Watch The NFL's Haunting Super Bowl PSA Against Domestic Violence

We'll be witnessing a Super Bowl first this weekend. No, not the lion and sharks that halftime performer Katy Perry said will make an appearance during her show (though we're pretty excited for that, too). On Sunday, the NFL will air the first-ever Super Bowl commercial to address domestic violence — a 30-second version of the full-length PSA above, which the NFL has just released through its domestic-violence-awareness organization, NO MORE. The haunting spot pairs audio of a woman calling 911 and pretending to order a pizza with images of a house in ominous disarray — a sleek, clever representation of a woman unable to leave an abusive situation and forced to send for help without her abuser finding out. Aired during America's most-watched sporting event (an audience of 100 million is expected for Super Bowl XLIX), this PSA's reach will be wide.

The creepy vacuity of the video — we don't ever see the perpetrator or the victim in this abusive situation — hits home the point that domestic violence is often invisible. It happens behind closed doors; physical injury is covered with makeup and clothing. The issue goes undiscussed, and there is a stigma that often attaches to the survivors and not the abusers. But, the fact is that domestic violence isn't perpetrated by an Invisible Offscreen Monster (or solely by NFL players) but by our siblings, our children, our friends, our teammates. One in four women and one in seven men will suffer "severe violence" at the hands of an intimate partner. And, while this metric can be harder to measure, nearly half of both women and men have experienced psychological abuse from their partners. It's a problem we need to recognize every day, not just when confronted with a PSA.

The NFL spearheaded its NO MORE campaign last year in response to outrage over how the league has handled the domestic violence crimes of its players, specifically Ray Rice and Adrian Peterson. NO MORE's website states it's "a movement to raise public awareness and engage bystanders around ending domestic violence and sexual assault" — a worthy goal, although the word "bystander" here is telling. As members of a society plagued by hostility toward women, we don't have the luxury of seeing ourselves as bystanders, and it's not just abusers who are responsible for changing their behavior. We are all responsible for stemming aggression where it begins — whether that's pushing for anti-domestic-violence education in local schools or calling out friends who still think that catcalling is an acceptable form of interaction.

That the NFL is airing this ad during the Super Bowl is encouraging (next, we'd love to see NO MORE recognize more explicitly that domestic violence isn't just an issue in heterosexual relationships, but also across the sexuality spectrum). Here's hoping that NO MORE will transcend its status as a PR campaign and act on the awareness it seeks to raise.

Advertisement