Last night, buried in a jam packed commercial break, came one of the most surprising and powerful ads of the Super Bowl: The NFL’s PSA against domestic violence.
The advertisement starts out with a woman calling 9-1-1 to order a pizza.
A pizza? Is this one of those 911 drunk dials where someone asks for a ride to the bar? No, it’s a woman, who we later realize is trying desperately to call for help, all while sounding to anyone within earshot like she’s calmly ordering dinner.
What makes the ad all the more chilling is the realization that the conversation was real. The transcript of the 911 call had been shared by a quick-thinking dispatcher on Reddit.
“I had a call that started out pretty dumb, but was actually pretty serious,” Reddit user Crux1836 wrote.
WOMAN: “Yeah, I know. Can I have a large with half pepperoni, half mushroom and peppers?”
911: “Ummm… I’m sorry, you know you’ve called 911 right?”
WOMAN: “Yeah, do you know how long it will be?”
911: “OK, Ma’am, is everything OK over there? Do you have an emergency?”
WOMAN: “Yes, I do.”
911: “… And you can’t talk about it because there’s someone in the room with you?” (moment of realization)
WOMAN: “Yes, that’s correct. Do you know how long it will be?”
911: “I have an officer about a mile from your location. Are there any weapons in your house?”
911: “Can you stay on the phone with me?”
WOMAN: “Nope. See you soon, thanks.”
Luckily in this instance the dispatcher realizes what’s going on and sends police. Later he checks the address where he finds out several domestic violence incidents have been documented. When officers get to the house, they find the woman has been beaten by her drunk boyfriend.
“I thought she was pretty clever to use that trick,” the commenter writes. “Definitely one of the most memorable calls.”
Yeah, memorable. Especially if you’re having to outwit your abuser to save your own life.
What’s important about this ad is that it shows us in really stark terms that domestic violence doesn’t always appear the way we expect. Domestic abuse doesn’t always look like Farrah Fawcett and the “The Burning Bed.” Sometimes a woman begging for help sounds like a prank call for pizza. Thank goodness this dispatcher was able to see the situation for something more than a drunken joke.
According to NOMORE.org, the organization that created the ad, 60 percent of us know someone who is being abused by someone in their home. One in three women, and one in four men will experience domestic violence at some point in their lifetime. Would you know if someone you knew and loved needed help?
The ad ends with the tagline “When it’s hard to talk, it’s up to us to listen.” Here’s hoping this ad will help the countless millions in the Super Bowl audience hear things a little differently and see that sometimes people need the most help when they aren’t able to ask. We are our sisters’ keepers. Let’s remember to hear them when they need us most.
More on domestic violence awareness
A year of domestic violence, up close and personal
NBC’s Tamron Hall talks losing her sister to domestic abuse
Potty-Mouth Princesses drop more F-bombs for domestic violence
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