Domestic violence charity Refuge has launched a feisty new campaign against the beating of women and children using ­specially labelled fruit as its key prop.

In an effort to raise awareness and promote discussion of the taboo subject, Refuge is delivering 150 trays of apples, pears and bananas to offices bearing the label 'Stop the Bruising'.

It is targeting workers at businesses in central London in an attempt to put domestic violence against women and children onto the 'watercooler agenda'.

The labelled fruit is also being stocked by a greengrocer in north London's Muswell Hill. Crescent Fruiterer has relabelled all the fruit it has in stock and will sell it in bags stamped with the slogan, 'It could happen in your street'.

Refuge claims that a woman is attacked every 20 seconds, with the result that two are killed each week by a former or current partner. And it takes an average 35 beatings before the victim will contact the police, according to literature accompanying the fruit. Caroline Parkes, who directed the campaign at advertising agency Craik Jones, said: "We wanted to challenge society's reaction to domestic violence, bringing the issue into normal environments by stealth and forcing people to confront it. Basing the creative around everyday items will help place the message in front of people at the most arresting possible time."

If it proves a success, the campaign, which includes distribution of a make-up concealer called 'Slap', will be rolled out further afield, Parkes added. But Refuge needed a backer to buy and hand out more fruit trays. Approaches to Tesco, Sainsbury's and Morrisons had been rebuffed.

"If it does stop people in their tracks, then so much the better," Parkes said. "We don't think it will put ­people off the fruit itself."