Violence Against Women

Phase 1: Describe the Problem

Step 1.1 Write a problem statement.

Violence against women by their domestic partners is recognized as a major international public health problem in both developed and developing countries. Australia, Western Australia, in particular, is no exception.

  • Domestic violence is the most common form of assault in Australia.
  • In a 1996 survey in Australia, 2.6% of women in a relationship reported a violent incident in the 12 months prior to the survey.
  • Since the age of 15, 30% of women had experienced physical violence and 18% had experienced sexual violence from a male.
  • A national survey indicated 42% of women (1.1 million) who had ever been in a relationship reported an incident of violence by a partner. Young women aged 18 - 24 years are at more risk of domestic violence than women from any other age group.
  • Aboriginal people are approximately 45 times more likely to be victimized by domestic violence than non-Aboriginal people. Overall, Aboriginal victims sustain more serious injuries from reported incidents of domestic violence than non-Aboriginal victims.

Gender Considerations: Intimate partner violence also involves female-to-male partner violence and same sex partner violence. However, male-to-female partner violence occurs much more frequently and with far more serious consequences in terms of injury and death. In 1994, Western Australian females were victims in 91.4% of domestic violence cases and males in 8.6%.

Health Costs: Victims of family and domestic violence are at increased risk of injury, and gynecological problems, have twice as many miscarriages, and have higher levels of stress and anxiety, depression, and psychiatric illness. Victims are also more likely to attempt or commit suicide, abuse drugs, have an alcohol problem, and suffer from social isolation.

Family Consequences: Intimate partner violence not only has major consequences for the physical and mental health of the women, but also has major consequences for children and other family members. Children affected by witnessing violence in the home may display nervous and withdrawn behavior, anxiety, adjustment problems, few social interests, poor school performance, bedwetting, restlessness, psychosomatic illness, excessive cruelty to animals, and aggressive language and behavior. The children (who may also be victims of domestic violence) are at higher risk of being a victim or perpetrator in their future relationships.

Economic Costs: The estimated cost of assisting 20 victims of domestic violence in Western Australia in 1989 was more than $1 million. A more recent analysis which includes direct and indirect costs estimated the annual cost of domestic violence to be over $1.5 billion. The study showed that over half the costs ($800 million) are borne by the women themselves; the cost to the Commonwealth and the State Governments is $400 million and the remainder of the cost is to other people such as employers.

Non-Economic Costs: The costs of such violence must include jail time, emergency ward treatments, hospital bed nights, placements for family members who leave their homes, and lives lost in homicides and suicides. There also are enormous costs in terms of children’s lost happiness, as well as the fear that all victims experience.

Psychological Consequences for Violent Men: Violent men rarely attract sympathy. Nevertheless, they frequently suffer psychologically via guilt and remorse, feelings of helplessness, anxiety and depression. They often commit suicide (or murder-suicide).

Step 1.2 List and map the causes of the health problem.

Complex psychological factors on the parts of the perpetrator and the victim contribute to the occurrences and patterns of domestic violence. Many violent men were the victims of violence when young, either directly or via exposure to parental violence. Program planners proposed that lack of support, assistance, and intervention for male perpetrators was an important factor that had been minimally addressed previously.

Step 1.3 Identify potential audiences.

Program planners considered male perpetrators and men at risk for committing domestic violence (ages 15-40) as key groups to target. Secondary audiences would be professional experts and service providers for non-English speaking males and Aboriginal males.

Step 1.4 Identify models of behavior change and best practices.

Planners consulted the Health Belief Model and the Stages of Change Model for conceptual guidance. These models suggested moving the target audiences through the various stages of change, in a phased approach over time, by:

  • Increasing knowledge and awareness
  • Influencing beliefs
  • Changing attitudes
  • Changing and sustaining behavior

Step 1.5 Form your strategy team.

The strategy team included both internal and external partners.

Internal partners:

  • Director of the Domestic Violence Prevention Unit (DVPU) in the Women's Policy Development Office, Government of Western Australia (Campaign Coordinator)
  • Family and Domestic Violence Task Force

External partners:

  • Experts in the fields of: social marketing/behavior change; health promotions; communications; and women's issues
  • Department of Family and Children's Services
  • Service providers, including trained counselors, therapists and social workers.
  • Police departments

There was high-level official support for a comprehensive approach that would reduce domestic violence. The program coordinators sought to work with all relevant stakeholders—both the government and the private sector—in a highly political and sensitive area. The coordinators put in place an intensive statewide consultation process to address these issues.

Step 1.6 Conduct a SWOT analysis.


