Raising awareness and challenging attitudes around domestic and sexual abuse

In October 2017, Freshwater was appointed by the Welsh Government’s Violence Against Women, Domestic Abuse and Sexual Violence division to create a series of bilingual integrated campaigns for its ‘Live Fear Free’ initiative.

The aim of each campaign was to increase public awareness and challenge attitudes around sexual and domestic violence across Wales. Two campaigns have been implemented to date. The first, ‘This is Me’, addressed gender norms, inequality and stereotypes as both a cause and consequence of domestic abuse and sexual violence. The second, ‘Don’t be a bystander’, encouraged people to act if they suspected abuse.

Bilingual TV adverts, social media activity, radio campaigns and survivor case studies formed part of the awareness raising strategy during the first two campaigns, delivered through the first year of a three-year period.


in visits to the campaign website over a nine-week period


views of the Don’t be a Bystander social media video in just two weeks


calls to the helpline during the Don’t be a Bystander campaign

Freshwater‘s brief was to devise and implement two initial campaigns, leading to a series of bilingual, multi-media campaigns to raise awareness of violence against women, domestic abuse and sexual violence in Wales. The campaigns aim to challenge peoples’ attitudes and make it clear that Wales will not stand by and accept this behaviour, its causes or consequences.

Over a three-year period, we will continue to develop dedicated integrated campaigns focusing and building on issues and behaviours, with the overarching message that everyone has a right to live fear free from violence against women, domestic abuse and sexual violence.

Freshwater has implemented two campaigns to date. The first, titled ‘This is Me’, addressed gender norms, inequality and stereotypes as both a cause and consequence of domestic abuse and sexual violence, and communicated positive messages that celebrated gender diversity. The second, ‘Don’t be a bystander’, encouraged people to act if they suspected abuse and was aimed at family members, friends and support services. Both campaigns encouraged people to visit the official Live Fear Free website, or call the helpline if they had concerns or needed advice.

To ensure the approach was anchored in insight, we engaged with stakeholders and consulted survivors of domestic abuse and sexual violence. We arranged and facilitated focus groups to test creative ideas and messaging options, as well as inform appropriate channel selection.

We developed a channel strategy for each campaign, which looked at the best platforms to reach audiences across Wales. Both campaigns focused heavily on digital channels and film. We produced engaging copy for all collateral, including TV and radio scripts and designed and managed the production of all assets, including animated GIFs, posters, display banners, social media graphics, a TV advert and a series of 6-sheets.

Freshwater developed distinctive creative identities for each campaign, while using consistent Live Fear Free brand elements. This is Me utilised visuals showing people ‘living fear free’ from gender constraints and norms. We secured teen vlogger, Reuben de Maid, who appeared in the campaign creatives, and were able to reach his combined Instagram and Twitter following of more than 300,000.

Don’t be a bystander told the story from the survivor’s perspective, with actors voicing the words of survivors emotively thanking a person for not standing by and talking about how that helped them.

Traffic to the website increased by 6,042% during the campaign period when compared with a similar time period prior to launch. Media coverage and social media activity succeeded in starting the conversation around gender stereotypes and equality, and Google Display Network adverts were seen more than five million times.

Social media advertising was an extremely effective means of boosting engagement on Facebook and Twitter for Don’t be a bystander, driving further traffic to the website and sparking conversations on how to avoid standing by and accepting domestic abuse and sexual violence. There were 123 interactions with the Live Fear Free team during the campaign period;106 calls, five emails and 12 webchat sessions.

The evaluation of the first two campaigns was used to shape the approach to the third phase, which focuses on raising awareness and understanding of coercive control and to help those experiencing it, and bystanders, to recognise the signs and the behaviour as wrong and abusive.



Welsh Government - Live Fear Free

Related services

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