Refuge uses reversible poetry to highlight life or death domestic abuse issue

Christmas Eve reversible poem

In a bid to turn attitudes to domestic violence on their head, the domestic abuse charity Refuge and McCann Bristol have developed a number of full-page ads inspired by reversible poetry, to draw attention to the life or death issue.

Although ground has undeniably been made on raising awareness of the issue, statistics show that even now in 2018, one in four women will experience domestic violence in their lifetime.

Even more shocking is the fact that, in England and Wales alone, two women are killed on average at the hands of a partner or ex-partner. Not only this but domestic violence also indirectly murders women, as three women on average a week chose to end their lives as a way of escape.

Running through the festive season, the reversible poetry ads aim to continue raising awareness of the issue. At first glance, the ads appear to be unassuming, jovial Christmas poetry. Each of the three poems has a traditional title: 'Mistletoe,' 'Xmas Eve' and 'Auld Lang Syne.'

The opening lines conjure up images of your familiar cosy family Christmas at home, yet as the reader makes their way up the poem, they quickly begin to realise that the reversibility is not the only thing that's different about these poems.

Past the first lines, each poem quickly escalates, so that the reader is soon confronted by the full horror of life for a family living with domestic violence. Across all media, the call-to-action reads: "if your partner turns on you, turn to us," to show victims they are never alone.

The reversible poems will appear press, TV, cinema, interactive radio, posters, and social media throughout the festive period, and full-page ads will appear in Woman’s Own, Marie Claire and Bella.

Actress Maxine Peake, a long-standing supporter of Refuge, recorded an audio version of the poems. The cinema and TV ads are created by director Steve Reeves of Another Film Company.

Sandra Horley CBE, chief executive of Refuge, said: “Domestic abuse is the biggest issue affecting women and children in this country today – it really is a life and death issue.

"Yet still too few women know how to spot the signs of domestic violence, realise that domestic abuse is a crime or know that Refuge is here to support them. We want women to know that no matter what time of year, no one should suffer in silence and they should ‘turn’ to us for support.”

Vince McSweeney, chief creative officer of McCann Central added: “The amount of craft that has gone into writing these reversible poems and making the whole campaign is in tribute to the often life-saving work that Refuge undertakes every day. We hope that this campaign will show women and children affected by domestic abuse where to turn to.”

Get The Drum Newsletter

Build your marketing knowledge by choosing from daily news bulletins or a weekly special.