The Salvation Army in South Africa have turned an internet meme into a powerful message about domestic violence.
Repurposing ‘The Dress’ image that went completely viral last week, causing every office around the world to argue about whether they saw white and gold or black or blue with countless articles for and against, the Salvos have brought wilful blindness about domestic violence to the forefront.
In the advert, which has also gone viral with people applauding its cut-through on social media, a woman is covered in bruises and has a black eye. She is wearing a white and gold version of ‘The Dress’ and the ad reads, “why is it so hard to see black and blue”. Underneath that it says, “one in six women are victims of abuse, that’s no illusion.”
The ad cleverly dismantles common rhetoric around the victims of domestic violence, that it was somehow the victim’s fault, they should just leave. As though it was that simple.
This year’s Australian of the Year, Rosie Batty, whose son was murdered in an incident of domestic violence that shocked the nation, has become a vocal and powerful campaigner for domestic violence. Leaving, says Batty, is fraught, complicated and difficult for those in violent relationships. It is also the most dangerous time in an abusive relationship.
Rosie Batty is putting domestic violence at the forefront of the agenda this year. She will use her national platform to change, finally, Australia’s shocking statistics on domestic violence. The Australian Bureau of Statistics states that one in three women will experience physical violence from the age of 15, one in five women will experience sexual violence in their lifetimes. One woman each week will be murdered by her partner. One in four children will be exposed to domestic violence.
The issue has previously been something that we didn’t like to talk about. But that culture of silence, and shame, is over. As Rosie Batty said in her acceptance speech for her Australian of the Year award,
“[Family violence] is an entrenched epidemic that we’ve lived with since time began, so we’ve got a long way to go. But I do believe the tide is turned. It’s no longer a subject that only occurs behind closed doors.”
Now, seeing black and blue, is something that we will talk about – and act on it.