Women’s Aid shifts focus to highlight how children are ‘hidden victims’ of domestic abuse

The charity is using a cinema ad to illustrate how while children may be shielded from violence when they go to watch a film, that shield all too often doesn’t extend to the home.

Women’s Aid has launched marketing campaign that aims to highlight how children are the “hidden victims” of domestic abuse.

In collaboration with the British Board of Film Classification (BBFC) the advert, created by WCRS, shows how children are shielded from violence in cinema but may not be when they get home. Currently, 160,000 children in England are living in homes where domestic abuse takes place and there are more children in refuges then adults.

The campaign, which runs from today (7 September), will air across cinemas until the beginning of October. It is supported by social media activity under the hashtag #160kchildren.

READ MORE: Women’s Aid highlights domestic abuse with ‘world first’ interactive billboard

The film depicts an abusive partner being violent that was filmed with the intention of gaining an 18 certificate. It was then cut so children could watch, leaving much of the violence to the imagination. The result is a disjointed advert that leaves the viewer wondering what it must be like for a child to watch the uncensored abuse.

Katie Ghose, chief executive of Women’s Aid, tells Marketing Week: “We wanted to get across the powerful message of the hidden victims of domestic abuse – children -who may not just be witnessing domestic abuse but experiencing it.”

Ghose, who has been in her role just over a year, says one of her main goals is to elevate the voices of children who have been victims of domestic violence. The film was made in consultation with adults who grew up in abusive households.

She adds: “One of the brilliant aspect of this new cinema ad is that it depicts the abusive partner as very in control of the situation and that’s important to understand about the dynamics of domestic abuse.”

Despite tightening budgets, Ghose says that marketing will always be crucial to charities not just to raise donations but to help change attitudes.

She explains: “Marketing is important because until we have a society where we understand the dynamics of domestic abuse and what’s going on behind closed doors we can’t get the support out.

“Domestic abuse is often in the shadows and people can feel too frightened to come forward for help. If we want to end domestic abuse, marketing and communications is one way to change the attitudes and ultimately prevent domestic abuse happening in the first place.”

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