We are excited to announce the launching of a new initiative, the National Alliance for Safe Housing (NASH)! The new alliance will work to provide greater access to safe housing for survivors of domestic and sexual violence across the United States. This project is the result of years of hard work – we will be collaborating with our partners at the Washington State Coalition Against Domestic Violence, Volunteers of America Home Free in Portland, Oregon and the DC Coalition Against Domestic Violence.
The National Alliance for Safe Housing (NASH)’s overall goal is to ensure that survivors of domestic violence have access to a full range of housing options as they seek to rebuild their lives safely and free from abuse. “Despite the remarkable work done by so many homeless and victim services providers, for too many survivors, the safe housing and services they desperately need are fragmented, causing them to fall through the cracks,” said DASH Executive Director, Peg Hacskaylo. NASH will collaborate with a broad range of stakeholders in an attempt to close these gaps and create a spectrum of trauma informed safe housing for survivors including: domestic violence, sexual assault, and victim-specific housing programs, as well as homeless service providers and homeless Continuums of Care.
According to national statistics, survivors of domestic and sexual violence often face homelessness when leaving their abusive homes. On a one-day census among domestic violence programs last year, more than 36,000 survivors of domestic violence received safe housing (in shelters and transitional housing programs), but another 5,778 requests for housing went unmet (National Network to End Domestic Violence, 2014). “The amount of safe housing available to meet survivors’ demand is insufficient, meaning that many they are forced to find housing in homeless shelters or return to abusive partners for lack of availability,” said NASH Director, Larisa.
The new National Alliance for Safe Housing, or (NASH) has been made possible due to a multi-year, $900,000 grant from the Department of Justice, Office of Violence Against Women. We are so grateful for this opportunity.
DASH is an innovator in providing access to safe housing and services for survivors of domestic and sexual violence, and their families, as they rebuild their lives on their own terms. We envision a culture where safe housing is a human right shared by everyone.
October is Domestic violence Awareness Month! For the next few weeks, we will be working with advocates across the country to raise awareness through events, rallies and campaigns. You are invited to join the District Alliance for Safe Housing (DASH) as we stand up to domestic violence in our community.
10/5 – Metro Awareness Day: Stop by the NoMa Metro Station before or after work to help #SpreadLoveDC and take a photo with our team!
10/20 – BalderDASH!: Buy a ticket to our annual celebration at the Mansion on O Street and enjoy music, games and tours of the Mansion!
10/22 – Purple Thursday: Wear purple to stand in solidarity with survivors of domestic violence. Tag @DASHDC and #PurpleThursday. Interested in hosting a fundraiser for Purple Thursday? Contact Jasmine at 202-462-3274 x227.
Note: This is the 7th post in DASH’s ongoing What It Takes blog series, which examines and explains the various factors that make getting safe from abuse so difficult. Each post explores factors that survivors have to navigate on their journey to finding safety. Learn more about the campaign at the What It Takes page, and please spread the word: #WhatItTakesDC.
The biggest barrier for survivors trying to find safety from abuse is access to safe, stable housing for them and their children. Check out our blog from last week for more information on the shortage of housing for survivors of domestic violence in the District. This week we are exploring this issue in a more personal way through the story of Alice, a former DASH resident. Alice was the keynote speaker at the 5th annual Allies in Change event in April 2015 – below she explains the barriers that she faced when trying to leave her abuser and find a safe place to stay.
Hello my name is Alice; I became a resident at (DASH) January 22, 2010. I came to (DASH) due to domestic violence, I was not physically abused but emotionally and verbally abused.
I will not forget the day I said I had enough of my abuser which was my son’s father. On 12/22/2009, my abuser came home high on P.C.P, he has been an addict since his mom died on May 25, 2007. Back then I worked the night shift at a nursing home in upper NW. As I was getting ready for work a loud “boom” came from the living room of my home. My abuser tossed our son across the room, he was high and hallucinating. His words were “that’s not my son he looks like a monster” quickly I fought him for throwing my son, I walked into the kitchen when I turned around there was a long butcher knife to my neck. He told me if I moved he will kill me. That’s when I knew my life and the life of my children were in danger.
