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Sign Asks Patients to Write in Red Instead of Black Marker If They Need Support for Domestic Violence

Editor's Note

If you’ve experienced domestic violence, the following post could be potentially triggering. You can contact The National Domestic Violence Hotline online by selecting “chat now” or calling 1-800-799-7233.

A sign posted from an unknown doctor’s office asking patients to write in red instead of black marker in the bathroom is going viral for its potential support of those who need help for intimate partner violence.

The photo shows a laminated sign with two permanent markers, likely posted in the bathroom at a doctor’s office. Above the black marker, the sign instructs patients using the toilet to collect specimens to write their initials on their collection jar and leave it on the back of the toilet for the nurse to collect. The text above the red marker gives similar instructions but adds another option for those who may be in need of support.

“Please write your initials with the Red Marker on the specimen cup if you are experiencing intimate partner violence, domestic violence or anything else you would like to discuss in confidence with your provider,” the sign’s red text reads. “We will ask anyone accompanying you today to leave the room before discussing your concerns.”

A doctor's office has this in their bathroom. Love it!!! THANK YOU!!#awarenessiskey #standupsurvivor #helpisavailable #letsmakethisstandard

Posted by STAND UP Survivor – Domestic Violence Awareness on Saturday, January 18, 2020

Though it’s unclear where the graphic originated, it quickly made its way around social media. People praised the sign for providing an option for the 25% of women and 11% of men who experience some form of intimate partner violence to discreetly seek help. Survivors of domestic violence often face challenges when trying to leave perpetrators who use violence, threats and coercive control to isolate their partner.

“What I’ve learned is that domestic violence is something everyone knows happens, but nobody talks about,” wrote Mighty contributor Lindsay Jolly, adding:

I’ve often heard and been told that as sorry as everyone is that it happened to me, I should really keep it to myself. Domestic abuse is a private matter and should be dealt with as such. That statement is really counterproductive, isn’t it? Victims are often silenced by their abusers, and people want to know why they don’t leave or say something. It’s because of fear. Fear of retaliation from our abusers and fear that if we do say something, we won’t be believed.

Signs like this one give those experiencing intimate partner violence a way to quietly communicate their needs with nurses and doctors, who are in a position to provide support. Advocates sharing the sign highlighted that this could make all the difference and urged other health care providers to add similar signs to their offices.