lash out in response. Additionally, the vast majority of “professionals” referred to in the viral post is likely unaware of the campaign and how to deal with a black dot should they see one.

For example, domestic violence prevention organization Project Sanctuary had officially announced its refusal to endorse the campaign:

“The Black Dot Campaign is a very well-meaning idea, but a bad idea nonetheless,” said Dina Polkinghorne, executive director of domestic violence prevention organization Project Sanctuary in a statement. “The campaign is getting a lot of attention, so abusers may also be aware of it. They might question why their partner would have the dot on their hand. A well-meaning family member could also see the dot, and inadvertently compound the violence.”

“When would it be appropriate to use it?” she continued. “At the grocery store? At the doctor’s office? Someone who was being completely controlled would be told by the abuser that they want to be in the exam room, so the victim would not be able to tell their doctor that they were in a domestic violence situation.”

In an interview with a local ABC affiliate, Peninsula Mental Health Services’ Dr. Michael Finegan agreed: “The factor [for the campaign’s seeming disintegration] was that the abuser, highly controlling, would see the black dot and that that would facilitate more violence or more abuse.”


While the Black Dot Campaign may have been started with good intentions, it does not yet offer a safe and reliable way for victims of domestic violence to get help. It is not supported by any official organizations, and the campaign on Facebook has been closed. Therefore, please do NOT follow the original campaign guidelines, and find more reliable ways to inform the authorities, that you are a victim of the domestic violence. For your sake! For sake of your kids! Do not let a domestic violence to become a norm in your family. You deserve better than that!

How to Report?

First established in 1996 by the Violence Against Women Act and supported in part by funding from the Family Violence Prevention and Services Act, the National Domestic Violence Hotline is the only national organization that directly serves victims of domestic abuse, their friends and family.

Highly-trained, expert advocates are available 24/7 by phone 1-800-799-SAFE (7233) to talk with anyone who is affected by physical, emotional, sexual or financial abuse. To date, The Hotline has answered more than 3.5 million calls, chats and texts from people seeking assistance.

The Hotline also offers an online chat service at that is available Monday through Friday from 7 a.m. – 2 a.m. CT. The chat feature provides another lifeline for those who do not feel safe speaking by phone.

To respond to the unique needs of teens and young adults, loveisrespect was launched in 2007. Through loveisrespect, The Hotline provides direct peer advocacy 24/7 to youth ages 12–24 by phone (1-866-331-9474), online chat at, or by texting “loveis” to 22522.

The services are completely free and confidential, and we have the largest and most comprehensive database of local and national resources in the country. Along with these resources, we offer lifesaving tools, immediate support and hope to empower victims to break free of abuse.

Sources and Additional Information:

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

San Francisco Tightens Pride Parade Security

San Francisco public safety officials are taking no chances with this weekend’s Pride celebration after an attack this month at a gay nightclub in Orlando in which 49 people were massacred.

For the first time, there will be metal detectors — a combination of walk-through machines and handheld wands — at all entry points to Pride’s two-day celebration in Civic Center Plaza on Saturday and Sunday. People attending the two-day event also will not be permitted to bring in bags bigger than 18 by 18 inches, and bags will be searched. Visitors won’t be required to remove their shoes like at airports.

Pride spokesman Sam Singer said organizers and police have yet to decide how many entry points there will be. He also said it is undecided, who will pay for the metal detectors. Private security guards will operate them, and city officials said to expect lengthy lines to get into the event.

The two-day celebration will feature one main stage as well as 20 smaller stages and venues featuring music, performers and speakers. The festivities will last from noon to 6 p.m. on Saturday and from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Sunday. Mayor Ed Lee said city officials and other agencies met this morning to review security and emergency plans for this weekend's Pride celebrations, which are expected to draw as many as 1 million people.

There won’t be metal detectors or limitations on bag size at Sunday’s Pride parade, which begins at 10:30 a.m. at Market and Beale streets, and ends at Market and Eighth streets. But there will be a larger-than-usual police presence and a contingent of undercover officers will also patrol LGBT clubs.

Overall, the Police Department will deploy about 25 percent more officers for Pride events this year than last year, said Michael Redmond, deputy chief of the department’s operations bureau. Redmond couldn’t give an estimate of how many officers that equaled.

The extra security precautions seek to balance safety and fun. San Francisco Pride is one of the biggest events of its kind in the country, with an expected draw of about 1 million people. But the massacre at Orlando’s Pulse nightclub that killed 49 people, plus the gunman, and wounded dozens more has cast a pall on the normally festive occasion.

Anyone attending Pride events is being asked to stay vigilant and report anything suspicious to police or to Pride organizers and volunteers.

Sources and Additional Information:

Monday, May 23, 2016

New Party Drug which is Perfectly Legal

Hundreds of people are packed into a bumping basement club in downtown Berlin, dancing for hours on end in a free-wheeling rave. The substance of choice hails from the exotic tropics. It’s said to impart a brain-boosting rush and tons of energy, enough to transform its users into raging Energizer bunnies. This drug can be ingested, drunk and even snorted. You’re probably familiar with its common name: cacao.