  • There was significant funding for the program, including formative market research and evaluation
  • The government already had resources and mechanisms in place for coordinating an integrated response to domestic violence across the state (Domestic Violence Prevention Unit)
  • The government was willing to work with contractors with significant expertise in social marketing and the health issue to contribute to the success of the campaign


  • The planners aimed to deal with a difficult social issue with a potentially controversial goal of targeting perpetrators that many might consider in need of criminal action instead of intervention
  • Planners would need to engage a number of stakeholders for buy-in and support of a program to target perpetrators of domestic violence


  • This program would be the first to target violent men.


  • There was a risk that women’s victim support organizations in Western Australia, which is very victim/female-oriented, would not support resources targeting men. It was important for these organizations and their members to understand that the campaign's primary aim was safety for women and children. It was recognized that the sector not only needed to be informed of the unit's intentions very early on, but their knowledge, advice, and support would be sought whenever possible
  • Because the campaign was relying on government funding, changes in government policies/priorities or in the ruling party could lead to a decrease in funding
  • Backlash from men's groups was possible since the campaign did not include female-to-male violence

Phase 2: Conduct Market Research

Step 2.1 Define your research questions.

The program coordinators and research consultants designed questions to gain understanding of:

  • The awareness, knowledge, attitudes, perceptions and behaviors of men in general, with respect to domestic violence
  • The beliefs and attitudes of male perpetrators and men at risk for committing domestic violence and whether it was viable to reach and have an impact on them through mass media advertising

Step 2.2 Develop a market research plan.

Market research plans included conducting a literature search and conducting qualitative research. See the Campaign Research and Evaluation Flowchart.

Qualitative research (focus groups, panel discussions, and in-depth interviews) took place with:

  • male perpetrators of domestic violence and potentially violent men
  • general males aged 15-40 yrs
  • professional experts with direct experience in the domestic violence field such as counselors and social workers, and
  • professional and service providers for non-English speaking males and Aboriginal males

Women were not included in this stage of research.

Step 2.3 Conduct and analyze market research.

A literature search gathered existing information and research regarding violent and potentially violent men.

Donovan Research handled recruiting and asked an expert criminologist from the University of Western Australia’s Crime Research Center to provide advice, assist with planning, and serve as moderator for the perpetrator groups.

General population males: Fifteen focus groups took place with males 15-40 years old, stratified by age and socio-economic status. Nine of the groups took place in Perth and six groups in four regional towns in Western Australia.

  • The researchers recognized that, in recruiting participants, it was important to avoid sensitizing them to the issue of domestic violence, which might have caused them to exclude themselves. To prevent this from happening, potential group participants were told only that the groups would be discussing “some important social issues.”

  • In addition, the researchers introduced the issue of “violence in society” as the topic. This allowed the issue of domestic violence to arise spontaneously in discussion—which it invariably did—allowing the moderator to focus on this area without imposing the topic of domestic violence on the group.

  • The moderator probed men’s general beliefs and attitudes about intimate partner violence (i.e., perceived causes, definitions, awareness of and reaction to previous campaigns, etc). The moderator also attempted to draw out examples of physical or verbal/emotional abuse in participants’ current or previous relationship(s), or in their friends’ and relatives’ relationships.

Perpetrators: Three group discussions, arranged through organizations providing counseling programs, were held with violent men. All participants were in treatment programs, some voluntarily and others court mandated. Their participation in the group discussions was voluntary. Counselors were on hand to debrief the men if issues were raised that needed attention, and a criminologist assisted in planning and moderating the initial groups.

  • Since these men were in counseling programs for various lengths of time, the groups contained a mix of men in various stages of change. The men’s statements allowed the researcher to identify their stage status. They used statements regarding responsibility and blame, whether the violence was ‘deserved’, empathy for the victim, attitude toward the treatment program, etc.

  • Because participants in the perpetrator groups were obviously not "blind" to the topic, a warm-up discussion, common to most focus groups, was unnecessary. Instead, the moderators began by discussing how a marketing campaign could prevent men’s violence against their partners.

Step 2.4 Summarize research results.

Literature search
The literature search found little direct research with perpetrators; thus, this campaign makes an important contribution.

The formative research, with general population males 15-40 years old, and violent and potentially violent men, provided a wealth of information to use in designing a campaign.

Research with all men

  • Most men saw domestic violence as a very important issue that was already on the social agenda. This finding showed the coordinators that increasing awareness of domestic violence should not be a primary campaign objective.
  • The men generally understood what constitutes domestic violence and the general causes of physical violence against a female partner.
  • Participants gave broad support for a media campaign targeting violent and potentially violent men.

The research with perpetrators showed that:

  • The first actual act of physical violence is a critical event, often leading to additional incidents.
  • Many perpetrators are dissatisfied with their behavior and feel guilty and ashamed.
  • Many perpetrators feel that men should not receive all the blame for domestic violence.

