A student artist has painted black eyes, bruises and blood onto the perfect faces of the iconic dolls.
Sam Humphreys said she wanted to show the difference between how children view the world and its much darker realities.
Her project, It's A Matter Of Trust, has the tagline 'We shouldn't be taught that life is perfect.'
She said: "The dolls are part of a project demonstrating how reality actually is and that life isn’t perfect.
"I was interested in how, when we’re younger, we're led to believe that everything is perfect and how as children we are quite rightly sheltered from the harsh realities of adulthood."
Sam, 41, who is studying a degree in Contemporary Art and Design at the Writtle School of Design in Chelmsford, Essex, used ten dolls for her project.
They range from some showing the iconic toy as bruised to some being sick and others being beaten to death.
Three have been selected for a display at Leicester University called Speaking Out which looks at depictions of violence against women in art.
Sam argues that the only way domestic violence can be stamped out is by teaching children about respect from an early age.
She added: "Using Barbie is a nice way of using a toy that everyone recognises as an imagine of perfection and undercutting that.
"My children have seen it. My youngest is only eight, so I wouldn't tell her anything scary.
"She has seen a picture of the bruised Barbie but she hasn't asked what it’s all about. She could have just fallen over, I don't think it's explicit or shocking.
"If they asked me about it I would tell them, they know that some people in life are not as nice as others, I don’t shield them that much."
A spokeswoman for Mattel, which manufactures Barbie, said: "Barbie is often used by adults to start conversations or leverage a cause in society."
NIA says: "it can be really difficult to see that you’re in an abusive relationship, as women often minimise or excuse what is happening to them or find ways to think it’s their fault. It’s also hard to tell someone else, so don’t wait for your friend to ask you for help. Ask her, let her know that you’re concerned, that you know something is wrong." Rise UK add: "Being direct can help as it takes the responsibility away from the survivor, they will know what you are asking, rather than trying to guess form an ambigious question. 'Are you experiencing abuse?' might also help a survivor feel safe that they can disclose to you; you aren't afraid of what might come out."
NIA suggests: "She needs to know that you’re there for her, that you will support her. Don’t criticise the decisions that she’s made. Remind her that she’s not alone, domestic violence affects one in four women in their lives. "Remind her that it’s not her fault, that she isn’t responsible. Also it isn’t her responsibility to make him change or make him stop." Rise adds: "Believe the person, don't say 'Really? They seem so nice.' Say things like 'I believe you' 'this isn't your fault.' Don't say 'why didn't you say something sooner' as that is blaming a 'victim.' It doesn't matter when they tell, just that they do. Say things like 'I am pleased you've told me.'"
Women's Aid says: "Tell her that no one deserves to be threatened or beaten, despite what her abuser has told her. Nothing she does or says justifies the abuser's behaviour."
Women's Aid says: "Acknowledge that it takes strength to talk to someone about experiencing abuse. Give her time to talk, but don't push her to talk if she doesn't want to. "Acknowledge that she is in a frightening and difficult situation."
Don’t be afraid to broach difficult questions. Is she safe? Is she afraid? Two women a week are killed in the UK. Domestic violence is serious.
If you know her partner, don’t collude. Don’t make excuses for him, don’t agree with his excuses. Tell him that he, not she is responsible for his actins. If he genuinely wants to change, help is available, advise him to look up an organisation called 'Respect'.
"If you witness a violent incident, call the police," say NIA. Rise adds: "Be aware that doing things; preparing to leave or reporting to the police (etc) can increase risk to survivor and consider how that can be managed; make plans together, have a code word, inform the police, and contact local specialist services."
Rise says: "Ask the survivor what they want to happen or do about the situation, putting them in control. A friend or relative may want to jump in and 'fix' things, which is disempowering. Be aware that the situation probably cannot be resolved quickly, but support is available whilst decisions are made." NIA adds: "Check that she knows where she can get help. Give her the National Domestic Violence Helpline number (0808 2000 247). Also, Women’s Aid have an excellent confidential survivors forum, sharing what is happening with other women in abusive relationships can make a huge difference. You can find out where help is available locally from Women’s Aid and Rape Crisis’s websites."
Finally, don’t give up on her if she doesn’t tell you the first time you ask, or if she doesn’t leave or returns to a violence relationship. Abusers break down our self-confidence. Women often make several attempt to leave a violent and abusive relationship before they make the final break. She isn’t being weak, she being strong and brave and trying to escape. You might be her lifeline.
"Don't tell her to leave the relationship if she isn’t ready. That's her decision," say Women's Aid.
Ask if she has suffered physical harm. If so, offer to go with her to a hospital or GP.
For more information, advice and support about domestic abuse, visit Refuge 0808 2000 247