Women’s Aid Federation of England has unveiled a chilling campaign that highlights the increased dangers of domestic abuse during the coronavirus lockdown.
"The lockdown", by Engine Creative, shows haunting images of empty streets and public spaces across the UK while people stay at home. It ends with the line: "For thousands of women and children right now, home is anything but safe."
Domestic-abuse charities around the world have reported an increase in incidents since lockdowns began, because abusers and their partners are forced to self-isolate together in close proximity. Between 26 March and 1 April, Women’s Aid experienced a 41% increase in users visiting its live chat site compared with the previous week, while its coronavirus advice page for survivors has attracted 27,000 page views since launch.
To prepare for the escalation in abuse, experts are calling on the UK government to provide emergency funds to help victims.
"The lockdown" will run on social media channels and in print and digital media space donated by The Guardian, Sky and Eurosport.
Engine developed the campaign on a pro-bono basis within a week. The team worked remotely, capturing footage on phones as part of daily exercise excursions and managing editing, grading and reviews through online conference calls.
It was created by Charlie Gee and Tian Murphy, and directed by Max Fisher through Knucklehead. Essence is the media agency.
Nicki Norman, acting chief executive of Women’s Aid, said: "We hope [this campaign] makes people realise that while home may be the safest place to protect ourselves from the virus, it is certainly not a safe place for women and children who are indefinitely trapped with a perpetrator of abuse.
"Covid-19 household isolation is having a direct impact on survivors, with abuse already escalating, and we have seen this reflected in demand for our digital services. Accessing support online can be a safer option for survivors unable to leave the household as it can be done discreetly, quietly and in private. The restrictions of the pandemic have shut down many physical routes to safety and support.
"Our digital services are here to support survivors during this frightening time but, in an already extremely challenging funding climate, we need urgent funding to be able to continue providing these vital lifelines."