In summary: the research identified the need for a prevention focus targeting both violent and potentially violent men. Messages would need to avoid an accusatory or blaming tone because that would cause the target audiences to reject the information.

The research determined that the initial focus of the campaign would be on physical violence (or threats of violence) committed by men against women. It is intended that future phases will address sexual assault and emotional/psychological aspects of domestic violence.

Research on reaction to potential strategies:
Five potential program "themes" were tested with violent and potentially violent men and men in the general community. The themes were developed using information from professionals who provided counseling and treated perpetrators from domestic violence campaigns run in other countries and other parts of Australia.

Criminal Sanctions: a traditional emphasis on legal threats. Participants felt this would not significantly decrease violence and that it was not entirely credible.

Community Intervention: an approach encouraging friends and neighbors to report domestic violence or intervene with the perpetrator or victim. Participants said the theme lacked credibility because they felt other people would be reluctant to get involved.

Social Disapproval: a theme emphasizing shame and embarrassment (i.e., “real men don’t hit women”). Perpetrators doubted the credibility of such an approach

Consequences: a theme based on the impact of the violence on their partner and children. Researchers tested two separate themes relating to consequences.

  • Damage to partner
    • This theme did not resonate with many perpetrators and lacked credibility among men in general who doubted that perpetrators cared about the damage to their partners.
  • Damage to children
    • The effect on their children was a powerful motivator among violent and potentially violent men.
    • Their children's reactions to specific instances of domestic violence had a vivid impact on them.
    • Many participants could relate to their own feelings when they were children; some talked about the impact domestic violence had had on them. As a result, they found this theme relevant whether or not they had children. Men in the general population also accepted this theme.

Help is Available: a theme emphasizing that help is available if the man desires to change. There was broad support for a media campaign to publicize counseling and treatment programs.

In summary, the research found that seeing the damage to children from partner violence was the best motivator for violent (or near-violent) men to accept responsibility for their behavior and seek help to change. This finding was confirmed through three subsequent rounds of testing.

Phase 3: Create Marketing Strategy

Step 3.1 Select your target audience segment(s).

Target Audience Segments

Primary Target Audience

Violent men, or perpetrators; i.e., men who are physically violent against their domestic partners, acknowledge it as a problem, and are not currently in treatment. While these men may not take full responsibility for their behavior, they can be reached.

Secondary Target Audience

The second identified target audience segment were men 15-40 years old "at risk" of committing domestic violence. Potentially violent men were defined as those subjecting their partner to non-physical forms of abuse (e.g., emotional abuse, financial deprivation, social isolation). There is evidence that these non-physical forms of abuse are often precursors to physical abuse.

Influencing Audiences

Those individuals who might encourage the target audience segments to seek assistance, including:

  • victims of partner violence
  • family members and friends
  • professionals with whom the men might come in contact such as • lawyers, doctors and nurses, police officers, counselors and social workers
  • professionals working with migrants and male Aboriginal people other members of the community who could help maintain the issue of domestic violence as a community concern, and help reinforce potentially violent men's decisions not to begin committing domestic violence.

Hard core perpetrators still in a strong state of denial were not part of the target audience for this campaign. Great care had to be taken to ensure that children who witnessed partner violence did not think they needed to act on the campaign messages AND were not traumatized by the campaign messages.

Step 3.2 Define current and desired behaviors for each audience segment.

Violent men:

  • Current behavior: physical violence against a female domestic partner (married, common law or ex)
  • Desired behavior: seek assistance from a credible source to minimize their violent behavior.

Potentially violent men:

  • Current behavior: male-to-female non-physical forms of abuse as described above
  • Desired behavior: seek assistance from a credible source to prevent violent behavior.


  • Current behavior: often keeping silent in the face of domestic violence
  • Desired behavior: encourage violent or potentially violent men they know to seek help from a credible source

Step 3.3 Describe the benefits you will offer.

The benefits offered to the target audience were:

  • keeping their family intact
  • having a positive impact on their children

Step 3.4 Write your behavior change goal(s).

There were a number of behavior change goals.

  • Violent and potentially violent men will call the Helpline for assistance with minimizing their violent behavior, or seek assistance from some credible source.

  • Violent and potentially violent men who call the Helpline for assistance will accept referrals into no-fee, government-funded counseling programs provided primarily by private sector organizations.

  • Victims, family members, friends, and professionals with whom the men might come in contact (e.g., lawyers, doctors, nurses, police officers and counselors) will encourage violent and potential violent men to seek assistance instead of remaining silent in the face of domestic violence.

  • Community members will raise domestic violence as a salient community concern, and show support for men not engaged in violent behavior.

Step 3.5 Select the intervention(s) you will develop for your program.

