Supporting Abused Men
Domestic Abuse. Spousal Abuse. Intimate Partner Violence. Battering. Family Violence.
Domestic abuse has many names and faces. It is the most frequent type of violence reported to the police. This crime cuts across race, ethnicity, social status and age. Domestic violence involves battered wives, battered husbands, abused partners, homosexuals, and younger people affected by dating violence and acquaintance rape. Because domestic violence impacts so many people, it is a major social problem that cannot be ignored.
But we know that already.
“Men are domestically abused in roughly the same amount as women are abused by their male partners.”
A reason why this face of violence has never been studied in detail is because many researchers in the field deny that such males exist, or that if they do exist, they believe that the extent to which men are victimized by women does not represent a significant social problem.
Simply watching an hour or two of television will give some idea to how it is so common to see a woman strike a man in jest or in frustration or for whatever reason, more often than we see a man strike a woman. In fact, in our mainstream society, the only time we see a man strike a woman is when a perpetrator or a villain is abusing a woman.
Men refuse to tell or seek help because of the humiliation and embarrassment, considering the society’s traditional values about male-female relationships. They fear that they would be laughed at, humiliated, or reversely accused of being the abuser due to a belief that men are physically capable of fighting back when being challenged.
As a result, the abused men are leading a boxed-up life.
I researched the services available for male victims of domestic violence and looked for service characteristics among male service users in this area. It appears that direct services exclusively designed for male victims of domestic abuse are rarely available.
This perception needs to change.
Even though a few services are being delivered to male victims, information on sufficiency, helpfulness, and utilization of services as well as men’s perception on these existing services is still unreported.
I examined the constraints of male victims to identify factors that block them from seeking help and prevent them from breaking out of their
boxed up lives.
And that’s why Project BlueBox was created.
The main objective of the project is to protect and help male victims of severe domestic abuse from their partners, and revise the system currently in place, that is designed without the abused male’s experiences in mind.
To achieve this, the plan for the project is broken into three parts:
Part 1: Unite and Educate
Introduce Project BlueBox to the community through public media and public service announcements. Execute multiple, strategic campaigns to increase awareness, educate general public and encourage abused men to seek help.
Part 1 of the project execution will begin by introducing Project BlueBox through a campaign called ‘It Stinks’. This campaign is strategically created around two elements – the bins placed in high traffic, passersby areas and car fresheners. By exhibiting facts, numbers and real-life quotes to people, attention can be garnered and it is a good PR opportunity.
These posters reads:
“It stinks, that she pulls knives on me and blames me for everything.”
“It stinks, that she calls my parents and threatens to take me out.”
This campaign is designed to generate curiosity and for people to register the project in their minds.
To bring about awareness, the public media will be effectively utilized, for the next campaign named ‘Stereotype’.
Series of posters were designed, displaying alarming numbers and data. For example, one poster reads:
Kicked 9 times, Scratched 8 times, Raped 6 times. The 23rd time, I fought back.
The posters are intentionally structured to assume the male as the perpetrator and the female as the victim. However, as one reads through, the last line reveals the opposite; that the male is the victim – holding an element of disbelief to it.
Public service announcements will be used for the next camapign ‘Invisible,’ which was inspired by Chinese Artist Liu Bolin’s amazing camouflage artworks.
Volunteers will be carefully painted to blend with the allotted space and the text around them will call the volunteer and the issue out. The volunteers will remain extremely still until an unsuspecting passerby happens to walk past – to be taken aback by the volunteer’s appearance, as he hands out a Project BlueBox information card to them.
To execute multiple strategic campaigns a link with a big brand such as Ikea, a known name in every domestic household will be explored. This campaign will focus on regular household items and ask a simple question. The artwork will be applied on outdoor billboards as well as in internal store marketing, asking the very same question.
The messaging will be simple. That any tool/household item can be a weapon in the hands of a perpetrator. Tags on the products will encourage people to join the ongoing conversation on the website. By designing the campaign in line with Ikea’s design standards – Ikea’s support for abused men and Project BlueBox will be clearly communicated.
While awareness will be handled by the previous campaigns, in order to highlight and shed light on the plight of the abused men, the cities’ real estate will be used as canvas to project the issue.
With genuine and cited quotes being projected, the plight of these men becomes more tangible and real for the community this campaign is aimed at.
Out of the Box
Elevators across the public spaces, such as malls, airports and theaters will carry the modified Stereotype campaign. The elevator doors will open to the messaging on the inside. The same poster will also be displayed on the back of the elevator doors keeping in consideration the traffic blocking the back wall of the elevator.
Multiple support services will be available for the abused men through the website, which will be discussed shortly.
However, the main website for Project BlueBox is designed to explain the project in detail, extend services, and encourage people to come together to stand up for the cause.
Part 2: End the stigma.
Introduce the petition to make mandatory reporting a law. Break stigma by encouraging men to seek help, and provide support to them by establishing a clear message to the society. Encourage public to sign the petition through multiple mediums. Organize events designed to increase petition supporters.
Petition: Make reporting abuse mandatory by law.
