TikTok teenager's video sparks domestic abuse debate

Amber before and after applying make-up to make it look as if her face is covered in bruises Image copyright Amber
Image caption Amber before and after applying make-up to make it look as if her face is covered in bruises.

A teenager is asking people to be alert to the signs of domestic violence with a video she has created on social media.

Sixteen-year-old Amber uses make-up to gradually cover her face to resemble bruises as she lip syncs to the Lily Allen track Not Fair.

The video has been viewed more than 1.7 million times on the video-sharing platform TikTok and has also been liked more than 196,000 times so far.

The A-level student told the BBC that she was motivated to make the video because a family friend had experienced abuse.

She said: "The message of the video is don't ignore the signs of domestic abuse. If you have the slightest concern, bring it up with the person.

"I feel domestic abuse is something that should have more awareness."

'I'm a survivor'

In response, some women have shared their own experiences of domestic abuse. One user posted: "Been here, came out the other side."

And Amber has replied offering support. "I'm sorry this has happened to you," she says. "But it shows how strong you are that you came out the other side."

Another person said she wished she had known the signs of domestic abuse earlier, and one woman warned people to be aware that abusers "tend to hit where it won't be seen".

Amber's creative use of her make-up has been praised for its impact.

A commenter told Amber: "Thank you for doing this. I'm a survivor."

"This is so powerful. I'm going through this with a friend now who always makes excuses and brushes it off," added another viewer.

Image copyright Amber
Image caption Amber's "bruises" gradually increase during the video which she titled "Your friend is trying to convince you the bruises you spotted aren't from her boyfriend".

While other TikTokers have created similar videos, Amber's appears to have produced by far the biggest reaction.

Some of it has been critical, with people debating whether the content is too dark for the platform or too serious an issue for "pretend" videos.

One user posted that domestic abuse "really does happen to people and they don't make TikToks about it".

Amber has responded that the video "is not intended to... bring back memories for survivors".

Indeed, one person who had experienced domestic violence told her that she had "triggered nothing" with the post.

Amber says: "I didn't want people to think the video meant any harm. It has a good message and was not created to gain popularity for myself."


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'Speak up'

According to the Office for National Statistics, an estimated 2.4 million adults aged 16 to 74 years experienced domestic abuse in the year up to March 2019 in England and Wales, including 1.6 million women and 786,000 men.

A man responding to Amber's video said: "Men go through this as well and a lot more should be able to speak up about it."

The Home Office has published advice on how to recognise, report and receive help relating to domestic abuse.


Some early warning signs

  • Becoming a lot more critical of yourself
  • Thinking your partner is right about everything
  • Being scared of how your partner will react to a situation
  • Avoiding speaking to not upset your partner
  • Feeling scared when your partner is angry because you can't predict their behaviour
  • Experiencing pressure to move a relationship further than you want to
  • Feeling like you're walking on eggshells
  • Staying in more and seeing less of family and friends to avoid arguments with your partner.

Source: Victim Support


If you have been affected by the issues raised in this article, help and support can be found at BBC Action Line.