Hide and Seek

  • In a family home, 90% of domestic abuse happens in the presence of children
  • Around 1 in 5 children have been exposed to domestic abuse
  • In 41% of cases of partner abuse there was at least one child under the age of 16 living in the household
  • Of the more than 6,500 survivors of abuse that Refuge supports every day, around 3,500 are children

Domestic abuse is the biggest issue affecting women and children in our society today, affecting one in four women and around 800,000 children every year.  In order to raise awareness on this insidious life and death issue, Refuge has partnered with Picturehouse to run a powerful 60 second short film – called Hide and Seek – across its 25 Picturehouse cinemas nationwide.

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The aim of the short film is to raise awareness of the thousands of women and children who live in daily fear of violence and abuse in their own homes – an issue which still remains poorly understood and hidden behind closed doors today. The short film will air immediately before all 15 Certificate feature films and will bring this issue from the shadows into the public domain. It will also raise awareness of the life-saving and life-changing support Refuge provides.

Support from our patrons

Refuge’s work has attracted some brilliant ambassadors. These include Sir Patrick Stewart OBE, Helen Mirren, Fiona Bruce, Helena Bonham Carter, David Morrissey and Olivia Colman.

Speaking of the Picturehouse Partnership, Bafta and Oscar-winning actor Olivia Colman said: “Picturehouse and Refuge is the perfect partnership to connect huge audiences to important, life-saving matters. Cinema has the most amazing power to illuminate and to create compassion regarding subjects we find difficult to talk about or recognise, or accept as a daily occurrence. Through Picturehouse’s partnership, thousands of people will discover Refuge’s crucial work. And benefit from it. How brilliant.”

Speaking on growing up with domestic abuse as a child, Sir Patrick Stewart OBE said: “We became experts in something children should never, ever have to deal with, which was listening to the argument and judging when the argument would transform into violence. At those moments we would go into, we would just try and put our bodies between our mother and father. One of the problems of domestic violence is [the] shame attached to it – or everybody, for the victim and the abuser and the children, too.”

Hide and Seek, the short film

Created by creative agency BBH and directed by Lucy Bridger, ‘Hide and Seek’ highlights domestic abuse witnessed and experienced by children. In the short film, a little boy is seen playing hide and seek, eyes covered and counting. As the film unfolds the viewer hears the sound of shouting in the background. It’s soon evident that the child is not actually playing, but trying to escape his abusive father. Finally, we see him and his mum safe in a refuge, free to play. The film draws attention to wider forms of domestic abuse, beyond the most noted physical violence, to coercive control. It draws into question the emotional and economic control many perpetrators have over their victims and hauntingly shares the frightening, but true reality experienced by so many up and down the country today.

Picturehouse partnership

Picturehouse and Refuge launched the national partnership with Hide and Seek so the immersive power of cinema brings to the big screen the harsh reality of domestic abuse and the profound effect the issue has on women and children, but also the positive and empowering change that support from Refuge can make to their lives. Read more on the partnership.

Alongside the vital awareness the short film will raise, Picturehouse has also set a target of raising £50,000 by Christmas to support Refuge’s financially challenged services. Read more on what’s planned and how you can get involved.

Importance of raising awareness

Children living with violence in the home respond to their circumstances in many different ways. They may feel frightened, insecure and confused. Often, they learn to keep their feelings and fears to themselves – they may feel like the violence in their home life must be kept secret. It’s important to educate the public about this shocking fact – and on how to spot whether they or someone they know may be experiencing abuse.  With support, children can begin to cope with and make sense of what has happened in their families. They can overcome the trauma or witnessing or experiencing violence and go on to live safe, happy lives. Learn more about the effects of domestic violence on children.