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Code Word: Eyeliner

October is National Domestic Violence Awareness Month. But for women and children, the “double plague” of Coronavirus and domestic violence is being felt not just in the U.S., but around the world. If you’ve read the news at any time since Covid-19 hit, you know the numbers aren’t good.

But here’s what IS good: women (and plenty of men) across the world are supporting each other during this time. Offering comfort and safety. Encouraging each other to speak up. And in many cases, it starts with a code word.


According to the World Health Organization, 1 in 3 women experiences physical or sexual violence, most often from an intimate partner.

If you or someone you know has been a victim of domestic violence, there is help.


Around the globe, organizations and individuals have launched simple code words and signals that victims of abuse can use to ask for help. Here are just a few that have gained popularity during the pandemic:

  • Signal for Help is a one-handed sign that can be used during a video call. It’s silent and quick. Launched by the Canadian Women’s Foundation in response to COVID-19, the signal is now being shared by partner organizations around the world.

  • Are you still selling your makeup? In April, Calyn Blackburn posted this on her Facebook account. Calyn told that she would have felt less isolated and alone if there was a similar campaign while she was experiencing abuse. She’s also still getting requests for makeup.

  • Mask19. In pharmacies and grocery stores from France to Norway to Summit County, Colorado, employees have been trained to offer help when they hear this code word.

  • Ask for Angela. In venues across London, posters (often in bathroom stalls) inform customers they can “Ask for Angela” to a member of the staff to let them know they feel unsafe or threatened.

It’s easy to be wrapped up in our own situations during such a challenging time (divorce and Covid). And it’s hard to know just what we can do to help someone in physical crisis. We hope this info is helpful to those who need it, and to those who can offer to support to someone else.


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