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By Imogen Watson, Senior reporter

September 7, 2018 | 3 min read

Women’s Aid has refreshed its marketing strategy, shifting attention away from female sufferers in domestic violence, and focusing on the hidden victims – children.

Its latest ad hopes to shine a spotlight on the 160,000 children living in domestic abuse households, and explain that children don't just witness domestic abuse, they also experience it.

Speaking to The Drum, Women’s Aid’s chief executive Katie Ghose explained: “We want to bring domestic abuse out of the shadows and into the spotlight so that everybody who's in an abusive relationship knows they don't need to suffer in silence.”

The aim of the film is to firmly place the effects of domestic violence in the national consciousness.

Creative agency WCRS developed the campaign. The agency's creative director David Dearlove said they “had to find a new way to basically tell the same story” if they were to capture public attention for their cause.

"The effects of domestic abuse on children is probably not the first thing people think about when they think about domestic violence," he explained.

In terms of the marketing strategy, Ghose said: “One of the things that Women’s Aid is trying to do is change attitudes in every corner of society.” Adding, “if the charity can change attitudes, help friends and family members recognise an abusive relationship, or be a listening ear, we can all make a difference just listening and not judging someone.”

To ensure the film was authentic and relatable, it consulted real-life survivors, to give a genuine viewpoint from those who have suffered.

"We always rely on survivors insights and survivors experiences. We work alongside survivors as spokeswomen and it makes a huge difference just by listening to them and what they've been through," she explained.

Inspired by these real-life experiences, Women’s Aid and WCRS collaborated with the British Board of Classification (BBFC), to create a film that, if shown in full, would gain an 18 certificate.

The film starts with a violent outburst - an abusive partner snaps while the family relax in their home, leading to a horrific argument which sees the mother physically harmed. Throughout the ad, the violent scenes are removed, to make the film suitable for children, to hit home that parents can't put a PG lock on domestic violence.

"We thought, how can we talk to them in a way that hits them. The cinema is a place where we do a good job of protecting children from violence," said Dearlove. "Thanks to BBFC, classification systems mean children can't see something that they shouldn't be allowed to see. Yet, that's fictionalised violence."

The film will be shown across the UK in cinemas for a month and will be supported online with a social media edit, accompanied by the hashtag #160kchildren.


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