We often assume that older married couples are living quiet, comfortable lives behind closed doors but this image of marital bliss can, far too often, be nothing more than a facade.
National domestic abuse charity, Women’s Aid, has launched a powerful campaign to bring attention to this discrepancy of thought.
The charity has found that older women are less likely to seek help for domestic abuse, than younger ones – despite it happening to women of all ages.
Via a harrowing but powerful short film, the campaign hopes to change our perception of older women, and makes the shocking point that one in five women accessing domestic abuse services have been experiencing abuse for over a decade.
The short two-minute film, entitled Do You See Her, was produced by Ridley Scott Associates for Women’s Aid, and stars Anne-Marie Duff (Suffragette), Phil Davis (Whitechapel) and Tessa Peake-Jones (Only Fools and Horses), with a voiceover by Louiza Patikas (The Archers). The film wwas directed by Paul Andrew Williams (Murdered By My Boyfriend).
It shows an older married couple enjoying a lunch with their daughter and grandchildren, who have visited for the day. In a classic, middle-class setting, the family discuss the mundane over a home-cooked meal.
During the meal, the daughter asks: “you alright, mum?” to which the mother replies “I’m fine,” with a smile.
We then see the story unfold again – this time revealing what is really going on behind the perfect couple veneer. Prior to the daughter and her children arriving, we see the father abusing his wife, shouting and hitting her before putting her to bed and kissing her. The woman then covers up her bruise with make-up, before putting on a brave face for the arrival of her daughter – an abusive pattern which has clearly gone on for years.
When she waves goodbye to her daughter at the close of the film, viewers are presented with the disturbing realisation that she feels trapped and imprisoned in her own home.
“The film is a stark reminder that even those closest to a woman who is being abused may not know what goes on behind closed doors,” says Polly Neate, Chief Executive of Women’s Aid.
“Victim stereotypes are simply not relevant to our understanding of domestic abuse. We want to send a clear message to all older women experiencing abuse: Women’s Aid is here for you,” she continues.
Tessa-Peake Jones says: “Older women are often invisible in many spheres of life, and it can be all too easy to not see what is really going on. I want to give these women a voice: to show them that they are not alone, that they deserve help if they are experiencing domestic abuse.”
Director, Paul Andrew Williams says: “Whilst funding is being cut and important organisations are being forced to restrict the help they can offer vulnerable women, now is the time to raise awareness and show that there are people out there, like Women’s Aid who can help.”
The charity is encouraging people to promote the campaign using the hashtag #AnyWoman.
You can watch the full film below.
If you suffer from domestic abuse of any kind, contact Woman’s Aid, here, or by ringing the free National Domestic Violence Helpline on 0808 2000 247