A new ad from Women’s Aid has highlighted the signs of coercive control in relationships.
The spot, made pro bono by Engine Creative, is stylised as a bright and brash game show “Spot the Abuse” and launched today (25 November) on International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women.
Three female contestants stand before a game show host. Starting confidently and with bright smiles, they answer questions such as “Your partner often tells you what to wear and gets moody if you don’t agree. Is this normal?”.
All three questions are answered with a “Yes” and air of certainty, only for the host to tell them that the actions in question are signs of coercive control.
As the women’s smiles begin to fade, and their partners in the audience look uneasy, the claps of the audience continue and the show’s theme tune continues to blare out.
The spot ends with the call to action: “Many of us struggle to spot the signs of coercive control. What your partner says is normal might not be.”
Produced by Missing Link Films, the ad follows a successful print and out-of-home campaign from Engine Creative, which took on the style of a fashion magazine to demonstrate coercive behaviour in relationships.
Coercive control was made illegal in 2015, but offences have been rising. In the year ending March 2020, police in England and Wales recorded nearly 25,000 offences.
Farah Nazeer, chief executive of Women’s Aid, said: “We hope this advert will raise awareness and start important conversations about controlling behaviour in relationships. Greater awareness and understanding of the behaviours that make up coercive control means that more people will be able to identify it, prevent it and prosecute it.”
Christopher Ringsell, creative director at Engine Creative, added: “The glitzy lights, cheesy soundtrack and shiny world is not the normal place to communicate the harsh realities of domestic abuse, but the format is perfect to land questions and answers around controlling behaviours.”
“Many women could be living with this form of abuse without even being aware, so hopefully this jarring and arresting approach will make it memorable and will help women question things that might not be right in their own relationships.”
The ad will appear across Women's Aid digital and social media platforms.