Harrowing Domestic Violence PSA Reminds Us Abuse Is Still Happening Behind Closed Doors

Film urges vigilance as incidents of domestic violence surge in lockdown

Image shows a man washing his hands
Domestic violence campaign by MRM McCann highlights that victims are stuck at home with abusers. MRM McCann/No More
Headshot of Sara Spary

Being cooped up at home is tough. But for victims of domestic abuse trapped at home with an abuser, home can also be a terrifying, dangerous place of violence.

This is the message from domestic abuse charity the No More Foundation by MRM McCann in a new PSA ad.

The spot, running in the U.S. and U.K., shows a man washing his hands before panning onto the background, where the legs of a woman on the floor come into view.

“There’s an epidemic you can’t wash your hands of,” the text reads. “During the Covid-19 crisis, domestic violence has risen dramatically.”

Editor’s note: This PSA may be triggering to survivors of domestic violence.

The American version of the spot asks concerned people to call the National Domestic Violence Hotline on 1-800-799-7233, while the U.K. version urges people to download Bright Sky. This app lists local domestic abuse numbers. Both remind people to call for help, 911 in the U.S. or 999 in Britain, in an emergency.

The campaign is the latest in a string of ads designed to raise awareness of the dangers that domestic abuse victims are facing during the quarantine.

According to new figures from the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), incidents of domestic violence are expected to surge by 20% over the period as victims become locked indoors with perpetrators.

A separate UN report earlier this month showed that calls to domestic violence helplines in some countries had doubled and even tripled. At the same time, Google searches for domestic violence help are at the highest rate for five years in Australia.

Amid this crisis, domestic abuse charities have been advertising to raise awareness of the dangers victims face.

Earlier this month, TBWA\Dublin created an as part of the Department of Justice and Equality’s #StillHere campaign, which offers resources to people experiencing domestic abuse during the pandemic.

And in Britain, Women’s Aid ran a print ad in Vanity Fair by agency Engine to communicate to readers that patterns of coercive behavior and control are abuse and call for donations to support victims.

“The PSA is powerful and disturbing in a way that we hope inspires more people to take domestic violence seriously and become allies in the effort to stop and prevent it–during this crisis and beyond,” Pamela Zaballa, global executive director of No More said.

The Fans. The Brands. Social Good. The Future of Sports. Don't miss the upcoming Brandweek Sports Marketing Summit and Upfronts, a live virtual experience on Nov. 16-19. Early-bird passes available until Oct. 26. Register now

@saramayspary sara.spary@adweek.com Sara Spary is a freelance journalist based in London. She's been a reporter for eight years, covering advertising and consumer brands.