I called the police and no arrest was made, they asked that he remove himself from the residence. I wasn’t able to go to work that night due to the incident and at the time I was the only one working. My son was not hurt in this attack he was 15 months at the time. The New Year was approaching and I knew I was going to leave him. I didn’t have anywhere to run due to lack of family support. I reached out to family but all seem to reject me and even my situation. Sometimes they would go as far to say “I told you so” and at that time safety and comfort was more important than criticism.
Finally I went to the D.C. Superior Court to file a (CPO) against my abuser. The judge granted the order the same day; the court building assisted me with “Crime Victims Compensation” my daughter, son and I were placed in a shelter. The shelter I was placed in was worse than the home that I had just left. I was placed in one room, with no bathroom. It was just a room with a one full size bed, a sink and a small size refrigerator. I shared a bathroom with 7 other women many of the women got high in the bathroom. They always seem to smoke P.C.P and every time I smelled that odor it took me back to that moment. My children and I didn’t eat a balanced meal for 2 weeks we lived off microwave dinners.
Showering at this shelter was terrible many of the women were having sex in the bathroom. There were used condoms on the floor, drug bags, and crack pipes even blood stains around the toilet seat. Me and my kids washed up over a small sink inside of our room for 2 weeks. When I left my abuser and also my apartment I left everything, I left with one outfit and my kids had 3 outfits a piece. I didn’t have any money to survive he stole what little I did have saved.
Finally on 1/22/2010 I received a phone call from DASH to come in for an intake. I rushed to gather my personal documents I was placed 2 days later. Finally I felt safe and comfortable they gave me a two bedroom apartment “It actually looked better than the apartment I was paying $1000 for” to live in. The apartment was furnished 100% my kids were so happy. I haven’t seen them smile in days at that time my kids were 1 and 3 years old.
I will never forget the first thing we did was shower for a long time and I cooked a home cooked meal “You would have thought it was Thanksgiving in January” I cried so many nights wondering how did I allow myself to fail me and my children all for one individual love. While at DASH I used every resource available to me. The first program I lived in at DASH was Huruma it was a 60 day program. I was afraid at times that me and my children would be homeless again.
I worked with my advocate every time I was scheduled. She found resources for employment, school, and permanent housing. I lost my job because I didn’t have childcare me and my children safety was more important at the time. I enrolled into school to become a (CNA) the course was a 4 week program. I completed this course successfully. One day DASH had a meeting with all residents announcing they were opening a bigger location.
I already knew I wasn’t going to be part of their growth because my time was almost up. Then when they said “ALICE you are going with us,” I cried so hard I was more than thankful and over joyed. I picked the kids up from daycare they were enrolled full-time. I told the kids about the exciting news even though they were too young to understand. The day had come for me to move out I was packed and ready to go I signed my 2 year lease at DASH’s new location called Cornerstone.
They placed my keys inside of hand my apartment, 1D which meant to me “ONE DREAM, ONE DESTINY, and ONE DESIRE” At DASH I built a trusting relationship and also a loving one. DASH was and is really there to help women become better and do better. They had yoga, zumba, meditation, childcare “playroom”, and potlucks, cooking classes, crochet, counseling, addiction counseling, advocate support, clothes and food drives, holiday baskets and free give a ways, to basketball games, President Easter egg roll and much more.
I really enjoyed myself while living at DASH, this program has changed me as a mother, daughter and even as a person and the way I think today. When I came to DASH I was bitter, angry, frustrated, depressed and sometimes disrespectful because I was mad at myself. I had to take medication to control my behavior back then.
I advocated for myself so many times via email, phone and writing letters. I called DCHA almost every day I fought for permanent housing. I told them my story every time I had the opportunity too. One day I came home to DASH I checked my mailbox a letter from housing was sitting there. I opened the letter and they accepted my request and I danced across the main lobby floor.
