To mark this most faux-mantic of weeks, Helena Bonham Carter is fronting a V-Day-themed campaign for the charity Refuge, aimed at educating women about some of the signs of domestic abuse. To quote from the press release:
Research shows that many women aren’t aware of the ways in which abusive men control their partners. Yet understanding the signs earlier could help save them from a lifetime of abuse, or even death. It is a shocking fact that 12 women a week in this country die as a result of domestic violence… two women a week are killed by a current or former partner in England and Wales and 10 women commit suicide every week in this country to escape domestic violence.
The ‘Care or Control?’ campaign features four different adverts which use teddy bears to depict domestic violence. This approach takes a radical departure from the frequently used images of battered women and has been done in the hope that women specifically, and society generally, will be less likely to dismiss the adverts as not being relevant to them personally. The adverts feature a domineering male bear who holds a love heart with a message written on it. At first glance the bears and hearts mimic the stereotypical bears often given at Valentine’s Day as tokens of love. But when read more closely, and in full, the messages are in fact sinister and menacing… “You FALL FOR ME every time”… “You will BE MINE forever”… “ONLY YOU make me do this”… “I WANT YOU all to myself”. Each of the four adverts explores a different form of controlling behaviour… jealousy, isolation, blame and charm.
Acclaimed actress, and long term supporter of Refuge’s work, HBC says: “The stereotypical view of domestic violence is a woman with bruising, black eyes and broken bones. But sadly through my work with Refuge I’ve learnt that violence is just one aspect of abuse… I’ve met many women who have been controlled in more subtle ways, but who have still lived in fear, walking on eggshells. I believe this campaign has the ability to reach out to thousands upon thousands of women so they can escape years of abuse and a lifetime of misery.”
Sandra Horley OBE, chief executive at Refuge, says: “Domestic violence is all about power and control. It is unacceptable for a man to control and bully his partner. If a woman is forced to alter her behaviour because she is frightened of her partner’s reaction then she is being abused. Jealousy, isolation, blame and charm are techniques of control which are frequently used by men who perpetrate domestic violence.”