A chilling new spot from U.K. domestic violence charity Women's Aid highlights just how desperate the lockdown situation can be for women and children suffering domestic abuse.
The ad, by Engine, depicts an emptiness that has become familiar in coronavirus-inspired ads. Streets and landmarks across London, from Brixton market to Chinatown, Westminster Bridge and Regent Street, are devoid of people. The only sound is that of birdsong or litter blowing in the wind.
However, the caption on screen then reminds us, "domestic abusers are no longer walking among us." As the footage then focuses in on apartment blocks and residential areas, it continues: "They're locked inside with their families. ...For thousands of women and children right now, home is anything but safe. Please donate."
Director Max Fisher and production company Knucklehead worked on the spot with Engine creatives, with all going out to independently self-shoot the footage. The work will run on social channels and in donated media including The Guardian print and digital, as well as Sky and Eurosport, with help from Essence.
The campaign comes as evidence already suggests that domestic violence is on the rise during lockdown. Women's Aid itself experienced a 41% increase in users visiting its Live Chat site, compared to the previous week, between March 26 and April 1, with a marked increase in visitors across all digital support service. Additionally, the National Domestic Abuse helpline revealed yesterday it had seen a 25 percent increase in calls, as reported by the BBC.
"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," said Nicki Norman, Acting Chief Executive at Women’s Aid, in a statement. "Accessing support online can be a safer option for survivors unable 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."