What if verbal abuse left the same scars as physical abuse? Would it be taken more seriously? That’s what photographer Richard Johnson hopes to accomplish with his new photo project, “Weapons of Choice.”
The series uses a makeup artist to put bruises and scars on photo subjects. Embedded in these violent marks are some hateful words typically associated with abuse, such as “Stupid,” “Dumb,” “Trash” and others that are much, much worse.
“I think the overall goal [of Weapons of Choice], in my view, would be to shine a light on the fact that, when we’re focusing on bullying as a society, we focus on actual physical abuse,” Johnson said in a phone interview with The Huffington Post. “It gets a lot of attention when a father abuses his son, daughter or wife, but I think the issue goes back deeper. Before they actually choose to put their hands on someone, there’s more verbal abuse leading up to it.”
Johnson says that verbal abuse among peers is a problem in our society, but that, based on his own personal experience, verbal abuse from authority figures or parents is an underrepresented problem on which he wanted to focus.
He also feels there are three people involved in every abuse situation: The abuser, the abused and a witness.
“It’s bigger than me,” he said. “It’s not about photography or the photographer. It’s about a bigger issue that needs to be on people’s minds.”
WARNING: Photos contain images of violence and language that may be disturbing.