Creative in association withGear Seven

JWT London and Ellie Goulding Break the Routine of Domestic Violence in Powerful New Ad

Advertising Agency
London, UK
The ad features a disturbing and intense dance, choreographed by Sid Cherkaoui

With figures showing that, on average, high-risk victims live with domestic abuse for over two years before getting specialist support, a new online film based on a disturbingly captivating and physically intense dance. Choreographed by Sidi Cherkaoui and backed by a haunting music track by Ellie Goulding the film lets victims of domestic abuse know that help and support is available to #breaktheroutine.

Through the disturbingly captivating choreography of Sidi Cherkaoui and heady music by Ellie Goulding, it takes on the difficult task of raising awareness and creating emotions among an audience immune to hard facts and images. 

The film shows the hardships of an abusive relationship through dance. Showing how trapped the woman is – how she feels there is no escape. The dancers, real-life couple Jennifer White and Jason Kittelberger, mimic the savage physicality of domestic abuse in a bare house. As the film ends the man is finally stopped by an invisible barrier and although it is not the end of her struggle, the woman knows she is safe.

Breaking on 13 October and called Break the Routine, the film also aims to demonstrate that domestic abuse isn’t always physical violence. Examples of coercive control, which is also now classed as a criminal offence, include threatening behaviour, humiliation and intimidation, repeatedly making someone feel scared, blackmailing, taking money or controlling finances. 

A live performance of the dance took place on Wednesday 12 October at Regent’s Place - driving awareness of the campaign, and specifically the hashtag #breaktheroutine. Specially trained Victim Support advisors were on hand to give information and support should anyone who needed it.  

The Crime Survey for England and Wales, 2014/15 shows that 1 in 4 women in England and Wales will experience domestic abuse in their lifetimes and that 6.7 million men and women have experienced domestic abuse at some point. 

The National Centre for Domestic Violence and Victim Support hope to garner support against acts of domestic abuse and encourage victims to get help.

The dance was choreographed by Sidi Cherkaoui, an associate artist at Sadler’s Wells, London and a guest artistic director of the National Youth Dance Company. Sidi received much international acclaim for his choreography in Joe Wright’s feature film Anna Karenina.

The film was directed by two-time DGA Director of the Year Noam Murro. Noam has directed some of the world’s greatest commercials and was named one of the 50 most influential people of the last 20 years by Creativity Magazine, and the UK’s #1 director by Campaign Magazine. 

Lucy Hastings, Director at independent charity Victim Support, said: “Domestic abuse isn’t just about physical violence. Emotionally abusive behaviour can be just as traumatising, and thousands of people are affected by this every year. 

“People experiencing abuse can often feel trapped in their situation or that they are to blame for what’s happening, but this is not the case. We offer non-judgemental, free and confidential help and support to anyone affected by abuse, whether or not the police are involved.” 

Mark Groves, Head of Operations at NCDV, said: “Two years is categorically too long for someone to deal with the horrors of domestic abuse. We need to raise awareness of the issue and let victims know there is help and a way out and believe this film does just that in a shockingly captivating way. Through our range of legal services the National Centre for Domestic Violence can help people break this routine of domestic abuse by essentially giving them that way out. 

Sophie, a survivor of domestic abuse, said: “Before him I was so confident, nothing bothered me and I would always stand up for myself. All in all it was four years with some breaks in the middle.”

“I knew it was wrong but I didn’t realise it was actually domestic abuse until after I spoke to my Victim Support Caseworker. She saved my life; I don’t think I could have taken another year of that abuse.”

“The scars will always be there but they don’t rule my life. I’m not afraid anymore, I’ve got my strength back and I’m so proud of myself.”

Russell Ramsey, Executive Creative Director at J. Walter Thompson London, said: “Dance has an inherent emotional intensity, which we’ve used to give impact to a disturbing reality – but also a true offer of hope.”

Sidi Cherkaoui, Choreographer, said: "With Eastman dancers Jason and Jennifer, and Noam's directorial vision, I sought a way to reflect this struggle through dance and movement. It means a lot to me to support these organisations, which try to stop domestic violence by giving victims immediate ways to keep themselves safe.”

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