Escaping domestic violence takes courage, determination and self-awareness. Poster campaigns about domestic violence often concentrate on the stark reality of the women’s lives before they escape, rather than afterwards.
When I recently changed the blog layout and styling, I had to add some photos to the posts that had none. One blog post that had no photo was one from the We Believe You Rape Awareness campaign. It was a rather harrowing tale of a woman who had been badly abused by her partner, until she found the strength to walk out, taking her young daughter with her.
When I was searching for a photo to illustrate this post, I noticed that there was very little choice of motive. Google image search for ‘domestic violence’ or ‘domestic abuse’ turned up pics of:
- woman with bruised face
- woman cowering beneath man with raised fist
- woman crying in the corner
- woman with hand over mouth, or gesturing for silence
- woman holding up hand, in ‘stop’ gesture
- man shouting at woman
The story that I was telling was ultimately a positive one – the woman survived. So I searched instead for ‘domestic violence survivor’. The results were slightly better, but few really inspiring photos. And it got me wondering why that is.
Why almost all posters raising awareness of domestic violence show similar images.
I found one or two images that portrayed the woman in a positive light – as a survivor rather than a victim. Just as we talk of ‘rape survivors’ rather than ‘rape victims’ to give the power back to the woman. It would interest me to know if there has been research in this area – I have not been able to find anything so far.
Women in an abusive relationship look at a bruised face every day in a mirror, they don’t need to see it on a poster. Perhaps we should be concentrating on showing the alternative. A happy and peaceful home. A home where they can do and say what they want without fear. A home where they don’t have to walk on eggshells in fear of upsetting their partner.
What do you think?