Refuge's reversible Christmas poems reveal shocking reality of domestic violence

Ads are not as they first appear in campaign by McCann Bristol.


The charity Refuge and McCann Bristol have launched a hard-hitting Christmas campaign aimed at turning attitudes to domestic violence on their head. 

Each ad features a poem that conjures up a cosy picture of family life at Christmastime. But if read from the bottom up, the lines reveal the horror of a household living with domestic violence.

Refuge’s call to action is: "If your partner turns on you, turn to us." 

Made pro bono by McCann Bristol, the work is running across press, radio, poster sites and social media, with full-page ads appearing in Woman’s Own, Marie Claire and Bella. TV and cinema activity is due to launch soon.

The campaign was created by Zane Radcliffe and Ken Sara, while Universal McCann handled media. Steve Reeves directed the cinema and TV ads through Another Film Company. Actress Maxine Peake recorded an audio version of the poems.

One in four women will experience domestic violence in their lifetime, Refuge's research shows. It added that two women a week are killed at the hands of a partner or ex-partner in England and Wales, and on average another three women per week commit suicide as a way of escape.

Sandra Horley, 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."

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