I was schedule to come in for an interview 3/13/12. Everything was approved I moved into my own permanent housing 8/31/12 a three bedroom house where I live today. I moved into my own home I promised myself no man could live with me not like my abuser again unless it was my husband.
I never knew if I would get married but I did want to marry before the age 35, I’m 28 years old now through the trials and tribulations I have been a full time college student since 3/12/12. I’m majoring in criminal justice to become a homicide detective. I’m proud to announce in 2 weeks I will graduate with my bachelor’s degree.
During my time in college in 2012, I met a wonderful man, his smile, his walk, his personality was nothing but positive. He looked passed my story he promised me a better future and we have been best friends since. This year on 1/15/2015 I married this amazing man that I admired and he also admired me I’m no longer just Alice I am now Alice, a strong survivor.
Note: This is the 5th post in a new blog series by DASH called ‘Domestic Violence Matters’, which discusses current events and media coverage of domestic violence. We believe that empowering, provocative, and original media and storytelling must play a critical role in helping to overcome domestic violence in our society.
In a single day last September there were 28 unmet requests for safe housing from survivors of domestic violence in DC, according to the new Domestic Violence Counts Report. This means that in the space of twenty-four hours, 28 women and men gathered the courage to meet with an advocate in an attempt to find a safe place to stay but were turned away. These 28 survivors of domestic violence were then left with two options — go back to their abuser or become homeless.
Each year the National Network Against Domestic Violence (NNEDV) works with local organizations to gather data on the types of domestic violence services requested and provided across the United States. The 2015 report sheds light on some important trends in the DC area.
On September 10th, 2014:
847 victims of domestic violence were served (53% increase from 2013)
499 victims were safely housed in emergency and transitional housing (57% increase from 2013)
75 hotline calls were answered (56% increase from 2013)
77 victims requested services that advocates were unable to provide (48% increase from 2013)
“Each week at the Housing Resource Clinic DASH advocates work with dozens of survivors in an attempt to provide them with safe housing access. Some families however, are forced to wait for months in dangerous situations because domestic violence shelters in the District are constantly at capacity. This report shows us what we already know – there are not enough options for survivors in DC, we need to be doing more.”- DASH Executive Director, Peg Hacskaylo
At DASH we believe that having a place to stay free from abuse is a fundamental human right. No one should have to choose between living in an abusive home and being homeless. Since DASH was founded in 2006 we have doubled the number of safe beds for survivors in the District, and in the next year we will continue to work to expand our services to meet the growing need.
Note: This is the sixth post in DASH’s ongoing What It Takes blog series, which examines and explains the various factors that make getting safe from abuse so difficult. Each post explores factors that survivors have to navigate on their journey to finding safety. Learn more about the campaign at the What It Takes page, and please spread the word: #WhatItTakesDC.
When a survivor of domestic violence decides to leave an abusive relationship, it doesn’t always mean they are deciding to leave their home or community. In places like DC, survivors who decide not to move are informed of their right to have their locks changed quickly in order to stay as safe as possible.
Deciding to Stay
Escaping abuse is often an isolating experience for survivors. In order to find safety, they are forced to uproot their families, leave their community and transfer schools. Leaving an abusive relationship is already difficult; it’s a time when survivors need support from loved ones more than ever. It’s understandable that some survivors choose not to leave their home, even if they are leaving their abuser. For these men and women, a DASH advocate strongly recommends that they get a protection order and change their locks as soon as possible, “don’t just change your locks,” she adds, “add new ones on the windows and all doors, and get a security system. Do everything you can to feel safe.” There are a few ways that survivors can get financial assistance for these precautions detailed below.
