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The NFL domestic violence PSA means women have one less way out

During the Super Bowl, the NFL will be airing a PSA from No More to raise awareness about domestic violence. Most of the controversy has asked if what the NFL is doing is enough, if it’s hypocritical or dismissive of its own poor reactions toward domestic violence. Ray Rice demanded $3 million in a lawsuit after the Ravens terminated his contract following his suspension from the NFL, and it is likely he received most of it in his settlement. A dozen NFL players charged with domestic abuse are still on the field.

The PSA films a home, torn apart, with a voice-over between a 911 dispatcher and a woman who is using the guise of ordering a pizza to convince the dispatcher to send help.

“A large with half pepperoni, half mushroom,” the woman says.

“You know you called 911. This is an emergency line,” the dispatcher replies.

“Do you know how long it will be?”

“OK, ma’am. Is everything OK over there? Do you have an emergency or not?”


The video is harrowing and emotive, the destruction and fear evident. But with 54 percent of Super Bowl viewership being male, I can’t help but think of the women who will see that commercial while sitting next to their abusers and have one less way to ask for help. Whose awareness are we really raising? The guise of ordering takeout — a method that seemed to come from a Reddit thread about 911 dispatchers eight months ago — is one fewer option for women who already have too few safe ways to ask for help.

One in 4 women will experience domestic violence in their lifetime. Even leaving is dangerous — more than 70 percent of domestic violence murders happen after the victim has left. So is the PSA helpful, a step in the right direction? Or is the time for awareness over and the time for action and justice present?

If you need help:

– Call the National Domestic Violence Hotline: 1-800-799-SAFE (7233).

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