“Who’s the one that got away for you?”
That’s the question asked in a new PSA to three men. Instantly, each man remembered the “one that got away” and all three began reminiscing. While it sounds like three broken-hearted men, this PSA is about a much darker side of love and relationships.
Created by Canadian ad agency Union, the PSA was published on Valentine’s Day for Interval House, the first shelter for abused women and children in Canada. The haunting video slowly shows how possessiveness can actually be a subtle sign of abuse.
Each actor’s description of “the one that got away” starts out romantic and then becomes more and more controlling. “I miss her smile, I miss her friendship,” one man said, with another adding: “I couldn’t eat, couldn’t sleep” when they broke up.
Then one man said that he’d “call and call and call and call and call and call” the woman all day long; another added: “You know, she’s my girl... she’s not going to be with anyone else.”
As Interval House’s communications associate Rachel Ramkaran explained to The Huffington Post, Interval House wanted to debunk the myth that being controlling and possessive is romantic.
“We wanted to highlight possessiveness and control and the subtlety of that,” she said. “Possessiveness isn’t romantic, it’s controlling and that emotional control is a form of abuse. And it may be subtle to people on the outside but you can see the signs of it, as you do throughout the video.”
Ramkaran said the PSA was inspired by the statistic that on average it takes up to five attempts for a woman to leave her abuser.
“We wanted to highlight the ‘why’ behind that because that’s a question we at Interval House get a lot and that a lot of women leaving abusive situations get a lot: ‘Why did you stay?’” Ramkaran said. “Usually a relationship starts out really lovely and charming and then a woman hangs on to the memory of that once it does become an abusive situation, and she thinks that she can help her partner get back to the person that they were before. When, in fact, usually that’s not the person that they really were ― it tends to be a ruse and once the relationship gets close enough the exercise of control happens.”
Ramkaran said this PSA highlights a different perception of an abusive situation than we’re used to seeing. In pop-culture, abusive relationships are portrayed as overtly violent and more often than not always physical. But this PSA shines a light on emotional abuse, which all too often is not seen as “real” abuse.
“Often people have this caricature in mind of what an abuser looks like or acts like and this video highlights that that is not actually the case,” Ramkaran explained. “Abusers can be anybody and that they often are very high-functioning and good at blending in to society.”
Head over to Interval House to learn more about their work.