Before a survivor decides to stay in their home it’s important that they speak with an advocate to assess their situation. A DASH advocate warns that survivors don’t always realize the full danger of their relationship, “when you are in a domestic violence relationship, abuse, even intense physical abuse, becomes normalized. It can also be hard for them to believe that the person they love is capable of really dangerous behavior. But the reality is that the majority of domestic violence homicides occur when a survivor is trying to leave – it’s the most dangerous time for them.” It’s crucial therefore that survivors speak with a domestic violence advocate and do a danger assessment to ensure that staying is a safe choice for them. A danger assessment will look at whether or not the abuser owns a gun, the intensity and frequency of the physical abuse, drug use and past threats of violence.
A Temporary Step to Safety
Regardless of whether you choose to stay or leave your home the DASH housing advocate recommends that survivors get their locks changed immediately. Finding safe housing in DC is a process, it can take families months of looking and meeting with advocates to find a new place to stay, “we work with some clients over a period of several months trying to get them access to safe housing so they can leave their current situation,” says one DASH housing specialist. It’s important that survivors acted quickly after they’ve left their abuser, change the locks, obtain a protection order and find a new route to work and school. For some survivors changing locks is just a temporary solution in their long term goal of stability and safety.
A How to Guide
Regardless of whether changing the locks is a temporary or long term solution; survivors are able to apply for financial assistance, check out our housing resource page for more information.
You can learn more about what it takes for survivors to get safe at WhatItTakes.org or donate to DASH to support access to safe housing for survivors.
Note: This is a guest third post in a new blog series by DASH called ‘Domestic Violence Matters’, which discusses current events and media coverage of domestic violence. We believe that empowering, provocative, and original media and storytelling must play a critical role in helping to overcome domestic violence in our society.
Over one thousand homeless families in the DC area cited a domestic violence relationship as their current cause of homelessness.
Each year the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) partners with local communities to engage in a nationwide count of homeless individuals and families living in emergency shelter, transitional housing, or unsheltered locations. On January 28, 2015, volunteers were tasked to collect this data to better understand the major causes of homelessness in the D.C. region.
Below are four of the findings that correlate domestic violence and homelessness in the District:
1. Domestic violence is strongly correlated with family homelessness. Domestic violence was the most defining characteristic among homeless families. Over 30% of the families surveyed indicated having experienced domestic violence in the past, and 19% reported their current episode of homelessness was caused by domestic violence.
2. Homelessness overall decreased. There are 11,623 homeless individuals in the region. Overall homelessness in the metro area decreased by 2.7 percent (or 323 people) from 2014.
3. Domestic violence related homelessness, however, is on the rise for individuals. Among single adults, homelessness caused by domestic violence increased 65%.
4. The increase is even more dramatic for homeless families. Among homeless families, domestic violence related homelessness rose 322% from 261 in 2014 to 1,101 this year. Over one thousand homeless families in the DC area cited a domestic violence relationship as their current cause of homelessness.
DASH’s mission is to be an innovator in providing access to safe housing and services to survivors of domestic violence and sexual violence and their families as they rebuild their lives on their own terms. Support families today.
Learn more about DASH’s safe housing programs for survivors of domestic and sexual violence and their families in the District.
Note: This is the fifth post in DASH’s ongoing What It Takes blog series, which examines and explains the various factors that make getting safe from abuse so difficult. Each post explores factors that survivors have to navigate on their journey to finding safety. Learn more about the campaign at the What It Takes page, and please spread the word: #WhatItTakesDC.
This is a guest post from the DASH Community Housing Resource Specialist.
I am Community Housing Resource Specialist at the DASH Housing Resource Clinic. The Clinic takes place on Wednesdays from 1:30-3:30pm at the Westminister Presbyterian Church on 400 I St SW, DC.
The Housing Resource Center is the hub of DASH’s efforts to prevent homelessness among domestic violence survivors. Through the Housing Resource Center, DASH staff partner with My Sisters Place and the DC Volunteer Lawyers Project we work to provide a full spectrum of legal, housing and counseling services for survivors. We assist survivors in completing housing applications, obtaining safety transfers, navigating the public housing system, and making connections to community services in order to help them find safety from abuse.
