Agency: Engine
Date: Mar 2020
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With victims of coercive control being forced to stay indoors with their abusers, the Women’s Aid Federation of England, the national domestic abuse charity, has placed a pertinent ad in March’s issue of Vanity Fair, that contains a hidden message.

“During these uncertain times and under current guidance, we know that a lot of women will have to spend more time indoors. We are thinking of all those for whom home is not a safe place but one of fear and control," explained Faye Connelly, fundraising Manager at Women’s Aid.

“From our work with survivors, we know that coercive control is at the heart of domestic abuse yet continues to be largely misunderstood and underreported."

In 2019, data from the Crime Survey for England and Wales found that an overwhelming number of victims of coercive controlling behaviour are women, with men making up 97% of defendants prosecuted in the year ending December 2018. During that year, the police recorded 17,616 offences of coercive control, with the Crown Prosecution Service recording 1,177 offences in an intimate or family relationship.

While there has been a rise in awareness over the years, there is still a lot of ground to ensure the justice system and wider society recognises that abuse is a pattern of behaviour that restricts a women’s freedom over time – not just single incidents.

To raise awareness, Women's Aid concealed a hidden message of abuse within a beautiful pattern. Created by Engine, the pattern is created from a series of questions that form a pattern of abusive behaviour.

Starting from the outside, the questions escalate slowly into a grim and frightening conclusion, highlighting how coercive control is designed to control, manipulate or frighten another.