“Who’s the one that got away for you?”
When a partner in a romantic relationship is controlling and possessive, it’s not charming or normal – it’s abuse. And because you can’t see the abuse, (black eyes and bruises) victims often find it very hard to leave. That’s the message behind a new powerful PSA that captures subtle forms of emotional abuse.
Three men in the ad were asked, “Who’s the one that got away for you?” Initially, their answers are sweet and they sound like guys simply lamenting over lost love and heart ache. You almost feel bad for the poor chaps.
“I miss her smile. I miss her friendship,” says one guy.
“When we broke up, my world got thrown,” says another.
“I couldn’t eat, couldn’t sleep,” admits the third.
Partway through the ad you notice the shift to a darker side. You should not feel bad for these guys, and why their partners left them becomes very apparent. Make sure you watch the video to the end.
“She was dramatic, so it always was really difficult sometimes to talk to her,” said one guy.
“I’d call and call and call and call and call and call,” another admitted.
“You know, she’s my girl … she’s not going to be with anyone else,” another guy said.
The PSA created by Canadian ad agency, Union, was made for Interval House, which is Canada’s first shelter for abused women and children. It was fittingly published on Valentine’s Day to show how subtle possessiveness is not charming or chivalrous, it’s actually a sign of abuse.
Interval House’s communications associate Rachel Ramkaran, told The Huffington Post, that they wanted to debunk the myth that being controlling is cute and loving.
“We wanted to highlight possessiveness and control and the subtlety of that,” she said. “Possessiveness isn’t romantic, it’s controlling and that emotional control is a form of abuse. And it may be subtle to people on the outside but you can see the signs of it, as you do throughout the video.”
According to the PSA creators, the statistic that it takes up to five attempts for a woman to leave her abuser, was the inspiration behind the video. Many women do go back to their abusers for a plethora of reasons, most of it is rooted in fear, according to the Delaware Coalition Against Domestic Violence (DCAD). The ‘why’ is often the most complicated and perplexing concept for people who’ve never experienced abuse, to understand. It’s a question staff members at Interval House get a lot.
“Usually a relationship starts out really lovely and charming and then a woman hangs on to the memory of that once it does become an abusive situation, and she thinks that she can help her partner get back to the person that they were before. When, in fact, usually that’s not the person that they really were ― it tends to be a ruse and once the relationship gets close enough the exercise of control happens.”
The other really poignant and powerful part of this PSA is how well it highlights emotional abuse. In our society, most often abusers are portrayed as married men who are overtly violent and slightly mad looking. What this PSA does so well is capture the reality that abusers can be partners, not necessarily spouses. They also don’t have to dole out bruises, black eyes, and physical scars to be considered an abuser. Using manipulation, silent treatments, gas-lighting, control tactics, and exhibiting extreme jealousy are all forms of abuse.
“Often people have this caricature in mind of what an abuser looks like or acts like and this video highlights that that is not actually the case,” Ramkaran said. “Abusers can be anybody and that they often are very high-functioning and good at blending in to society.”
Need help? In the U.S., call 1-800-799-SAFE (7233) for the National Domestic Violence Hotline or visit the National Sexual Assault Online Hotline operated by RAINN. For more resources, visit the National Sexual Violence Resource Center’s website.