Women’s Aid show hidden messages to raise awareness of coercive control

Most people assume domestic violence is always physical but it’s not.

Imagine always being told that your dress is inappropriate, or that you can’t see your friends unless your partner is with you. Imagine someone close to you taking control of your bank account, your mobile phone, the food you eat and the exercise you take. These are all patterns of controlling behaviours that can form part of a pattern that builds up to coercive control – where your sense of self is slowly stripped away.

As we approach the first anniversary of the legislation that criminalised coercive control, we want to raise awareness and understanding that, even if he hasn’t raised his fists, it’s still a crime.

To do this, we’ll use displacement effect, a visual technique that reveals two different headlines depending on your perspective, for the first time in UK advertising. We want to highlight the fact that although coercive control might be more difficult to see than physical violence it can be just as damaging.

As a charity partner of Women's Aid, 8 Outdoor have donated free media space to highlight this issue. It has been timed to coincide with the first anniversary of the introduction of the coercive control legislation and the Christmas period, a time when studies show an increase in incidences of domestic violence.

The campaign will be running on 8 Outdoor screens, across 4 cities (London, Birmingham, Leeds & Edinburgh) in the UK from 19th December, delivering nearly 7 million impacts over the two weeks it is live. All digital Out of Home screens are roadside sites with long dwell time and viewability, so offer the perfect platform for both of the creative messages to be seen by road users as they approach.

Anyone affected by the campaign and the issue of coercive control can go to www.womensaid.org.uk for information and support.


Polly Neate, Chief Executive of Women’s Aid, said:

“Coercive control is the heart of domestic abuse. Physical violence often comes at a later point in an abusive relationship; what comes first is the systematic destruction of a survivor’s self-esteem and autonomy, piece by piece. Women’s Aid campaigned to have coercive control recognised in law, and we are thrilled to have the support of 8 Outdoor and WCRS in communicating what coercive control is to the world in such a cutting-edge way. If we do not understand the nature of domestic abuse, we cannot reduce or prevent it – but this powerful campaign will go a long way to helping many more people understand the reality.”


Ross Neil, ECD of WCRS:

 “The opportunity WCRS has always sought with Women’s Aid is to marry messaging with an element of the interactive. Whether that’s 3D cinema, binaural sound or facial recognition technology. The opportunity for interactivity on a media site that consumers speed past in seconds is therefore slightly limiting. Limiting can also be a challenge to creativity, that is why we are so proud of this piece of work. It uses the displacement illusion to deliver hidden messages to consumers depending on their distance to the media site. Super simple, super effective.”


Cennydd Roberts, Chief Executive Officer of 8 Outdoor:

“We’re extremely proud to be working with Women’s Aid and WCRS to support such an important cause. Out of Home has been a key medium for driving awareness for commercial brands for centuries, so it’s wonderful to be able to provide a platform to deliver messaging in such a unique way, to raise awareness of issues affecting women from all walks of life in the UK”.

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