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Health and Safety Directorate

The Signal for Help (or the Violence at Home Signal for Help) is a single-handed gesture that can be used by an individual to alert others that they feel threatened and need help over a video call, or in-person. It was originally created as a tool to combat the rise in domestic violence cases around the world as a result o​f the self-isolation measures related to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The signal is performed by holding your hand up with your thumb tucked into your palm, then folding your fingers down, symbolically trapping your thumb in your fingers. It was intentionally designed as a single continuous hand movement, rather than a sign held in one position, that could be made easily visible.

The Signal for Help was first introduced in Canada by the Canadian Women's Foundation on April 14, 2020, and on April 28, 2020 in the United States by the Women's Funding Network (WFN). It received widespread praise from local, national, and international news organizations for helping provide a modern solution to the issue of a rise in domestic violence cases.

The signal has been recognized by over 40 organizations across Canada and the United States as a useful tool to help combat domestic violence.

Addressing concerns that abusers may become aware of such a widespread online initiative, the Canadian Women's Foundation and other organizations clarified that this signal is not "something that's going to save the day," but rather a tool someone could use to get help.

Instructions for what to do if an individual sees the signal, and how to check-in safely, were also created.


YouTubeHelp Me Sign | Violence at Home #SignalForHelp


Canadian Women's Foundation | Women's Funding Network​