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Sticks and Stones Essay

Many can identify a time when an argument turned into a fight. Where words became more than just an expression and turned into a dagger or a fist that intentionally caused someone harm. The problem is we have a hard time relating verbal violence or abuse to physical harm. We see it as just words, not only when we are the aggressor, but also when we are the victims of those words. “62% of teens (age 11-14) who have been in a relationship say they know friends who have been verbally abused (called stupid, worthless, ugly, etc) by a boyfriend/girlfriend” (Pomerleau, 1). A direct quote from safevoices.org, an organization intended to reach out and help victims of both verbal and physical abuse. This means over half of woman are verbally abused while they develop intimate relationships. Leading to self destructing tendencies, the development of low self-esteem, and resorting to increased relationships with men of the same stature. The most dangerous part is that these women do not see verbal abuse as a problem. They have developed a low self-esteem and believe people will think of them as week or ‘emotional’ if they seek refuge. This makes it hard to reach out to these women, since they themselves do not want to believe there is a problem. So help comes through pure circumstance. Where at some time, in some place, something sparks a fuse that this is not normal and they react. Accordingly the only way to help is to put out subtle reminders, giving the illusion that they were the ones to think of it. No one told them what to think, or what to do, or how to do it. No one told them how to behave, or how to dress, and no one told them what friends they should have. No one forced them to do anything they where in control. This time they didn’t have to hide, at least not from themselves. An ad can do a lot of this since it is just a broad statement never meant for just one person. Victims will assume that this is ‘destiny’, that they were meant to see the ad and that this time they will do something. That does not mean that the ad doesn’t have to apply to the same guidelines. If it comes off to strong it can cause doubt and fear, a thing that will keep them hiding in some deep dark corridor within their subconscious mind. A way to approach such an emotional connection is through the art of persuasion. Ancient Greece labeled this art rhetoric, which Aristotle depicted as “The art of finding [seeing] the available means of persuasion” (Peacham, 1). More simply put Merriam-Webster dictionary defines rhetoric as, “the study of writing or speaking as a means of communication or persuasion” (Merriam-Webster, 1). The main elements of which are logos, pathos, ethos, and the lesser-known kairos. Logos is depicted as the message, pathos is related to the audience, ethos is the authors creditability, and karios is simply when and where.


The ad in question is paid for by ‘The Aware Helpline’ and is mainly a picture of a man that is screaming at a fearful woman, while an arm protrudes from the man’s mouth and grips the woman’s face. This incorporates pathos to bring forth a hidden emotion from the targeted audience, in this case woman that suffer from verbal abuse. Karios delivers the message (logos) at a crucial and circumstantial time in their lives while logos provides substantial information for them to receive help. Yet ethos, being the author’s knowledge of rhetoric or their creditability, is used with kairos to give the illusion that they are progressing on their own accord. They create this illusion by placing key components into the ad such as context, layout, and color. Like light filters in play which elaborate specific areas of the production as they happen; pathos, karios, ethos, and logos are used in the ad to draw the audience in on key aspects. Gaining certain responses from the targeted audience.


Within Safe Voice’s ad is a demining and distorted man who seems to be relentlessly screaming at a helpless and pained woman. Pathos is used here to get the shock factor from the audience. An emotional tool that is strong in persuasive messaging since it takes the audience off guard and hits them where it hurts. Logos is then used in two places. First with pathos, where in the visual one will see an arm protruding from the man’s mouth and griping the woman’s face. Pathos ties in with logos because it delivers a message that verbal abuse is equal to physical abuse through the use of a visual analogy or in a metaphoric way that hones in on the audiences emotion. Logos is again used at the bottom of the visual in a much more clear manner. Where it delivers a printed message that one needs to physically read. The message, although, is not as simple as that. Logos is used tediously to pick just the right nouns, adjectives, and verbs so it will come off in a way that helps the audience. As stated earlier the process of helping an emotionally abused person is delicate. So the message comes off lighthearted and to the point. Using words such as advice and support that give the impression of mediocrity. In other words it tells them that by calling the help line they will be making no permanent decisions and they can progress on their own accord.


Kairos is somewhat skipped within the context of the ad but is a key component in the ad’s layout. When we think of kairos we think of time and place. As in where we see the ad and the time in our lives that it makes the most impact. Which are both very important in reaching out to the targeted audience, although it is not that black and white. There is a gray area within kairos that can be illustrated with the layout of a visual. Since both relate to where, you can think of where things are placed within the ad. In this case ‘The Aware Helpline’ places the distorted man just slightly in front of the woman so that the arm is in front of her face. This reaches the eye first and brings a since of importance to the man that reflects his dominance. Bringing emotion back to the forefront, or pathos. Meaning that all these subliminal messages create a way for woman, who are subjected to verbal abuse, to place themselves in the ad. Seeing themselves from an outside point of view and hopefully bringing them some clarity.


The gray style that is used within this ad brings forth the same type of result. Since it is essentially black and white it invites you to ‘color’ it in. As if it were some part of our DNA, the urge to fill in blanks and complete unfinished puzzles is simply human nature. For example, wehn one raeds tihs sneetnce it is unantrlualy claer. Even though the letters between the first and last letter are scrabbled our minds automatically put them in the order we see fit. Just as the audience places themselves in an unfinished visual. Unprecedentedly this is one of the best ways the author of this ad used logos. They urge the audience to fill it in and since they have the emotional background to do so they put themselves into it. Of which brings a much stronger result then if they fully completed the ad, color and all. At the same time the gray style gives the ad a second advantage. It hints at pathos to bring fourth a serious yet mellow tone, through its dullness. If it where brightly colored it would bring a sense of excitement, something that would easily deter an abused audience. Since they themselves feel dull and are sick of ‘excitement.’


Accumulatively ethos is used through each component of the visual to bring forth its main goal, to persuade. Not in the way of politics where you are trying to benefit yourself, but for the greater good. The author has true creditability when he uses pathos, logos, and kairos. The knowledge of a rhetoric messages, or persuasion, is demonstrated throughout the visual. Making its overall goal, which is to reach out to a fragile and delicate audience, seemingly successful. This, although, is through the eyes of a bystander. Using only the tools of deductive reasoning and theoretical research. So as far as the actual audience and their own mentality no one can be positive, although one can imagine. They can imagine themselves as the abused through the visual itself and they can do this without any prior knowledge. That is an accomplishment of its own, without the factor of the audience’s enlightenment.

Works Cited
Henry Peacham. Wikipedia. September 13, 2011. Web. September 14th, 2011.

Merriam-Webster. Version number. Encyclopedia Britannica Company, 2011. Web. September 14th, 2011.

Neil Pomerleau. Safe Voices. Abused Women’s Advocacy Project, 2011. Web. September 14th, 2011.

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