The Clinic is a judgment free zone, it’s a place for survivors to come and talk through their situation in a safe, clean space.
Providing Support for Survivors
Each week I work with between 6 and 25 men and women from all backgrounds and situations. There is no typical day at the clinic because no domestic violence situation is the same. Last week I spoke with a survivor who traveled from a small town in Delaware to talk to DASH about our services. She came from a small community with one shelter, her husband of 23 years would find out if she tried to access services there. Survivors come to the clinic in a variety of emotional states. Some are young and desperate, in the middle of a new domestic violence relationship, others have been with the same abuser for decades and finally decided it was enough, but regardless – they all need a safe place to go. I work with them to find some normalcy and stability.
The Clinic is a judgment free zone, it’s a place for survivors to come and talk through their situation in a safe, clean space. Sometimes talking is all they need, they just need someone to say, “you can do this”. I worked with a woman in the process of leaving her abuser who couldn’t access housing because she had a $2,400 unpaid debt. While we were in the process of trying to support her financially through the Survivor Resilience Fund – she called the collection agency herself and negotiated her debt down to $1,000, set up her own payment schedule and decided she didn’t need financial assistance. All she needed was an ear and a safe place to hear herself think.
For some survivors, just seeing other people in the clinic waiting room going through the same thing is enough. It’s creates a sense of community – they are not alone. They often trade resources and tips while they wait.
Barriers to Safety
Many survivors I meet with face additional burdens outside of domestic violence. They often struggle with addiction, lack financial security or have a criminal record. Part of what makes DASH a safe place is that we are not the government or the police. Many of my clients have had negative experiences with Law Enforcement that make it hard for them to put their trust in the police. Some don’t feel that when they’ve called the police, they’ve been taken seriously, while others have even been arrested. I met with a transgender woman who called the police after a domestic violence incidence and had the officer tell her to, “pack a bag and never come back,” which would have pushed her into homelessness. Another officer allegedly told a client to stop drinking and go to bed when she called 911 on her physically abusive husband. Survivors need a place where they feel completely safe, and the DASH Clinic is that place.
The biggest barrier for survivors trying to find safety is housing access. Housing Programs in DC are at capacity – including DASH. I often have to work with survivors for months before I am able to place them in safe housing. Most recently I met with a woman who was living with her two teenagers in her place of employment because they had nowhere else to go when she left her abuser.
We help folks at the Clinic, and that’s why I think it should always be around.
Her first husband and the father of her children had been supportive, loving and calm. When he passed away she remarried to a controlling and emotionally abusive man. She paid the rent in their 3 bedroom house but he wouldn’t let her or her children have a key. He often made them wait outside for 45 minutes when they came home before letting them come in. He timed her teenagers as they used the bathroom before school; each was only allowed 3 minutes to get ready. He even kept a padlock on the fridge that only he had a key to limiting their access to food in the house.
Eventually she decided it was too much. One Saturday she packed all their stuff and took them to her office. The office didn’t have a shower or kitchen so they had to eat take out almost every day. Sometimes they would get a hotel room just to take showers. When her employer found out, she was forced to disclose her abuse and find a new place to stay.
Now at DASH, her children have a place to sleep and be comfortable. They are on time for school; one is graduating this year. She is still working, saving money for her own place. DASH allowed her to take a breath and for the next two years she can plan for the future.
The Housing Resource Clinic is a place where survivors can feel safe and heard. With our partnership with the DC Volunteers Lawyers Project and My Sisters Place, we are able to provide comprehensive, collaborative support for survivors. We help folks at the Clinic, and that’s why I think it should always be around.
You can learn more about what it takes for survivors to get safe at WhatItTakes.org or donate to DASHto support access to safe housing for survivors.
“Many people think those in a domestic violence situation have an easy way out,” DASH Executive Director Peg Hacskaylo said. “But the reality is, victims are forced to overcome a host of obstacles and barriers in order to get safe from abuse.”