The campaign strategy to reach and engage the primary target audience—violent and potentially violent men—had three integrally linked elements:

RECOGNITION OF PROBLEM —> "Domestic violence is a problem"

CONSEQUENCES —> "It has negative effects on children"

SOLUTION —> "Specific help is available"

Program coordinators decided not to apply traditional interventions often used in domestic violence cases because they do not usually change the behavior. Traditional interventions include the following.

  • Most programs aimed at reducing abuse were based around the criminal justice system, focusing on the roles of the police and the judiciary. A major goal of the judiciary has been to obtain mandatory treatment programs for offenders, which do not significantly reduce domestic violence.

  • Where public education has been part of these campaigns, they tried to increase the perception that domestic violence is a crime; this also has not significantly reduced domestic violence.

  • These campaigns generally encourage women to report incidents and, where necessary, to leave the family home and to take out civil protection (or ‘restraining’) orders against violent partners. This often is not practical, or is something women are reluctant to do.

  • Jailing violent men and issuing protection orders are necessary components of domestic violence prevention and do decrease some violence. However, they do not—and cannot—remove the women’s fear that the men will reappear at another time or another place, often with tragic consequences.

  • In addition, many women do not want to leave the relationship, nor do they want the men put in jail. They simply want the violence to stop.

Instead, the planners of the Western Australian ‘Freedom From Fear’ campaign aimed to reduce women’s and children’s fear by encouraging violent and potentially violent men to voluntarily attend counseling—or ‘batterer’—programs.

The Marketing Mix: The Four Ps

Product: offering new services

  • Counseling programs delivered by private service providers and subsidized by the government. Prior to this campaign, there were few such programs available and most were attended by men under court orders.

  • A domestic violence helpline, staffed by trained counselors to provide counseling over the phone and to refer violent callers into counseling programs. Prior to this campaign there was no Helpline specifically for perpetrators who voluntarily sought help, nor were counseling programs promoted.

Promotion: communications

Overall, the market research found that a substantial number of violent and potentially violent men could be reached by, and would respond to, a campaign that offered formal assistance.

The research also found that the key to reaching this target audience was to avoid being judgmental; instead, it was critical to focus on the effects of violence on children as the motivator to take action.

As a result of the research findings, the “effect on children” theme was adopted as the key strategy for influencing behavior change.

Both violent and potentially violent men and men in the general community who participated in the research endorsed the theme “help is available. This theme was adopted to support and complement the “effect on children” strategy.

The content of the Helpline advertising was to be clearly non-punitive and to communicate the simple and clear message that help was available to violent—and potentially violent—men.

The communication intervention included:

  • Publications, including self-help booklets providing tips on how to control violence and how to contact service providers
  • Mass media advertising
  • Public relations activities with stakeholders, including women's groups, police, counseling professions and other government departments.
  • Posters and mailings to worksites


Although domestic violence occurs across all income levels, preliminary investigations and service-provider experience suggested that fees for courses and materials could serve as a barrier—or be rationalized as such—for many members of the primary target audience.

As a result, the materials and most counseling programs were provided at no cost to participants who were referred through the Helpline. This pricing strategy was also considered more equitable to ensure that victims of low income perpetrators would not be disadvantaged by their partner’s limited income.

To minimize potential psychological and legal costs, the Helpline assured anonymity and the counselors were trained to deal with shame and embarrassment issues. It is the need for anonymity that required the use of the Helpline as the first point of contact for these men, with mass media advertising creating awareness and motivating contact.


Service providers were located throughout the Metropolitan area and in six regional areas throughout the state. Programs offered schedules that allowed employed males access during non-working hours.

During this phase of the campaign, access to programs (but not to telephone counseling) was geographically limited outside major population centers.

Telephone counseling and the self-help booklets would be especially useful for those not able to access a Counseling Program. The Helpline was staffed by counselors during the night to provide maximal access.

Step 3.6 Write the goal for each intervention.

Helpline counselors sought to engage callers and refer as many qualified callers as possible into free counseling programs where they can obtain help to reduce their violent behavior.

Counseling programs were designed to provide violent and potentially violent men with support and violence reduction/prevention tactics they could engage in.

The communications interventions sought to create and maintain awareness of the Helpline. They also encouraged violent and potentially violent men to take actions to voluntarily call the Helpline and enter counseling programs. This was intended to reduce the effect of violence on their children and to minimize the barrier of potential judicial action against them.

Phase 4: Plan the Interventions

Step 4.1 Select members and assign roles for your planning team.

Strategy team members continued on as planning team members.

Step 4.2 Write specific, measurable objectives for each intervention activity.

Example of short-term delivery and reach objective:

  • After four weeks of the campaign, 30% of the target audience will have been exposed to the media advertisements.

Example of short-term outcome objective:

  • After four weeks of the campaign, 20% of target audience members will report awareness of the available sources of assistance for violent men and methods of accessing them.

