British TV Ad Asks: Watching Yourself, ‘Would You See Rape?’
A new advertising campaign from the UK shifts the focus onto abusive behavior in relationships and is aimed at helping teens understand what constitutes rape.
The UK Home Office’s “This Is ABUSE” campaign, targeted at teen rape prevention, is geared toward teens between the ages of 13-18.
One video ad shows a teenage boy watching himself from behind a glass pane as he and a teenage girl enter a bedroom while at a party. The two start kissing, but the boy doesn’t stop making advances, even when the girl tells him she’s not comfortable and tries to stop him.
The boy behind the glass—presumably meant to be his conscious or retrospective self—pounds on the glass and tells himself to stop, but the couple can’t hear him.
The ad ends with the slogan: “If you saw yourself, would you see rape?”
On the campaign’s website, organizers have made information available for teens who think they may have been abused or raped, as well as for teens who think they may be abusing their partners.
The website features a section called “Am I abusive?” which includes descriptions of typical patterns of abuse, like “getting angry or jealous when they want to spend time with their friends.” The campaign also works to shift the focus onto recognizing signs of abusive patterns before a teen becomes physically abusive in a relationship:
You may not even realise you've done it, but if you recognise the signs now you can stop yourself turning into someone you don't want to be.
But this ad campaign, unlike a lot of others on rape prevention, puts the focus on the boy in the situation—not the girl. The TV shorts are clear that it’s not the girl’s responsibility to keep from being raped—it’s a boy’s responsibility.
The makers of the ad say the campaign is intended to ensure that teenagers see abusive sexual behavior as rape and as a crime—not just as something that happens.
This is especially important because new research from the UK’s National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children shows that one-third of teenage girls and 16 percent of teenage boys have experienced sexual violence from a partner without realizing they experienced a sexual assault. The group also found that 66 percent of sexual abuse against British teens was perpetrated by people under 18 and that many of these victims did not report it because they didn’t know if what had occurred was rape.
Britain’s Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg says the campaign’s goal is to show teens that rapists aren’t only strangers:
We want to bring this issue out into the open and get young people talking about the importance of consent. The campaign will give teenagers the facts and support they need to recognise abuse and form healthy relationships.
The campaign will air during popular teen shows like Skins as well as in movie theatres and online.
Of course, this issue isn’t only a British problem.
According to the National Center for Victims of Crime, 1 in 4 girls and 1 in 6 boys in the United States have suffered an episode of sexual abuse before they turned 18. The Palo Alto Medical Foundation found that at least 70 percent of rape victims in the United States know their attackers.
Dahlia Grossman-Heinze is a reporter-blogger for Campus Progress. Follow her on Twitter @salvadordahlia.