While finding access to safe housing options is often essential, DASH emphasizes that it is not the only factor preventing protection and security. Through this campaign DASH shows that survivors may need to overcome a list of obstacles.
These include, but are not limited to, enlisting law enforcement for restraining or protective orders, receiving support from family and friends, and compiling key documents and changing phone numbers. These steps are often necessary and are made to be even more difficult when they must be done with extra caution.
Besides the tangible resources required, there are also significant emotional factors to be considered.
“Psychological abuse is common in domestic violence relationships – abusers use threats and intimidation to maintain control over their partner,” Hacskaylo said. “For this reason, it takes a tremendous amount of courage to find safety from abuse.”
To find out more about how you can get involved, visit www.WhatItTakesDC.com. Spread the word to help spread awareness by using #WhatItTakesDC.
Every 16 minutes, someone in the DC area calls 911 for a domestic violence-related incident. DASH provides key resources including safe housing and services for survivors of domestic violence. From emergency and long-term housing to support and expert advice about available options, DASH helps survivors rebuild their lives on their own terms.
DASH is an innovator in providing access to safe housing and services to survivors of domestic and sexual violence and their families as they rebuild their lives on their own terms. www.dashdc.org
About Ad 2 DC:
Ad 2 DC represents a group of like-minded young professionals in the D.C. Metro area, 32 years old and younger, either employed or interested in the world of advertising and its related fields – account executives, graphics designers, media specialists, PR professionals, writers – creating a diverse organization focused on being awesome, becoming more awesome, getting noticed and giving back to the community. www.dcadclub.com/ad2dc
Note: This is the fourth post in DASH’s ongoing What It Takes blog series, which examines and explains the various factors that make getting safe from abuse so difficult. Each post explores factors that survivors have to navigate on their journey to finding safety. Learn more about the campaign at the What It Takes page, and please spread the word: #WhatItTakesDC.
The National Domestic Violence Hotline reports that “digital domestic abuse” is on the rise, “more girls are reporting that their boyfriends stalk them via text message or threaten to humiliate them with social media. What starts in cyberspace rarely ends there,” writes the Daily Beast.
What is Digital Domestic Violence?
Digital domestic violence is the act of harassing or stalking a former or current partner through technology and social media. Abusers are increasingly using Bluetooth, spyware and popular location check in apps like squarespace to track their partner’s location. It’s alarming that abusers can remotely install these tracking applications on their partner’s phones without the survivor ever knowing. “When your abuser is tracking your phone, it means he knows when you seek shelter and help, even the route you take to work and can access your text messages to friends and family. It’s a way for him to maintain power and control with threats to ensure that you don’t leave him,” cautions a DASH advocate.
She eventually realized that her abuser was tracking her location via the Bluetooth on her phone.
One DASH client reported that her ex-husband went as far as installing tracking devices on her two cars after the divorce. She was forced to leave her cars in different states in order to throw him off and protect her safety. Another survivor reported that her abuser kept appearing at the grocery store when she was there shopping. She started going to grocery stores across town at weird hours of the day but he would always show up. She eventually realized that her abuser was tracking her location via the Bluetooth on her phone.
Harassment is the other common form of digital abuse. Abusers intimidate and harass their partners by posting or threatening to post incriminating photos and statuses or sensitive information about their partners. Photos that were once private between two people in a relationship suddenly become public for all to see – and often the survivor gets unfairly blamed. Abusers also send threatening messages and texts to their abusers, forcing them to live in fear.
It can be really traumatizing for survivors trying to find safety because you don’t know what they are capable of or when it’s going to stop.