Aztec and Mayan civilizations used cacao for centuries in all kind of rituals and as an incredibly important medicine. Modern researches give you numerous reasons to consume this magic food. Cacao gives you more energy, it improves your libido, it boosts brain levels of serotonin, it keeps you looking and feeling younger, it helps you shed fat and because of its high level of magnesium it also protects against osteoporosis, assists in stabilizing blood glucose and lowers blood pressure. All of these benefits are increased by the vitamins and minerals contained in cacao.

In recent months, cacao has transcended its already lofty status as a superfood and vaulted into the realm of party drugs. In this latest incarnation, cacao powder is taking the place of alcohol and illicit substances like Molly and ecstasy in parts of Western Europe. Lucid, a monthly cacao-fueled dance party in Berlin, fixes bitter Balinese cacao into partygoers’ drinks. Morning Gloryville, a rise-and-shine rave company that organizes dance parties from London to New York, stocks its bar with cacao drinks and cacao pills. And in perhaps the strangest form, Belgian chocolatier Dominique Persoone invented a special $50 snorting device so you can huff your chocolate in powdered form, much like cocaine.

A great cacao party feels like a rave must have felt in 1988, back in the day when everyone would drop an ecstasy pill from the same batch always at the same time

Never mind that this is the same raw powder you can find at the corner Vitamin Shoppe or processed in your favorite candy bar — or that cacao is perfectly legal in all the jurisdictions we found. Proponents say that raw, virgin cacao is far more potent than you ever imagined. First comes a surge of endorphins into your bloodstream, which increases acuity and fuels you with feelings of euphoria. Then there’s the flood of magnesium, which relaxes your muscles and de-tenses your body. Raw cacao is also chock-full of flavanols that increase blood circulation and stimulate brain power, according to a recent study from the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

The basics: cacao is extremely high in magnesium, the ‘relaxer mineral’; Sulphur, the ‘beauty mineral’; iron and chromium. Antioxidants: off-the-scale. It’s one of the most powerful superfoods around.

And, of course, cacao can be downright delicious. Lucid’s pixie-like party organizer, Ruby May, isn’t a purist when it comes to the stuff: She spikes the 18 pounds of cacao per party with sweet hints of honey, agave syrup and cinnamon, and the celebrations go on for six hours. “It’s like a smooth, sensual hug in a cup,” says the 36-year old. And as far as the sniffing chocolate goes, Persoone mixes the powder with ginger, raspberry and mint for his patrons in Belgium. Chili pepper was tried, he says, but was “not a good idea.” Color us surprised.

The Kuna Indians who live on the San Blas Islands off Panama drink an average of five cups of high-flavanol cocoa daily. The island population is also remarkable for extremely low rates of hypertension, unlike the Kuna on the mainland, who consume processed cocoa mix low in flavanols. Researchers, suspecting the island Kuna's staggering cocoa consumption might account for their superior health, began investigating the health effects of cocoa's raw compounds. This investigation led to the finding that (-)-epicatechin, one particularly abundant cocoa compound, supports circulation.

To be clear, cacao is not going to distort your reality. Under the beats of house, hip-hop, funk and electronic music, cacao “amplifies” the experience, rather than dims it with alcohol or drugs, says May. In fact, she doesn’t allow booze inside. The mood-boosting effects of cacao are “subtle,” she says, and it’s not like tripping on acid. Even pure cacao is not actually a drug. While it does contain certain mood-enhancing compounds such as anandamide and phenylethylamine, the bitter reality is that the amount is much too low to have any direct influence on mood, says Dr. Catherine Kwik-Uribe, the director of research and development for Mars Symbioscience, a scientific division of Mars, Incorporated. Which is to say that all of this alleged chocoholism is probably a placebo effect.

Ingested, it triggers a cascade of amino acids and neurotransmitters including monoamine oxidase enzyme inhibitors, which allow serotonin and other neurotransmitters to circulate in the brain; theobromine, which stimulates feelings of euphoria and contentment; and phenethylamine, the chemical we produce when we fall in love.

If it sounds like G-rated fun, well, it is; these are parties where virtue handily wins over vice.
All of these concoctions come courtesy of the “conscious dance movement,” which evolved from an underground movement into morning raves and lunchtime dance parties, often attended by millennial office workers. It seeks to create a positive — and healthy — environment, in which participants can unhinge themselves from negative thoughts and social inhibitions. Alcohol is usually a no-no, as are illegal drugs. Self-actualization, communal bonding and calorie-burning are key. If it sounds like G-rated fun, well, it is; these are parties where virtue handily wins over vice.

Note the sense of moderation. The best way to consume it is thoughtfully, setting aside time and space to be completely present because the more intention you put into it, the deeper your experience is going to be.

The use of cacao was pioneered in millennia past by Mesoamerican civilizations. As early as 1900 B.C., archaeologists believe, the Mokaya people in what is now Mexico were fermenting cacao beans into liquid chocolate. The Aztecs, it seems, valued cacao so highly they would trade the beans as a form of currency. Today, the very ethically conscious may have a beef with chocolate, protesting that appropriating cacao from its Mexican origins for Eurotrash-like dance parties rings a wee bit colonial.

Skepticism aside, cacao can act as a “catalyst for having more life,” says May, rather than “numbing ourselves with beer.” And “in all my years in research, I have never seen a person not smile when enjoying a piece of chocolate,” adds Kwik-Uribe. Admittedly, she has a vested interest — but on the other hand, we can’t imagine a party that can’t be improved by chocolate.

Sources and Additional Information: