About the Weapon of Choice Project

Hurtful words and verbal abuse can cause the victim to suffer significant emotional damage that can be long-lasting. With the Weapon of Choice Project, photographer Richard Johnson wanted to create a visual representation of these invisible injuries. Professional make-up artists donated their time and expertise to apply make up to the volunteer participants, to simulate a painful injury of the hurtful word that impacted them the most.

When these insults appeared to be scratched, burned, carved, and beaten on the participants, they took on a greater significance. The insults were no longer just words on a list, they had been transformed into powerful weapons, used to hurt their victims.

Before taking part, the participants were made fully aware of the aims of the project, and very bravely agreed to share their personal experiences. Children under the age of 18 who participated were accompanied by a legal guardian. Without the participants, this project would not have been possible, their strength is truly inspiring.


Spreading Awareness of the Effects of Verbal Abuse

Although not exclusively about bullying, it was clear during the creation of the campaign, how profoundly many of the children taken part, had been affected by bullying. Their stories and experience truly moved the crew, making them question their own attitudes to insults and verbal abuse. But, the importance of the project became acutely apparent, when the parents heard their children's experiences in their own words. No parent should have to witness their child in such distress, just as no child should have to feel such distress at the hands of another person.

Some of the insults chosen are extremely harsh and may be difficult to look at, but the point remains that if it is difficult for you to look at, imagine how the victim feels, having it hurled at them on a daily basis. The word 'slut' came up a lot in the personal experiences of teenage girls and women, as they were more likely to be victims of verbal abuse with sexual overtones. Their abuser aims to demean them and put a stain on their reputation, perhaps to make them too beaten down when it comes to further abuse. Evidence has suggested that victims of sexually-themed verbal abuse, are more likely to be the victim of physical sexual abuse, including revenge porn and sexual exploitation. Women and teens experiencing verbal abuse of the 'slut' nature may be vulnerable, and at risk, so if you witness it, don't be complicit and do nothing, offer your help and support.

The campaign was made with the intention of going viral. The more it is shared, the further the message will spread, and more people may think twice before they say something to intentionally hurt someone else. The emotional injury cause by an insult, may take much longer to heal than a bruise or scratch. If you do share the images, credit Richard Johnson and the Weapon of Choice Project.

Hurtwords.com is not the official website of the Weapon of Choice Project, but we fully support it, believing it to be a great campaign, spreading a message that needs more attention and awareness.