Examples of long-term outcome objectives:

  • In five years, increase by 25% the number of violent and potentially violent men who seek assistance and advice from appropriate services.
  • In five years, reduce by 20% the percentage of the adult female population of Western Australia who report experiencing domestic violence perpetrated by a male.

Write the program plan, including timeline and budget, for each intervention. The program plan included the Helpline, telephone counselors and outreach to target audiences. See Campaign Overview Flowchart.

Step 4.3 Write program plan, including timeline and budget, for each intervention.

Timeline information is embedded in the substeps below.

Step 4.3.a Plan new or improved services.

Men’s Domestic Violence Helpline

The Western Australian Department of Family and Children’s Services would provide the Helpline, which would be staffed 24 hours a day, although counseling would be available only after 9:00 am daily. The Helpline was designed to:

  • Offer information about domestic violence
  • Provide telephone counseling by people trained in the field of domestic violence
  • Offer to get violent callers into counseling programs
  • Offer to send—at no cost—educational self-help materials to an address of the caller’s choosing
  • Encourage callers to call again when they need help

Telephone Counselors

The telephone counselors were:

  • Men who had considerable skills training and experience in dealing with violent men.
  • Able to gain the trust of men, listen to their stories, and assess their level of denial and minimization.
  • Able to confront men about violence and encourage them to get into programs.

Callers were referred to counseling programs delivered by private service providers and subsidized by the government. Prior to this campaign, there were few such programs available and most were attended by men under court orders.

Step 4.3.b Develop or adapt a product.

This substep was not part of the strategy.

Step 4.3.c Plan a strategy for policy change.

This substep was not part of the strategy.

Step 4.3.d Plan communication intervention/promotion activities.

Television Commercials
The campaign contained two phases of television commercials, for broadcast beginning in February 2000.

First, the campaign produced three 30-second television commercials, “Nightmare,” “Horror Movie” and “Back Seat,” plus three 15-second versions of those commercials. An additional 15-second commercial was titled “Break the Cycle.” All the commercials were used to create impact and awareness of the campaign messages. They also were designed to lead “at risk” men to call the helpline.

Second, to address the fact that people might tune out the first set of commercials, the campaign developed a second set of advertisements. Two 15-second commercials focused on the effects of domestic violence on the family, especially the children. The other two 15-second commercials communicated the message that help is available.

Newspaper Advertisements
Newspaper ads were used to support and reinforce the television messages and promote the Helpline number. See Hotline Graphic.

The first six 45-second commercials depicted a range of possible conversations between a perpetrator and a Helpline counselor. The goal was to try and reduce the stigma attached to calling a Helpline. An additional four radio ads featured anecdotes about how calling the line had helped men, their partners and children. The radio commercials began in January 2000.

Public Relations
The campaign carried out activities with a number of relevant stakeholders, especially a range of women’s groups, counseling professionals, and government departments. This involved repeated visits to these organizations to update them on campaign developments. Other PR activities included an official campaign media launch, resource displays at public venues, articles in stakeholder newsletters and journals, participation in radio interviews, and press releases as appropriate.

Print materials
The campaign produced a comprehensive set of publications that would support its messages and call to action. These publications and other materials were used to inform stakeholder groups and to provide the primary target audiences, professionals, employers and victims with direct access to information about domestic violence and services that could help them.

Self-help booklets provided tips on how to control violence and how to contact service providers. The self-help booklets were also made available on audio-cassettes for men with literacy difficulties.

Campaign Information Packs containing posters advertising the Helpline and information about the campaign for the appropriate work site professionals—usually the Occupational health and Safety Officer or Human Resources Manager—were mailed to work sites with help from trade unions.

Print materials for this program include:

Various Helpline print materials
Various brochures
He feels it too.
They cry too.

Web site
A newly developed Freedom From Fear campaign Web site ( was designed to improve access to campaign information and publications.

Step 4.4 Pretest, pilot test, and revise as needed.

The campaign asked five advertising agencies to submit preliminary creative concepts for a community education campaign based on the formative research findings. The Domestic Violence Prevention Unit commissioned Donovan Research to pre-test a selection of these creative concepts. See the Campaign Research and Evaluation Flowchart.

Concept Screening

Six concepts based on the findings of the qualitative research were tested in storyboard form with: violent and potentially violent men (the primary target audience); general population males and females; victims; children exposed to domestic violence; and various stakeholder representatives.

A total of 17 focus groups and eight individual interviews were conducted in Perth and country areas. Individual written reaction to the concepts were obtained prior to any group discussion using a modified ADTEST® questionnaire, based on standard advertising pre-test measures (Rossiter & Percy 1997).

