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Domestic abuse – no excuse for media to use poor photos with launch of survivor-inspired images

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Scotland’s media has no excuse for using inappropriate images depicting domestic abuse with the launch of a collection of photos available for free use.

Domestic Abuse – The Reality, by Laura Dodsworth, commissioned by Scottish Womens Aid. Copyright Laura Dodsworth

Newspapers and broadcasters are often criticised for using images depicting physical violence with articles about domestic abuse, even though much of the abuse is not violent.  It can comprise bullying, controlling behaviour, intimidation, coercion, threats, psychological, emotional or financial abuse.

Now Scottish Women’s Aid and Zero Tolerance have launched a new creative project in collaboration with survivors to show the reality of domestic abuse.

a thousand words is a collection of 15 powerful photos taken by acclaimed photographer and storyteller Laura Dodsworth based on the words and experiences of women who have lived through domestic abuse.

The images created are unique; contrary to most depictions of domestic abuse they do not show bruises, or physical violence. Inspired by Scotland’s new Domestic Abuse Bill, the charities say that this is a critical step forward in raising public awareness that domestic abuse is far more than physical violence. In releasing these images the survivors, charities and photographer hope that women will recognise their own experiences and seek the support that is available.

Domestic Abuse – The Reality, by Laura Dodsworth, commissioned by Scottish Womens Aid. Copyright Laura Dodsworth

One survivor said:“I spent a long time denying to myself I was actually being abused. It took me four years to recognise my situation.

“Bruises are the standard thing in photos of domestic abuse. There’s a theme that it looks like the man is getting angry and losing control, but often the abuser is very much in control. Abuse is also emotional, financial, verbal and being isolated. If photographs always show hitting or bruises it means that men who don’t hit absolve themselves of the label abuser because they don’t leave bruises. Also it makes people think that if a woman doesn’t have bruises she must be OK.”

Brenna Jessie, of Scottish Women’s Aid said: “So often at Women’s Aid we hear women question whether their experience counts as abuse – they have no black eye, they have no burst lip.  a thousand words is important, because we desperately want people to know that there is no hierarchy when it comes to abuse; whether it’s controlling behaviour, threats, humiliation, sexual or physical violence – it all ‘counts’ and it is all real abuse.”

Domestic Abuse – The Reality, by Laura Dodsworth, commissioned by Scottish Womens Aid. Copyright Laura Dodsworth

Lydia House, of Zero Tolerance added: “Domestic abuse affects women of all classes, ages and backgrounds but current stock images don’t reflect this. With a thousand words publications have a real choice in the images they use to illustrate stories about domestic abuse; we hope to see a real step forwards in the depth and diversity of women’s stories represented by the media.”

All the images are represented by models and are available for all publications to use as no cost as stock photography for domestic abuse, coercive control and Scotland’s new bill.

People who feel scared or worried in their relationship are encouraged to call Scotland’s Domestic Abuse and Forced Marriage Helpline, which is open 24/7 on 0800 027 1234 or visit www.sdafmh.org.uk.

For further information, contact:-

Brenna Jessie, External Affairs at Scottish Women’s Aid – 07387575163 – brenna.jessie@scottishwomensaid.org.uk

Lydia House, Media & Events at Zero Tolerance – 07826558090 – Lydia.house@zerotolerance.org.uk

The 15  images are available for all publications to use at no cost as stock photography for domestic abuse, coercive control and Scotland’s new Bill.  The images can be downloaded here.

 

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