Project DAVE (Domestic Abuse Victim Equality) is run independently by young people in Brixham. The project initially aimed to create a series of posters that raise awareness of domestic abuse victims, regardless of gender or sexual orientation.
The project began in October 2015, during National Domestic Abuse Awareness month, when young people began to recognise posters that were already displayed in the youth club, raising awareness of domestic abuse. These were posters released by Home Office in 2013 and focussed on females being the victims and males being perpetrators of domestic abuse. It was felt by the young people that there was a need to raise awareness beyond this concept and target other victims affected by domestic abuse in a more equitable way so that nobody should suffer in silence.
Over the course of six months, the young people of DAVE explored the different types of domestic abuse, met with victims, and began to plan how the testimonies they’d heard would be portrayed. Over time, plans to create seven individual posters were made, and in February 2016, production began. The images were taken by a young person with the captions being written by all the young people involved in the project, the young people also feature in the images.
The final posters were launched on May 6th 2016 and portray testimonies that the DAVE team have read online or heard personally. The posters not only target female and male victims, but transgender victims also as well as those of all sexual orientation. The seven posters each focus on a different aspect of abuse, whether it be financial, emotional, physical or sexual.
Since its launch in May 2016, Project DAVE has gone from strength to strength. In June 2016, we teamed up with Victim Support Centre in Exeter, whose details are displayed on the posters, so that anyone who accesses them can receive anonymous and professional help, without reporting the crime.
The project also gained recognition from both national and international charities including Mankind Initiative (www.mankind.org.uk), who worked closely with Coronation Street on their storyline involving a male victim of domestic abuse back in 2012/13. Broken Rainbow, a charity for LGBT victims, publicly praised Project DAVE on social media, after the young people took inspiration from an online testimonies. Our biggest surprise was when we were contacted by Black Ribbon, a charity supporting male victims in Australia, who had seen our posters online and wanted to use them. After a few discussions, they are now displayed in youth centres and police stations over in Perth to encourage conversation between young people about healthy relationships.
The images are also displayed in youth centres, GP surgeries, police stations and secondary schools across Torbay, Exeter and Dartmouth. Further to that, the project has been used as a teaching resource in South Devon College in PSHE sessions to spark conversation about healthy relationships. The posters have also been used in Criminology sessions as a stimulus for students coursework where they had to raise awareness of various crimes.
In winter of 2016, the project collaborated with the ‘areyouok?’ campaign to encourage young people between the age of 16-25 to take a survey about how healthy their relationships are. This was achieved through a Facebook pop up, displaying our sexual abuse poster, which directed them to the areyouok? website. The pop up ran for 3 months.
We’ve also had a lot of support from both current victims and survivors, after they’ve approached us in public whilst wearing the DAVE uniform and asked us about the project.
Following the success of the initial phase, the team began working on phase two in May 2017, this involved adapting the scenarios shown in the images into written and performed dialogue. In October 2017, we teamed up with Ocean Youth and produced seven radio adverts which were then launched in February 2018. We are now working on getting these adverts on the right platform, we hope people of all ages will hear them and be inspired to talk about recognising abuse and to speak up.
1 in 3 women and 1 in 6 men fall victim to domestic violence within their lifetime. Unfortunately, it is not something we can ignore. Ask most people if they know a man called Dave, and the average person will. The same can be said for victims of domestic abuse, but we just don’t realise it. We could work with them, be taught by them, even live with them on a daily basis and not even recognise it. Project DAVE aims to change that.
We are very proud of the young people involved in the project. Our youngest member was 13 when we began and the eldest, 16. It is often said that at 15, everyone wants to change the world, but then get to 50 and wonder what happened. The difference is that most 15 year olds think “I’ll change the world when I’m older”, but the young people behind DAVE thought “I’m going to change the world now”! Project DAVE may not change the whole world, but we hope that people will be able to recognise themselves in our posters, and from that, find the courage to speak up. And if they do, then Project DAVE has not changed the whole world, but it has changed the whole world of that person.
We still feel as though certain areas and victims of abuse are viewed as taboo and we want to change that. Nobody should suffer in silence and we aim to shatter stereotypes.