In the perpetrator groups, counselors were on hand to assist non-literate men complete the questionnaires and to deal with issues that required attention. The major focus of this stage was on the credibility of the concept message, the realism of the depicted situation, and the capacity of the message to stimulate violent men to think about seeking help to stop their violence.

The concept testing identified three concepts that were considered potentially most effective: “Nightmare,” “Horror movie” and “Back Seat.”

  • “Nightmare”: depicts a child tossing and turning in bed against a shadowy background and sound effects of a man abusing a woman; the ad ends with the caption ‘this child is not having a nightmare, he is living one."
  • “Horror Movie”: two children are watching television against a similar background as above; the caption states that the children are ‘not watching a horror movie, they are living one.’
  • “Back Seat”: a child’s view, from the back seat of a car, of a male verbally abusing a woman in the front seat.

The concepts were developed to animatic stage and then tested to ascertain how well each execution met the overall campaign objects and to provide information on how to improve successful executions.

All three concepts performed acceptably on all the crucial ADTEST® measures, with the diagnostic data suggesting several ways to increase their effectiveness.

Advertisement Testing
Donovan Research ADTESTing® was used to examine message comprehension, credibility, and motivational "call to action" measures. In addition, questions were asked to determine the extent to which there appeared to be an unwarranted attack on all men, and the extent to which they appeared to suggest that the violence depicted was in some way provoked by the women—both undesirable responses.

Researchers conducted a total of 302 interviews in the metropolitan area with 15-40 year-old men, some of whom were defined as "at risk."

The following are selected results combined across all three ads (Donovan Research 1998):

  • All respondents correctly understood the ads’ messages (i.e., impact on children; help is available/call the Helpline).
  • Cognitive response measures indicated high acceptance of the ads’ messages and minimal counter-arguing.
  • 90% stated that the ads made them feel concerned for the children in the animatics.
  • Approximately half thought “a lot” or “somewhat” that the ads suggested that men must take responsibility for their violent behavior.
  • Only 7% thought the ads communicated that “women who get beaten deserve it.”
  • 99% found the ads believable (45% ‘very’; 44% ‘fairly’).
  • Approximately half thought “a lot” or “somewhat” that the ads would make violent men think they should do something about their behavior.
  • There was overwhelming approval for an advertising campaign to encourage violent and potentially violent men to call a Helpline.

Backlash Testing

As the key element of the message strategy was to focus on consequences for children, most of the concepts would portray small children being exposed to domestic violence. It was crucial that children did not misunderstand the ads and think they were being asked to call the Helpline or that they should ask their father to call the Helpline.

In addition, it was critical that the ads, although scheduled to be run only at "adult times," not trigger clinical stress symptoms in children, especially children of victims. Donovan Research engaged a child psychologist to help with the concept testing with children. Groups of children at selected women’s shelters were shown the advertising materials while the child psychologist observed and probed the children’s reactions.

In addition, the ads were tested with migrants and Aboriginal communities to ensure that they were not culturally offensive in any way.

Appropriate modifications were then made to the ads before final production. All finished ads were shown to stakeholders for final approval before going to air.

Step 4.5 Summarize your program plan and review the factors that can affect it.

A combination of strategies would support the campaign, including:

  • statewide mass media advertising, led by televisions ads that would be supported by radio, press, and poster ads
  • media and public relations activities
  • men’s domestic violence Helpline
  • funding of existing and new counseling and behavior change programs for violent and potentially violent men
  • funding of education and support programs for victims and children
  • collaboration with police training and services
  • producing information resources

Factors that could help the campaign succeed included those listed in the SWOT analysis and:

  • Forming partnerships with all appropriate stakeholders, including those who view the program negatively
  • Developing ads that will have a successful “call to action” that will result in violent and potentially violent men seeking help

Factors that could hurt the campaign included those listed in the SWOT analysis and:

  • The campaign would be subject to intense scrutiny because of its departure from traditional approaches and the scarcity of funds in this area
  • Needing to develop effective ads that would motivate violent and potentially violent men to seek help, without causing guilt feelings among the women and children affected by the violence
  • Not conducting follow-up evaluation with men who called the Helpline and, of those called the Helpline, not utilizing the counseling (the campaign’s second phase of the campaign will address this issue)
  • Failing to develop counseling programs in rural centers because the state is geographically extremely large—two times the size of Texas

Step 4.6 Confirm plans with stakeholders.

The campaign kept in touch with stakeholders and got input from them throughout the campaign. Planners engage the stakeholders, got their input, and asked their commitment to support the campaign throughout the implementation and the surveys that would be conducted before, during, and after the program.

Phase 5: Evaluation

Step 5.1 Identify what information needs to be collected.