A DASH advocate says this is not uncommon, “Clients come in all the time with stories about what their abusers are doing online, sending messages, posting nude photos and constantly taunting them. It can be really traumatizing for survivors trying to find safety because you don’t know what they are capable of or when it’s going to stop.” One DASH client reported that her abuser was creating fake Facebook profiles under her name and then adding all of her friends and family. He would then use the profile to taunt her. He posted explicit photos of her, wrote false statuses about her parenting skills and tagged her family members. When she would report the page and have it taken down, he would create another page. It’s proven difficult to combat digital abuse because it so often happens anonymously, states a DASH advocate.
Isolation or Safety?
Because of this, survivors of domestic violence are limited with few options and often have to isolate themselves from their friends and family by changing their phone number and email address and deleting their social media accounts. Otherwise, they risk continued harassment and stalking from their abusers. For survivors who want to maintain contact with friends and family but also to stay safe from abuse, it can be difficult to know what to do.
It’s suggested that survivors use aliases instead of real names online, but even that isn’t foolproof. “Depending on your Facebook friends or your profile picture, even if your Facebook is private or under a different name, they can still track you down,” says the DASH Housing Clinic advocate.
What can survivors do? Don’t take risks, get a new phone, and delete your profiles. This can be really isolating, however, for survivors who want to continue having contact with their support network of friends and family. For survivors who decide to maintain an online presence it’s important to change all passwords and be extremely conscious of the photos that are being posted. Even something small like a piece of furniture, a street sign or a car interior can be used by abusers to stalk and harass. As part of a survivor’s safety plan, consider using a computer or device outside of the home such as at a library or at the home of a family member or friend where the abuser would not have access.
You can learn more about what it takes for survivors to get safe at WhatItTakes.org or donate to DASH to support access to safe housing for survivors here.
And how domestic violence campaigners are leveraging new media to change the conversation
Note: This is a guest post by Ad 2 DC, it’s the second post in a new blog series by DASH called ‘Domestic Violence Matters’, which discusses current events and media coverage of domestic violence. We believe that empowering, provocative, and original media and storytelling must play a critical role in helping to overcome domestic violence in our society.
Chris Brown hitting Rihanna. Ray Rice’s infamous striking of his partner Janae, and the ensuing NFL cover-up controversy. In recent times, high-profile cases of domestic violence are dominating news headlines and generating passionate discussions on- and offline.
But does all of this media coverage actually help the cause of those seeking to end domestic violence? Is it helping us to get at the root causes of the problem, to educate the general population and acquire resources for our programs and services? Does the buzz and clickbait actually educate or drive for positive change? Unfortunately, we believe the answer is no, at least without more context and advocacy.
Luckily, advocates against domestic violence are creating innovative, compelling media that leverage current headlines and memes to further the domestic violence conversation in meaningful ways. As you check out DASH’s picks for the most powerful campaigns below, notice that they share some common best practices:
Shock and surprise: The best domestic violence PSAs tend not to go the obvious route, choosing instead to lure in their audience by using a hook with mass appeal, such as a viral meme. This increases just how powerful and memorable the actual message is when revealed.
Subtlety and understatement: Sometimes the loudest message can be communicated in a quiet way. Using silence or suspended interest leads, some of the best domestic violence PSAs leave the audience to fill in the gaps, encouraging them to be similarly proactive when applying the message to their own lives and societies.
Innovative use of technology: While we might expect big name brands to wow us with new, tech-savvy advertising, certain social cause marketers have also shown their ability to utilize technology (facial recognition software, text donating) to get their message and calls to action to stand out. The British “Look At Me” campaign (number 3 below) is a prime example of a domestic violence organization whose campaign is at the cutting edge of advertising technology.
Below we highlight six of the most powerful and far reaching domestic violence viral ads of recent times, which we hope will continue to inspire and raise awareness about the pervasive issue of domestic violence.
The South African branch of the Salvation Army ingeniously leveraged the “What color is this dress?” meme to direct attention towards domestic violence survivors with this somber message. Using clever, concise copy (“Why is it so hard to see black and blue?”) and powerful imagery, the ad rapidly leveraged a broad-based meme and directed attention to the #StopAbuseAgainstWomen campaign.
