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Look at Me


Last night, whilst I was catching up with a TV programme I've found myself being sucked into – Indian Summers, if you're wondering - I was multi-tasking and looking for inspiration for a blog subject at the same time when I heard the unmistakable sound of Julie Walters' voice, which made me look up (Julie appears in the show and is, in my opinion, the best thing about it so I always pay attention to her bits) and I realised it wasn't the show, but an advert for the charity Women's Aid.

Women's Aid have teamed up with a creative agency WCRS to create a new outdoor ad campaign to highlight the importance of not turning a blind eye to domestic violence. The ad appeared in a TV advert voiced by Julie Walters (which is what caught my attention) on Sunday – International Women's Day. The ad is in essence a huge electronic billboard, with a difference. The technology is a bit beyond me, but in layman's terms the billboard recognises when people are looking at it and this has an impact on the ad which changes to reflect this.

The ad is an image of a woman from shoulders up, her face is battered and bruised because she is the victim of domestic violence. The strap line alongside the image says "Look at me" and the more people that do, the image transforms and the cuts and bruises fade until they disappear. At this point the woman mouths "thank you". It sounds simple, and it is. Yet it's also one of the most powerful ads I've seen in a long time.

In the UK, one incident of domestic violence is reported to the police every minute and on average, 2 women a week are killed by a current or former male partner. How shocking are those statistics? Yet domestic violence is still a subject people don't like to talk about. Domestic abuse isn't always of a physical nature, emotional abuse - which is often not regarded as a crime, but which survivors often find even more destructive - is excluded from statistics. Personally, I have suffered emotional abuse from a former partner.

For many years I was subjected to subtle destructive criticism, lying to me and about me, checking up on me, amongst other things. It wasn't until I lost my mum and found the courage to end the relationship that I realised just how bad it had been and what an impact it had – and still has at times – on my life. My self-confidence was at rock bottom and even now I have times when I doubt myself and my abilities to the point where I worry myself sick before I realise what I'm doing and remind myself I can do it.

So perhaps this is the reason why the ad had a profound effect on me, however, everyone I've talked to about it has agreed that it really tugs at the heart strings. This is certainly a subject that deserves to be discussed and the women – and of course men – who are suffering deserve to be heard and supported. Hopefully by talking about this ad we can keep this important conversation going.

In fact, we can all benefit from paying attention more. Research shows paying attention to the 'now' is linked to happiness, as are kind acts. Of course, we're not saying you should look around for risks, but paying attention to what's around you would mean you might spot those who need you to "look at me".

If you'd like to support Women's Aid you can text 'CHANGE' to 70500 to donate £5 and help change someone's life for the better.

You can find more information in this Guide to UK-based Free Domestic Violence Helplines by Oliver at Rehab 4 Addiction.

Well being


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