Are you being controlled by your partner? What is coercion? Is it acceptable? What can I do?
These are just some of the questions SignHealth hopes to answer in a new hard-hitting short film.
Marie Vickers, manager of SignHealth’s domestic abuse service, DeafHope, explained why they made the film: “Often people do not realise they are being coerced or controlled. They think it’s ‘normal’. For people who know it’s wrong, they often don’t know what they can do.
“At DeafHope we support people who experience all kind of domestic abuse and coercion. People who are being coerced often live a life in fear and can be depressed. They are constantly worrying what their partner will say or do.
“For example, their partner might discourage them from seeing family or friends. Or they may control what money they have. That is coercion and is now illegal.”
Marie added, “The film is very powerful and could be upsetting for some people. But we felt it was important to really show what a coercive relationship can look like. We hope it will make more people understand what is right and wrong, and know that we are here to help.”
The film was written and directed by deaf film-maker Charlie Swinbourne, who recently won an RTS Yorkshire Writers’ award.
Charlie said, “Domestic abuse is an area that affects deaf people just as much as non-deaf people, perhaps more because of the communication barrier, which makes it harder for victims of abuse to access services that can help. This is why DeafHope is so important. With this film I’ve aimed to show different elements of coercion in as visual a way as possible, showing one deaf woman reflecting on her relationship and deciding to take steps to get help. I hope it has a big impact.”
The film was made possible by funding from Wandsworth Council.