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To see black and blue, Salvation Army uses #TheDress to spread domestic violence awareness

The Salvation Army in South Africa released a public service announcement featuring #TheDress to raise awareness about domestic violence.

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    #TheDress, which went viral due to its color, has now brought attention to domestic violence.
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Why is it so hard to see black and blue?

The South African branch of The Salvation Army posed this question to its Twitter followers in a new ad campaign focused on addressing domestic violence. The ad features a model wearing a gold and white version of #TheDress, an image that went viral last week.

The photo of the blue and black dress gained internet attention when viewers could not determine the true color of the dress. An optical illusion of sorts, it is now drawing attention to domestic violence.

Beneath the photo, the ad says: “The only illusion is if you think it was her choice. One in six women are victims of abuse. Stop abuse against women.”

Megan Gibson of Time said that many brands attempted to capture the viral power of the image, but The Salvation Army successfully uses the image in a powerful way to bring attention to a serious issue.

“By using the meme in its PSA[public service announcement], the Salvation Army has turned a fun and bizarre optical illusion that everyone has seen, into an indictment against a society that routinely turns its back on the many women who suffer from domestic abuse,” Ms. Gibson wrote.

“Make it Happen” is this year’s International Women’s Day theme, which encourages effective action for recognizing women and advancing their rights. While many strides have been made in the last century, activists are quick to point out that there is still a long way to go, especially in terms of violence against women.

“The violence disproportionately faced by women is a tangible concern. A third of women worldwide have experienced physical or sexually intimate partner violence or non-partner sexual violence – and around three million women in the UK suffer rape, domestic violence, trafficking and other violence every year. More often than not, cases of violence against women go unreported,” reported International Business Times.

The Salvation Army is not the only organization drawing attention to the way domestic violence is often ignored in society. In honor of International Women’s Day, which began in 1911 and will be celebrated on March 8, Women’s Aid created an interactive billboard in London that challenges passerby to face the effects of domestic violence.

The billboard features an image of a woman with a bruised face and the command, “Look at me.” Using facial recognition technology, the billboard changes: as more people look at the image, the bruises on the woman’s face slowly fade to illustrate we can all fight against domestic violence by refusing to ignore it and the people it impacts.

“We want to show this International Women’s Day that anyone can ‘Make it Happen,'" said Polly Neate, chief executive of Women’s Aid, to HuffPost UK Lifestyle. “[A]nd everyone can help put a stop to domestic violence, by noticing it, by donating to Women’s Aid, and to making sure their communities don’t tolerate the sexist attitudes that lead to abuse. That’s what we hope to achieve with this advert.”

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