Mandatory reporting can not only improve documentation of domestic violence, but it will also send a clear message to the victim and society that domestic violence is a crime and will not be tolerated, and that the batterer will be held accountable. It is a legal remedy to #wipeoutabuse.
The existing stigma exists because of silence. This silence allows the violence to persist, which can only add to the abused man’s embarrassment. Does the increased shame only further his need to remain silent? In the late 90’s, California passed a law making reporting abuse mandatory. But that applied only to the hospitals and the shelter homes. What if each one of us were held responsible by the law to report abuse?
If mandatory reporting had to become a law, would it be a legal remedy for domestic violence, regardless against men or women?
I propose that mandatory reporting can potentially improve documentation of domestic violence or use in criminal prosecution, divorce, child custody, and civil cases. It will also send a clear message to the victim and society that domestic violence is a crime and will not be tolerated, and that the batterer will be held accountable. This proposal is also a legal petition and the following campaigns will encourage people to sign the petition for it to make it to the court of law for a legal ruling.
The first step will be to introduce the petition. The Blue-eyed boy campaign is an extension of the Stereotype campaign. Except now a woman is introduced into the visuals as if she is seductively shushing the man. At the bottom will be the information about the petition and a QR code that will direct viewers to the petition page.
If It Were You
This petition campaign will encourage men to seek help in case of abuse by staging the plight of abused men.
Black and blue wound stickers will be placed strategically in public restrooms to highlight the consequences of domestic violence. This will make one wonder about the condition of the abused men, but also feel responsible to do something about it. The copy will talk about the petition. This campaign idea has the potential to enter social media.
To establish a clear message, a simple manipulation of the male restroom sign will be incorporated. The intention is to show consequences in order to encourage people, especially men, to visit the website and sign the petition.
A clear message to the victims will be communicated through a public installation called Break-Open.
As a guerrilla stunt, a digital man will be ‘trapped’ or ‘held prisoner’ inside a blue box, which will be placed in busy locations such as the airports, subways, bus stations, etc. The trapped man will cry out for help by banging on the window, to dramatize the experience of isolation and stigmatization brought about by abuse. This will be an interactive box, where people passing by can can press the blue button to vote for the petition and a live update of the number of signatures will be displayed on the screen.
Wipe Out Abuse
A clear message to the society will be communicated through an interactive billboard.
Similar to the public installation, passersby will be encouraged to hit the interactive button to vote for the petition. One hit at a time, with more hits and signatures, the gruesome marks on the man’s face will begin to wipe away. The more signatures, the clearer his face.
It will be important for the campaign to reach out to the young and the old with a consistent tone.
This promotion will aim to receive attention in the world of social media.
Project BlueBox photo booths will be installed in strategic places targeting the youth, to educate them about the issue and ask for their support towards the petition. Along with a regular photo strip, a special photoshopped version with wound marks will be available. The interface will provide an option to email this photo to oneself and post it on social media, such as Facebook and Instagram.
Another strong approach in reaching out to the youth will be by having presence across social media platforms such as a Facebook page and a twitter page to provide timely updates about the petition progress, events and associations. Meanwhile, the existing website of Project BlueBox will also be updated with the petition information and an interface to sign for the petition. A live signature meter will be available to keep track of progress.
Lastly, an event designed to increase petition supporters and celebrate existing supporters will be created.
Blue day will be a marathon day to bring together local supporters to run for the cause and get a chance to meet each other. Unlike other marathons, the registration requirements to sign up for this marathon will only be a signature towards the petition.
The streets will be painted with hashtags. The event will be promoted through street art, magazine ads and posters. Collateral such as free rides across the city, t-shirts, coffee rockets, mugs and water bottles will be designed specifically for the event.
Part 3: Provide Continued Support
Establish Internet information-sharing channels for men and a specialized service, designed for men, to minimize resistance or fear.
The last part of the plan will be to provide continued support by building an information sharing channel.
Having established the fact about how reluctant men are to seek protection and speak up about their abuse experiences, it will be important to identify that this reluctance is not only eating them up slowly, but also enough research and studies have not been conducted regarding the issue. There aren’t enough records to justify a law at this time, as the issue is much more deeper than most people believe.
With the blue book of abuse, not only will the website record the incidents but by posting their deep dark secrets here anonymously, men will have the opportunity to take that burden off their shoulders and help themselves psychologically. Silent voices will no longer be silenced, and men will know they are not alone in this.
And finally, a specialized service in the form of an app will be applied to minimize resistance and fear.
Calling for help in the presence of the perpetrator could only aggravate the situation. Can that be achieved discreetly? Perhaps.
Every man is most likely to have a news app on his smartphone. This will be another one of those. The only difference would be that with a couple of taps he can call for help when he is being attacked. The app functions and its code language will be explained while downloading the app from the Project BlueBox website.
To call for help the victim needs to get into the sports section, which will open a regular looking sports page but with an emergency tap button.
Once tapped there will be prompts for location and the nature of emergency will appear in football jargons, just in case the suspecting wife/partner was to check his phone from to time.
Once he hits tackle, a 911 call will be placed by the app. Once the authorities are notified more jargons show up giving the victim an opportunity to cancel help or hurry help.
The app design and interface will change time to time to maintain discreetness.