Richard Johnson: The Weapon of Choice Project in His Own Words

Richard Johnson is a professional photographer and the founder of the Weapon of Choice Project. It was a campaign that was close to his heart, as he himself was the victim of abuse as a child. He wanted to dispel the “sticks and stones” attitude many have towards verbal abuse after “hearing stories about how deeply it affects people.”

With the aid of professional make up artists, and a talented production team, he created a series of arresting images that showed verbal insults as physical injuries. Volunteers were painted by talented make up artists with very real looking wounds, to appear branded, scratched or bruised with the word that hurt them the most. He really believed that his images could reach people and “...more people might take this issue seriously.”

With Weapon of Choice, he wanted a “dramatic visual” to show the harm caused by verbal abuse. It's memorable title was born from the notion that the “choice to render emotional harm rather than physical harm is...a choice.” Verbal abuse is just one of the tools an abuser uses to cause harm to their victim. They hurl insults at their victim with the intention of causing harm.