• Kevin Luo

Verbal Abuse: The Weapon of Choice Photo Project

Verbal abuse leads to issues such as anxiety, depression, and PTSD. Accompanied by the rise of social media applications and unregulated public commentary on the internet, the issue has worsened since the beginning of the 21st Century. A recent study in 2020 shows that 36.5% of internet users have been subjected to cyberbullying, while 87% of the sample said they have seen cyberbullying occur online. It is important to note that a large amount of these users are the younger generations who are still mentally developing. Mental abuse is an urgent issue that needs to be addressed as the younger generations are being exposed to the internet at an earlier age.

Raising awareness is exactly what photographer Rich Johnson set out to accomplish with his 2014 project titled "Weapon of Choice".

Photo via Rich Johnson

In his project, Rich Johnson questions if verbal abuse would catch more attention if it was being represented with physical scars and injuries. According to Johnson's observations and personal experience, survivors of abuse usually experience verbal abuse prior to the physical abuse, yet there is much less awareness about verbal and mental abuse. Thus, in his photos, Johnson hired a makeup artist to "paint" bruises on to people's faces that reads words like "Stupid", "Coward", "Slut", and "Worthless" to name a few. In doing so, Johnson hopes to contribute to the cause to help tackle the societal issue. According to the photographer himself, he said "It’s not about photography or the photographer. It’s about a bigger issue that needs to be on people’s minds".

Below are a few more pieces from the Weapon of Choice project.

All photo(s) via Rich Johnson

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