Research was conducted to examine:

  • the campaign’s reach
  • the messages’ effectiveness
  • the audiences’ awareness of the Men's Domestic Violence Helpline
  • changes in attitudes toward domestic violence

Step 5.2 Select the key evaluation questions.

It was determined that the evaluation should measure the following:

(a) general awareness of, attitudes towards, and professed behaviors relating to domestic violence. That includes the audiences'
  • awareness of domestic violence as an important social issue;
  • whether the audiences saw domestic violence as acceptable under certain circumstances;
  • their inclination to behave in physically or emotionally violent ways
(b) awareness of how to get help, such as knowledge about available support services; awareness of where to telephone for help; 

(c) inclination to advise others to telephone the Helpline;

(d) advertising reach and impact (i.e., awareness of advertising [spontaneous and prompted]; message take-out; attitudes towards the campaign; calls to the helpline, acceptance of referrals to counseling).

Step 5.3 Determine how the information will be gathered.

In the first seven months of the campaign, a three-wave statewide random telephone survey would be conducted. In each wave, approximately 400 males, 18-40 years old, who were in a heterosexual relationship, or intending to be in the future would be interviewed.

Respondents would be selected at random from a selection of lower socioeconomic suburbs within the Perth metropolitan area, and at random within the remainder of Western Australia. The sample would generated by a combination of computer-generated random digit telephone numbers for the country numbers, and a random selection of metropolitan telephone numbers based on pre-selected area codes.

The three surveys would take place:

  • prior to the campaign (N = 359; designated ‘pre’ in the figures and tables), to serve as a baseline;
  • four weeks into the campaign (‘Wave 1’), to assess the initial impact, including advertising reach, so that any deficiencies could be detected and modified
  • seven months into the campaign (‘Wave 2’), to identify any significant changes in awareness of sources of assistance, particularly the Men’s Domestic Violence Helpline. Wave 2 also would identify any early changes in beliefs and attitudes. [However, it was felt that it would be premature at that stage to expect any substantial shifts in long-term beliefs and behaviors in relation to domestic violence.]

Step 5.4 Develop a data analysis and reporting plan.

Standard research techniques would be used to analyze the data and develop a report on the findings. The report would be disseminated to the program managers as well as to all partners/stakeholders. Feedback would be collected from stakeholders and, as appropriate, used to modify the strategies, messages and interventions.

For example, findings from evaluating the first two sets of commercials would be used to identify the timing of a third set of ads and their messages. The evaluation results also would be used in developing Phase 2 of the campaign.

Phase 6: Implement Interventions and Evaluation

Step 6.1 Prepare for launch.

Prior to the launch, the program coordinators:

  • Held briefing sessions with stakeholders, including magistrates, court staff, and service providers.
  • Finalized the advertisements and materials and provided them to distribution channels and stakeholders. Visit to learn more about program materials and evaluation results.
  • Developed media plans and invited reporters to a media event.

Step 6.2 Execute and manage intervention components.

The campaign was launched on August 26, 1998 with a formal media event that was the rollout for various interventions.

The state government funded six new perpetrator and five new victim/children’s counseling programs.

The Men's Domestic Violence Helpline (MDVH) became operational with trained counselors provided a number of services to callers, including:

  • Offering counseling over the phone
  • Attempting to get violent callers into counseling programs ('referrals')
  • Attempting to obtain permission to send them free educational self-help materials to any address the caller selected
  • Encouraging callers to call again when they needed help if they didn’t enroll in a counseling program.

The campaign distributed various materials. Self-help booklets were available on audio-cassettes for men with literacy difficulties. The publications were combined into "Campaign Information Packs" and provided to a variety of individuals and organizations, including worksites.

The campaign implemented extensive public relations activities. They included having campaign representatives make repeated visits to women's groups, police, counseling professionals and other government departments to continually update them on campaign developments. Click below to see a graphic depiction of how the interventions that work to support and reinforce the key campaign messages, and create environments that promote and sustain intentions towards and actual behavior change.

See the Mass Media Umbrella.

Step 6.3 Execute and manage the monitoring and evaluation plans.

The campaign conducted the planned three waves of surveys, with about 400 men participating in each wave. The surveys measured various aspects of the campaign, including program reach, awareness of and calls to the Helpline, and attitude changes. The results and their implications provided guidance for revising the activities.


Program Reach
Awareness of the Men’s Domestic Violence Helpline

When asked the open-ended question “where can violent and potentially violent men go for help?” the proportion of respondents mentioning a telephone Helpline increased significantly, from none before the campaign to 53% in Wave 2. Prompted recognition of specific TV ads was at 70% at Wave 1 and 79% at Wave 2. The figure below shows awareness of any telephone counseling service. By Wave 2, 28% of men could give the helpline name. See Evaluation Results.

Attitudinal Effects

The research showed that a number of positive belief and attitude effects began to emerge.

