A new ad from Women's Aid, the U.K. domestic abuse charity, uses a quiz show format to highlight behavior that counts as "coercive control," even though victims might not even recognize it as such.
The video, created via Engine, is styled as a gaudy TV quiz show called "Spot The Abuse," held before a cheering studio audience with three smiling female contestants being asked questions about relationships by a game show host. Each of their responses is designed to highlight how behavior that their partner might have persuaded them is normal, is actually abusive.
The quiz host starts with the question: “Your partner often tells you what to wear and gets moody if you don’t agree. Is this normal?” The first woman buzzes in quickly, answering: “Yes! Definitely!” to be told by the host: “That’s the wrong answer! It’s actually a kind of controlling behavior.”
For his final question, the host makes it clear what's going on, by adding: "If your partner isolates you from friends or family, that is coercive control.” The film ends on the female contestants looking unsettled before the camera pans out to show their male partners sitting in the audience.
The spot launched last week on the UN's International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women. It comes as Women's Aid is trying to highlight that coercive control is still not widely understood, despite being against the law since 2015 in England and Wales.
“Educating people about coercive control through the lens of a game show is an unusual and powerful juxtaposition," said Christopher Ringsell, creative director at Engine, in a statement. "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 behaviors. 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.”