NCDV, the National Centre for Domestic Abuse, the community interest company set up to give victims of domestic abuse legal protection from perpetrators, has turned to AI to help both victims and the public face up to the reality of abuse.
Launched 15 years ago as one of NCDV’s most successful awareness-raising initiatives, the shocking “Happy Birthday” information leaflet, showing a battered woman’s face, was sent out to police forces all over England.
The gut-churning message inside was that all that some victims could look forward to for their birthday was a punch.
Police forces had been using thousands of leaflets to spread the word among despairing victims that civil legal help was finally at hand.
“Recently, however,” says NCDV’s chief executive Mark Groves. “We’ve seen sentiment shift. People have been telling us the image was just too graphic. Some police forces have stopped using our original “Happy Birthday” information leaflets because it was putting people off.”
Groves, who, in another phase of his career, developed patent-winning GPS car driving technology, decided he would explore AI for a more era-appropriate image of today’s victims.
He explained: “I would have given to a traditional creative services agency and gone through several design stages – respecting inclusivity – to come close to what he had in mind.
“It would have taken weeks of calendar and management time, a lot of creative energy, and a budget I just didn’t have,” explains Groves.
Instead, Groves used the Art AI platform to create a gender-neutral victim image to be as broadly representative as possible of actual victims’ ages and ethnicity.
“The result, says Groves, stunned me. I was looking at a double image, with one-half female and one-half male – and a powerful appeal.
“I tested the image out on our team and some of our professional counterparts in the police. All of them gave it a massive thumbs up.”
As of today, NCDV is sending out thousands more of its new AI-generated leaflet named “Two Faces” to all 32 police forces in England and dozens of charities, Citizen’s Advice Bureaus, trades unions and other supporters.