By Wave 2 of the evaluation, 21% of respondents exposed to the campaign stated that the campaign had “changed the way they thought about domestic violence.” In Wave 2, when asked who suffered most from domestic violence, 58% of all respondents agreed that “domestic violence affects the whole family,” rather than just the children or the woman victim (vs. 21% prior to the campaign and 34% in Wave 1).

The proportion of the total sample agreeing that ‘occasional slapping of their partner’ is never justified increased from 38% before the campaign to 52% in Wave 2.

‘Product Purchase’: Helpline Calls and Referrals to Counseling Services

By late 1999, the Men’s Domestic Violence Helpline had received 3610 calls, 2250 from members of the primary target group, including 1487 men who reported physically abusing their female partner. Of these self-identified perpetrators, just over half agreed to a referral to a service provider. See Number of Calls to Men's Domestic Violence Helpline Table.

The absolute numbers calling the Helpline and being referred to counseling programs were considered sufficient—from both a financial and social cost viewpoint—to justify continuing and extending the campaign.

Conclusions for Phase 1
The interim measures have shown some positive changes in ‘transitory’ beliefs which will hopefully lead to eventual shifts in longer term attitudes and behavior. In addition, a positive change in self-reported behavior could mean

  • real decrease in these behaviours
  • greater reluctance to admit these behaviours, because of a shift in the ‘social norms’ regarding their acceptability

Either of these options would be considered a desirable intermediate outcome for the campaign and point to campaign success.

Step 6.4 Modify intervention activities, as feedback indicates.

Based on the ongoing research, modifications were made to the products and services as needed throughout the first phase of the campaign.

For example, Wave 1 survey results indicated that the “help is available” message was not coming through strongly. As a result, the intervention was modified by holding that message on screen longer in future ads. In addition, a new 15-second ad was made showing a man holding a telephone. Substantial increases in calls in the next two months reflected that the modifications to the ads, based on Wave 1 findings, were effective.

The success of the campaign was helped by:

  • the integration of all aspects of the campaign (price; promotion; people; place; and product);
  • the extensive and sensitive use of research;
  • the use of conceptual frameworks (i.e., stages of change; communication principles in message design); and
  • the formation of partnerships with all relevant stakeholders across the public and private sectors in a highly political and socially sensitive area.

Future Campaign Directions

Phase 2 of the campaign was designed to establish additional distribution channels for counseling services—utilizing lessons learned from the first phase.

There are two major areas of focus:

  • Work sites through Employee Assistance Programs, which could include domestic violence counselors among the list of service providers employees may be directed to
  • Rural/remote areas


Donovan RJ, Paterson D, Francas M. "Targeting Male Perpetrators of Intimate Partner Violence: Western Australia's Freedom From Fear Campaign; 1999.

Gibbons L, Paterson D. “Freedom From Fear Campaign Against Domestic Violence: An Innovative Approach to Reducing Crime;” Paper presented at the Conference Reducing Criminality, July 31 and August 1, 2000

Paterson D, Coordinator Community Education, Domestic Violence Prevention Unit, Women’s Policy Development Office (WA). Freedom From Fear Campaign Against Domestic Violence: Communicating the consequences of domestic violence on children as one method of influencing the beliefs, attitudes and behaviour of violent men; Conference paper,1998.

Donovan RJ, Paterson D, Francas M. Western Australia’s “Freedom from Fear Campaign” Social Marketing Quarterly /Volume 5/No. 3/September 1999.

Donovan RJ, Francas M, Paterson D & Zapelli R. “Formative Research for Mass Media Based Campaigns: Western Australia’s Freedom From Fear Campaign Targeting Male Perpetrators of Intimate Partner Violence”; Health Promotion Journal of Australia; Volume 10, Number 2, 2000; pages 78-83.

Donovan Research: Development of Strategies for a Mass Media Campaign to Facilitate the Reduction and Prevention of Domestic Violence. A Report to Family and Children's Services, 1996.

Family and Domestic Violence Taskforce. It's Not just A Domestic: An Action Plan on Family and Domestic Violence. Western n Australia, 1995.

Australian Bureau of Statistics. Women's Safety Survey. Commonwealth of Australia, 1996.

Heise et al. Sexual coercion and reproductive health: A Focus on Research. New York: The Population Council, 1995.

World Health Organization. Violence Against Women. WHO Consultation: Geneva, 1996.

Ferrante et al. Measuring the Extent of Domestic Violence. Sydney, NSW: Hawkins Press, 1996.

Domestic Violence Information Kit, Department of Community Development, 1989.

Ellery, Fran ed. Costs of Domestic Violence. NSW Domestic Violence Strategic Plan, NSW. Women's Coordination Unit, Sydney, NSW, 1991.