VANCOUVER -- Social isolation during the novel coronavirus pandemic can be dangerous for victims of domestic violence, and some organizations are hoping a subtle hand signal can help people let others know when they need help.

Andrea Gunraj, from the Canadian Women's Foundation, told CTV Morning Live Friday COVID-19 crisis may be leading to increases in domestic violence. 

"We've seen this is the past in other disaster situations and pandemic situations around the world … we've seen these spikes in domestic violence and sometimes new types of gender-based violence," Gunraj said. 

For those who do need help but aren't safe to reach out while at home, Gunraj said a hand signal for use on video calls is being shared as a way to let others know in a silent way that they need to be checked in on.

"The signal for help is most appropriate for people who are doing a lot of Zoom calls or Facetiming," Gunraj said. 

"It's not for everyone. Some folks don't have access to this technology. Some folks might not even be safe enough to use it in a home space … so we have to remember it's not a perfect tool, but it's one tool."

Gunraj explained the signal involves putting one hand up, palm facing toward the camera, then tucking the thumb in and curling the fingers down over it into a fist. The idea is that the signal won't leave a digital footprint.

"This indicates to people on a call that, 'hey, I need someone to check in with me safely,'" she said. It's not, 'do anything without my consent, don't do anything on my behalf, just check in with me safely.'"

Checking in safely, Gunraj said, can include many strategies like subtly texting someone, emailing or calling with questions that allow yes or no answers. 

"Whatever we do has to be led by the person experiencing the abuse," Gunraj said. 

"We can't take over for them, we can't tell them what's the right thing for them. They know what they're going through so let them take the lead."

Gunraj's comments are part of a five-minute interview. Watch the full interview above.