Released on Twitter, the tweet drew over 17,000 retweets and worldwide coverage (HuffPo link) well beyond South Africa.
2.“Slap Her” video (Fanpage.it, Italy)
Released in January, this uplifting three minute video features several young Italian boys being asked to slap a girl. Each of them refuse, providing reasons such as “because I’m against violence,” and “because I’m a man.” The video–which combines sweetness and sentimentality–effectively contrasts the basic character of these boys against domestic violence in adult society. It ends with a powerful quote from a 6-year old: “In the kids’ world, women don’t get hit.”
As the Huffington Post noted, the video’s message is particularly important in Italy, “where the United Nations has reported domestic abuse is “the most pervasive form of violence,” and almost 32 percent of women between the ages of 16 and 70 experience some form of physical or sexual violence in their lifetimes.”
Produced by Italian video journalist Luva Lavarone for the news company fanpage.it, the video has been viewed more than 27 million times, garnering media coverage and discussion, as well as a response video from India that asks girls to slap a boy, demonstrating that domestic violence is not acceptable, regardless of gender.
3. “Look At Me” (Women’s Aid, United Kingdom)
Launched for International Women’s Day (March 8), this interactive billboard featuring a battered woman changes when bystanders look at the image, using facial recognition technology. As more people who look at the image, the woman’s injuries heal more rapidly, sending a powerful and technologically visceral message of the benefits of not ignoring domestic violence.
In addition, the bottom of the billboard features a live stream of the crowd. Bystanders who look towards the ad will see their faces picked out of the crowd, further compelling audience engagement. Finally, using location marketing software, passersby automatically receive text messages that enable them to donate directly to Women’s Aid, a British domestic violence charity.
4. “One Photo a Day in the Worst Year Of My Life” (B92, Serbia)
Created by the B92 Fund, a Serbian radio and TV broadcaster, this shocking video leveraged the “One photo a day” trend, featuring a young woman who begins the year healthy and happy, before descending rapidly into increasingly severe states of abuse. The video ends with the woman holding up a sign stating: “Help me, I don’t know if I will survive until tomorrow,” highlighting the speed with which previously healthy relationships can turn abusive.
It was launched in response to alarming domestic violence statistics in Serbia, where 11 women and two children were killed in domestic violence incidents in the first two months of 2013. Launched in March 2013, the video has been viewed over 42 million times, after initially gaining global traction via reddit.
5. “Woman’s Reaction to England World Cup Knockout” (Tender Education and Arts, UK)
This subtle, surprising advertisement was released during the Football World Cup in June 2014. Featuring a woman nervously cheering England on, it lures audiences in by looking much like other World Cup-related advertisements. However, her expression changes after the team loses and it ends in silence with a powerful statistic: “Domestic violence rises 38% when England gets knocked out of the World Cup.” The ad’s timing in the lead-up to England’s elimination effectively pre-empted the specific factors that may trigger domestic violence incidents.
Released by Tender, a British charity that uses theater and the arts to engage young people in violence prevention, the video has been viewed more than 900,000 times on YouTube.
6. “No More” Superbowl Ad” (NFL, United States)
Following a number of high profile incidents, and widespread criticism for its longstanding neglect of domestic violence cases involving its players, the NFL responded with a PSA campaign featuring “No More.” During the Superbowl, it released this chilling PSA featuring an actual phone call in which a domestic violence survivor disguises her 911 call for help by pretending to order a pizza.
The call was based on an actual 911 dispatcher’s reddit post, and brings to light the difficulty domestic violence victims often face in asking for help. The ad has been viewed more than 7 million times on YouTube.
The “No More” campaign also launched another stark, powerful PSA featuring celebrity NFL players calling for an end to common phrases used to ignore or justify domestic violence:
Which of these campaigns did you find most powerful? Which message did you think was most relevant to its audience? Please leave a comment below. We’d love to hear your thoughts!