I know a lot of us didn’t watch the Super Bowl this year (unless we were knitting). But the public service ad by NO MORE is a must-see for all of us dedicated to the prevention and cure of domestic violence. The ad was so impactful. The NFL finally did something to increase awareness of domestic violence, and repair its image damaged both by instances of abuse among its own players and its own inconsistent responses.
Ray Rice, star running back for the Baltimore Ravens, dragged his unconscious then-fiance, now wife, from an elevator. The video of this event appeared all over the national news, much to our horror. At first, the league suspended Rice from a few games, but once the video from inside the elevator became public (it showed Rice punching Janay and knocking her out), the league suspended him from the game for life (now reversed).
Adrian Petersen, star running back for the Minnesota Vikings, was suspended for the season for beating his son with a switch.
When Arizona Cardinals star running back Jonathan Dwyer was indicted for aggravated assault stemming from two arguments with his wife, his team deactivated him. This meant he missed playing for the rest of the season.
The San Francisco 49ers released Ray McDonald, their defensive end, due to allegations of sexual assault.
Domestic violence accounts for 85 of the 713 arrests of NFL players since 2000. That’s a lot of domestic violence!
Since these events, the NFL, to its credit, has tried both to establish a unified response (in terms of punishment) to these crimes, but also to prevent them. One method of prevention was to hire Anna Isaacson, its first (female) Vice President of Social Responsibility. A second method was to support NO MORE, a non-profit organization which aired PSAs during NFL games showing actual NFL players speaking out against domestic violence, saying that they will NO MORE stand by and do nothing when one of their teammates engages in abuse. At the beginning of half-time during this year's Super Bowl, the NFL ran NO MORE's PSA I mentioned at the beginning of this blog. If you didn't see it during the Super Bowl, you can view it now by pasting this link into your browser: http://nomore.org/no-more-official-super-bowl-ad/
In this PSA, we don't see any actual domestic violence; we hear a woman calling 911 pretending to order a pizza. At first the emergency dispatcher thinks she has made a mistake, but when she asks "How soon can you get here?" he understands that he is dealing with a domestic violence incident. She ends the conversation saying, "See you soon" as the camera continues panning the scene, showing a nice home, with a dented wall, broken glass, and other evidence of violence. It is clear that this is not her first experience with abuse.
Think about it. Statistics show that one in four women experience intimate partner domestic violence in their lives; domestic violence during pregnancy is the major cause of birth defects; boys who watch abuse in their childhood frequently grow up to become abusers themselves; domestic violence occurs in every socio-economic category, in every religious and ethnic group, and every educational level.
What can we do? We must spread the word about the prevalence of domestic violence. Remember, if you are in a room with 8 other women, it is likely that two of them have been victims at some time or other. We must speak out so that the shame and isolation usually associated with domestic violence become things of the past. We must support victims and their children who seek the protection of shelters. We must support NO MORE. http://nomore.org/about/
Finally, and you know it always comes down to this for me, we must continue to make comfort scarves. Even though comfort scarves seem like such a small thing in the big picture of helping domestic violence victims, they play an important role in helping the woman decide to take control of her own life.
Thanks in advance for what you personally do to support abused women having a better life.