Voices

Britain’s biggest cover up exposed

A hard hitting campaign for the National Centre for Domestic Violence (NCDV) from Wunderman Thompson, exposes the scale of unreported abuse.

Nicola Kemp

Editorial Director

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80% of domestic abuse incidents are never reported.

This is the shocking statistic at the heart of a new campaign for the National Centre for Domestic Violence (NCDV) created by Wunderman Thompson.

The campaign, which features giant,  has created giant, partially covered-up billboard sites, partly hidden films, and blocked social media channels launches tomorrow (25th November), the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women. 

The creative work focuses on the excuses that people give to cover up abuse; such as ‘the garage door fell on me, it happened at my Thai boxing class, or I fell over’. The cover-up comments which hide the levels of domestic abuse in the UK.

The campaign also promotes a number to text for victims who are ready to reveal the truth and might need help with securing a free protective injunction.

“What we are exposing,” explains  Sharon Bryan, Head of Partnerships at NCDV, “is the sheer scale of unreported abuse in England and Wales.  It’s tragic that so many people experiencing domestic abuse don’t feel they can speak out – it means the true scale of the issue is hidden.

She continues: “We at the NCDV want victims and survivors to know that if they are ready to disclose the abuse they are experiencing we can support them with free protective injunctions. Domestic abuse overwhelmingly concerns male perpetrators abusing women but ruins many men’s lives too.  That’s why we are launching this campaign in London at the start of the UN’s 16 days of activism against gender-based violence.” 

Jo Wallace, creative director at Wunderman Thompson, added: “I was shocked and moved to action when I discovered how much abuse goes on without ever being reported. ‘The Big Cover Up’ campaign idea dramatically visualises how the full picture of domestic abuse is literally 80% greater than we’re aware of.  It’s ultimately a clever use of media to deliver a hard-hitting message.”

According to  Government  figures, less than one fifth of women experiencing domestic abuse have reported it to the police *(the latest official Crime Survey of England and Wales for the year ending 2018 puts the figure at just 18%).  Among male victims even fewer still reported it to the police (*In 2021 Mankind put this figure at just 14.7%).

Sharon Bryan, herself a survivor of domestic abuse, added: “There are all sorts of reasons for women and men not coming forward ranging from fear, denial, shame, threats, anxiety over finances to love. Even though 7,000 people contact NCDV every month for help in getting civil Court Orders for protection against their abusers we know we only ever see a small part of the full problem.

I was shocked and moved to action when I discovered how much abuse goes on without ever being reported. ‘The Big Cover Up’ campaign idea dramatically visualises how the full picture of domestic abuse is literally 80% greater than we’re aware of. It’s ultimately a clever use of media to deliver a hard-hitting message

Jo Wallace, creative director at Wunderman Thompson

Changing the narrative

The hard hitting campaign follows in the footsteps of a series of groundbreaking pro-bono campaigns for the NCDV from Wunderman Thompson. These included the ‘Abusers Always Work From Home’ campaign and ‘The Not So Beautiful Game’ campaign, which highlighted the impact of the Coronavirus crisis and the World Cup respectively as triggers for domestic violence.

Bryan noted that the message is that we must, as a society, bring the true extent of domestic abuse to light before we can have any hope of eliminating it. She explained: “NCDV urges victims, survivors, their families and friends together with public bodies, businesses and members of the public to recognise domestic abuse for what it is - a crime -and call it out wherever they encounter it. Together with statutory and voluntary services, women’s groups, third sector organisations and many others, NCDV’s long-term goal is to make domestic abuse socially unacceptable.” 

Each month the NCDV receives over 7000 calls from people suffering from, or at severe risk of, domestic abuse, including controlling behaviour.  Most of these callers are women who have been referred by the police and other domestic abuse support agencies. NCDV’s work has been recognised in thousands of accolades from victims and survivors, individual police officers, charities and celebrity supporters.