Assaulted Women’s Helpline creates a house with no escape

Who: The Assaulted Women’s Helpline, with Giants & Gentlemen for creative and Brave for production, with Timbr, Division Editing, and Boulevard of Dreams and Makers for fabrication.

What: “The House with No Escape,” a new awareness campaign showing how difficult it can be for women to escape an abusive household.

When & Where: The work is in market now, using a combination of online video and wild postings.

Why: One quarter of Canadian women have experienced domestic abuse, with the Assaulted Women’s Helping saying that calls have increased 86% in the past year. One of the most common responses from people hearing about cases of domestic abuse is “Why doesn’t she just leave?”

But Yvonne Harding, manager of resource development for Assaulted Women’s Helpline, said it’s not that easy: There are often children in the home, as well as financial repercussions to consider and the fact that many women fear leaving because of what their partner might do.

The goal of the campaign is to create awareness of the resources that Assaulted Women’s Helpline provides for women in abusive relationships, and to create more empathy for women stuck in abusive relationships.

How: The campaign is a literal representation of how abused women can feel trapped in their home. The agency partners took an ordinary suburban home and “bricked off” all of its exits, including the main and second floor windows, the front door and the garage door.

A sign was placed on the front lawn reading “When you live with abuse, there’s no easy way out” accompanied by the Assaulted Women’s Hotline logo and the number for its toll-free hotline. A film crew captured neighbours’ reaction to the house that was turned into a 60-second video that is running across the Assaulted Women’s Helpline’s owned and operated channels, including It is being supported by wild postings.

And we quote: “Domestic abuse is a complex matter, yet many people are ignorant of how the psychology of it plays out for women in those situations,” said Alanna Nathanson, co-founder and chief creative officer with Giants & Gentlemen. “A common attitude really is, well if she’s being abused, why wouldn’t she just get out of that relationship? We wanted to demonstrate that while you may not be physically trapped, it really does feel that way emotionally.”


Chris Powell