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Use This Hand Signal To Ask For Help, AWAM Urges Domestic Violence Victims

Use This Hand Signal To Ask For Help, AWAM Urges Domestic Violence Victims

The “Violence At Home” signal for help is something everyone must know.

Melissa Suraya Ismail

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Recently, @awammalaysia released a PSA video on TikTok demonstrating how to use simple sign language as a secret call for help when you’re in trouble.

AWAM or the All Women’s Action Society is an independent feminist non-profit organization that focuses on helping victims of gender-based violence in Malaysia.

The short video shows two women in a casual conversation when one person discreetly shows the hand gesture to the other person, asking for help.

@awammalaysia

Apa nak buat kalau nampak signal ni? Baca kat comment section!

♬ original sound – awammalaysia – awammalaysia

This Sign Is Known As The Signal For Help

Currently, the ‘signal for help from domestic violence’ is getting viral globally on TikTok where a lot of people are bringing awareness about it and demonstrating how to use them in public.

The signal was introduced by the Canadian Women’s Foundation in April 2020 in response to increasing domestic violence during Covid-19 lockdowns. It’s used to signify “Violence at home”, “I need help”, and “domestic violence”.

The video showed how to signal a person for help inconspicuosly.

The hand gesture is a simple one-handed sign that can be used in a video call at home or in a distressed situation where you can get the rescuer’s attention easily without the perpetrator noticing.

The steps include:

  1. Face your palm outward and tuck your thumb to the middle of the palm.
  2. Fold the other fingers over your thumb, as if trapping it.
Credit: Canadian Women’s Foundation

Earlier this month, this sign allegedly saved a 16-year old girl’s life from an attempted kidnapping in Kentucky, USA.

The girl was traveling with a 61-year-old man in a car when she signaled ongoers using the hand gesture. Luckily it caught the attention of someone and they called the authorities.

What Should You Do When You See The Sign?

According to the earlier video on TikTok, @awammalaysia explained what to do if you notice anyone doing the signal.

  1. Stay calm and make sure the victim’s safety is guaranteed. Pretend there’s nothing going on if the abuser is there.
  2. Ask them about their safety discreetly by using simple “yes” or “no” questions.
  3. If they really need your help, only then do what’s necessary. Call the AWAM hotline and give them support in the ways that they want. Remember, stay calm and don’t be pushy!

In cases of domestic violence at homes such as these situations, immediately calling the police might actually increase the risk of more violence for the victim.

However, if the signal is used in real immediate threats, it may be best to call the authorities.

In Malaysia, there has been around 9,000 recorded cases of domestic violence since the MCO began.

READ MORE: Domestic Violence Rates In Malaysia Increase Under MCO

The video sparked discussions within the platform regarding what domestic violence means, with the general agreement being that domestic violence is abuse done by anyone in your surrounding with blood ties to you or anyone who’s close to you such as your family, husband, son, etc.

Domestic violence can also be in various types such as emotional, physical, sexual, financial, and also social abuse.

Alternatively, there is always help available from Malaysian’s 24-hour Talian Kasih hotline at 15999.

READ MORE: WAO: Calls To Domestic Abuse Hotline Tripled During MCO Period


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