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“We need a respectful, mutual listening, free of ideology and predetermined agendas.” Pope Francis, Let us Dream, December 2020

Domestic abuse must not be trivialised, warns Church expert

A Church expert on domestic abuse has warned that the issue must not be trivialised after an advert was cleared following complaints.

The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) recently cleared a television advert for credit score app ClearScore after receiving 35 complaints that it trivialised domestic violence and was likely to trigger negative emotions for those who had been victims.

The advert features a man angrily telling a woman they could afford a deposit on a house if she ate fewer avocados.

The advert showed the man taking an avocado seed out of a recycling box and, appearing to be shaking with rage, saying: “What’s this? We’re saving for a house deposit in London, not splashing the cash on avocado.”

Appearing frightened, the woman replied: “I know, but since using the ClearScore app I’ve been tracking all our finances in one place so, eating an avocado just made sense,” leading the man to calm down.

Nikki Dhillon-Keane, a member of the Church’s Domestic Abuse Working Group, warned that presenting such behaviour as acceptable is very dangerous.

“It is always a cause for concern when domestic abuse of any kind is trivialised,” Ms Dhillon-Keane told The Catholic Universe.

“Economic abuse is a serious kind of domestic abuse and happens frequently in abusive relationships. When abusive behaviours like this are presented as acceptable, it can feed the dangerous myth that only physical violence is abusive,” she added.

Her comments were mirrored by Refuge, a charity providing specialist support for women and children experiencing domestic violence.

The ASA said it consulted with the charity, which advised that economic abuse and coercive behaviour was often achieved by controlling finances, instilling fear and questioning spending.

However, despite this information, the ASA deciding against upholding the complaints, explaining that it believed the woman was “clearly not distressed” by the end of the ad and it thought viewers would view the man’s behaviour as “silly, absurd or over the top”.

Picture: Undated screen grab issued by the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) of an advert for ClearScore, featuring a man angrily telling a woman they could afford a deposit on a house if she ate fewer avocados. The ad has been cleared following complaints it trivialised domestic violence. (ASA/PA).