Keira Knightley Domestic Violence PSA Censored

Earlier this month I wrote about a new PSA starring Kiera Knightley that aims to put an end to domestic violence in the UK. At the end of the PSA Knightley is punched so forcefully in the face that she falls to the ground where she is kicked over and over again by her partner.

It is uncomfortable to watch. You find yourself flinching and in shock.  That is what makes the film so effective but now Clearcast, the company that censors ads for British television, has ruled that the PSA is too violent for TV and will not air. The only way it will be suitable for broadcast, they say, is if the final scene where Knightley is being beaten is removed completely.

Ok, this is where the big question mark appears above my head? What? It’s this final scene of the PSA that makes it so powerful. Yes it is violent and scary and awful but that is the reality of domestic violence and it happens every day all over the world. You can’t censor that.

According to Clearcast guidelines: 

“Violence, cruelty and injury are themes which must be handled with great care and only in cases where they can be justified are they likely to be acceptable. These cases are likely to arise in public service messages, newsreel footage, film trailers and some charity advertising. Cartoon, theatrical and slapstick treatments may also be acceptable if they are clearly divorced from reality. However care must be taken not to give young viewers the impression that copying such violence would be safe or harmless fun.” (emphasis mine)

How is this not an instance where the violence depicted can be justified? It is not being represented for entertainment value or amusement. It is being depicted to raise awareness of the harsh reality of domestic violence. And what’s more is that this violence is not only “clearly divorced from reality” – it represents reality and is being shown in an effort to put an end to this type of violence. 

So, let me ask you, is Clearcast being fair in its censorship of this PSA?

Photo originally from


Gillian K.
Gillian K8 years ago

Its absolute hypocrisy, when you consider some of the violent and sexual nature that gets by the censors. Can't we start a petition on this?

Mariana B.
Mariana B8 years ago

There are plenty of other things that should be censored and are not. Educational materials on domestic violence should not be censored. People need to become aware of domestic violence and abusive relationships. The more they become informed, the less likely they will suffer in the hands of an abuser.

Kirsten G.
Kirsten G8 years ago

I don't see the problem; I didn't think it was that violent. It's the truth.

I've seen plenty of more violent commercials that were pointless; those commercials were the ones advocating physical aggressiveness.

Deborah H.
Deborah H8 years ago

...but in Britain they will put a near nude woman in their newspapers to feed the male need for T&A, even when getting caught up on world events. Google "The Sun" and you'll get a whole site dedicated to these "Super Babes". Yep, we can throw them, naked and writhing in heat for your pleasure while riding the bus to work, but we won't let you see the OTHER SIDE of the SAME oppression 'cause that just isn't sexy (at least for most men). Perhaps if Kiera had done that scene half nude they wouldn't have been so offensive, hell - they might have even put a still shot of it on page 3 of their newspaper.

Helen T.
Helen T8 years ago

A restraining order is worthless. I had one on my ex, and he violated it repeatedly, and the police wouldn't even go talk to him, let alone arrest him. He kicked a dent in my car and my mother's car, stood outside my building sucking on a bottle of Jim Beam and watching the door, left notes, tried to get me to come over and visit the dogs I was forced to leave behind... and the police did NOTHING.

Until we start enforcing DV laws and stalking laws, and make DV socialliy unacceptable, it will continue.

Artisina Storm
Artisina S8 years ago

I am so sad that this was censored. Its exactly the kind of PSA that needs to be shown. I was also a battered woman and people just don't want to face the fact that it does happen and it is happening more and more, not less. People have to take personal responsibility for things like this and that means putting it in peoples faces, whether they want to see it or not. Sure they can turn it off if they want to and pretend it doesn't exist, but to censor it just proves that Clearcast is in favor of violence against women. If they weren't, they would air this PSA. They have just let down and kicked in the face, every woman out there who is battered or will be battered. I wish they would man up and do the right thing. This is something that can no longer be ignored. Clearcast, are you listening?

Olivia A.
Past Member 8 years ago

First off, there are tons of TV channels to choose from- if you don't want to watch it, you don't have to. Second, parental controls enable parents to protect children if they wish from violent images. Third, censorship is kinda illegal ...but shh, b/c that's a well-kept secret.

This a great resource: The Macho Paradox by Jackson Katz. Katz is an expert, and yes, a former football player working to prevent domestic violence. Statistically, a significant number of women are abused compared to men abused; that doesn't mean that males aren't abused (just look at those altar boys...) but women have the added stigma perpetrated by the media, society at large and by many males: the idea that women are weak, are sex objects, want to be dominated. In some ways, it's harder for a male to criticize his peer for hurting a woman than it is for a woman to tell someone that she's being abused.

The main thing that victimized women must know is that they are not alone, that there are other who are hurting and there are others who can help. The whole point of PSAs is that they give info to people who might otherwise not get that info. Hey, TV channels air boxing fights and wrestling matches- isn't that pure beating-another-person-to-death violence? I'd censor that before I'd censor a PSA.

Matt D.
Matthew D8 years ago

It is ridiculous to censor a PSA which serves to educate society about REAL violence. The truth can sometimes be too tough to handle, yet it remains the truth. If society is bothered by the violence in a PSA ...good.
They should be disturbed by it. That's the point of the PSA's message.
Mission accomplished.
Sometimes seeing something leaves a bigger impact on people than just hearing about it. This is one of those times.

Crystal M.
Crystal M8 years ago

try getting a restraining order thats what the cops tell u to do & it s a piece of paper that means nothing untill ur dead or so beaten then they mite arrest him if they even try 2 find him (waste of time 4 the male cops)(most of them beat their own wives)then he gets out of jail & the cops say oops we 4got to tell u hes out- too late he gets u again!!

Ronald T.
Ronald T8 years ago

I can't believe that we or any one would hide the "picture" of violence against women. Our children must learn that this violence is indefensible. Funny, Muslims will show pictures of injured children when Israel does it (so they say) but not of the violence they do to their woman. No, they are not alone in violence to women but they are leaders of the pack.