Salvation Army uses 'the dress' to raise domestic abuse awareness

South African Salvation Army 'That Dress' domestic violence campaign, March 6, 2015. (Salvation Army/Rex Features via AP)
South African Salvation Army 'That Dress' domestic violence campaign, March 6, 2015.

A week since "the dress" captivated and confounded the internet, the Salvation Army in South Africa is using the viral phenomenon to raise awareness about domestic violence.

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A new ad campaign features an alarming image of a badly beaten woman wearing a white and gold version of "the dress" -- which went viral over a debate on the true colors of the garment --  and asks, "Why is it so hard to see black and blue?" The subtext on the graphic reads: "The only illusion is if you think it was her choice. One in six women are victims of abuse. Stop abuse against women."

According to The Salvation Army International, the social media reach of the advertisement had "hit more than 16 million people" within a few hours of posting.

"We hope to raise awareness against the atrocity of women abuse," Carin A. Holmes, a spokeswoman for the Salvation Army, told NBC News on Friday.

In particular, Holmes said, the campaign is intended to highlight the charitable organization's partnership with CareHaven, a residential shelter in South Africa specifically for women and children who have been abused or trafficked. 

While many internet sensations tend to get played out over time, The Salvation Army was able to hold on to the attention the color-changing cocktail dress generated and use their platform for good, despite the passage of seven days and countless brands' attempts at using #TheDress as a marketing ploy.