These Roadside Ads Reveal A Powerful Message About Domestic Abuse As You Move Closer To Them

This could have an enormous impact.

A new series of advertisements sheds light on the kind of domestic violence that's harder to see: emotional abuse. 

Women's Aid, a grassroots organization fighting domestic violence, recently debuted a set of digital advertisements meant to shed light on "coercive control." Coercive control is a kind of non-physical abuse that has been outlawed in the U.K. in an effort to aid people who are trapped in emotionally abusive relationships.

"We are hoping this campaign is seen by a wide range of people during the Christmas and New Year break, where existing domestic abuse can become more frequent and severe as families spend increased time together during the holidays," Teresa Parker, the Media Relations & Communications Manager at Women's Aid, told A Plus. 

These new advertisements offer different readings depending on your distance from them. In one, from a distance, the advertisement reads, "I'll love you no matter what." But when you're closer up, the image is a bit different:


The illusion is meant to be a reference to how difficult it is to see signs of emotional abuse in a victim. Coercive control, by law, "targets persistent patterns of abuse that occur over time in order for an individual to exert power, control or coercion over another." According to Parker, though, there is still work to be done in addressing this kind of abuse.

"The number of convictions is worryingly low – especially as we know that the vast majority of women experiencing domestic abuse are victims of coercive control," Parker said. "If we can increase the convictions for coercive control, and recognize patterns of perpetrator behavior, it will have an enormous impact on the reduction of domestic abuse."

Right now, most convictions occur in tandem with records of physical abuse. Parker says we'll know the law is working when convictions for coercive control are pursued without evidence of physical abuse.

The advertisements are set to run in London, Birmingham, Leeds and Edinburgh. They'll be on roadsides, according to Adweek, giving drivers a chance to fully absorb their message as they approach and pass. 

You can view related content below:

Cover illustration via donatas1205 / and Women's Aid.


Subscribe to our newsletter and get the latest news and exclusive updates.