On Sunday, Feb. 1, two teams will hit the football field in Phoenix to play our country’s favorite championship match-up _ the Super Bowl _ and homes around the world will gather around the TV with excitement, anticipation and joy.
Last year, 100 million people watched the spectacle on TV, the biggest audience of the year for a sporting event.
This year, among the plays and touchdowns, the half-time extravaganza and the goofy and absurd Super Bowl commercials, the NFL will release its latest PSA on domestic abuse.
This chilling commercial reenacts a real-life story of a wife calling 911 and cleverly pretends to order a pizza in order to get help after her husband beat her and is still in the room. The 911 dispatch operator quickly realizes the ploy and sends help.
The majority of those 100 million people watching, or at least a percentage of those folks, won’t know first hand the reality of that victim’s life in an abusive relationship, but the commercial may spark an abstract discussion about domestic abuse and its horrors. The commercial will also be beamed into homes where victims are watching with their abusers. I doubt that it will suddenly change the mind of any abuser. Typically, abusers don’t believe that “those” stories apply to them.
For me, watching that commercial on Sunday will bring tears, as it did when I first watched the PSA online. As I watched, my mind took me back to the many times I was beaten and scared and surveyed the aftermath of my husband’s rage. My heart flooded with sadness at the loss and the grief over what could have been for our family _ if only.
Domestic abuse nearly destroyed my family and nearly killed me. I will relive that as I watch that commercial this Sunday with my family.
I hope that our society will continue to focus on this issue. I hope that people, women and men, will realize that our collective tolerance of family violence has perpetuated a problem that has cost so much for us all. I hope that my abuser, who will be at the Super Bowl, will watch it and realize the error of his ways. I hope for a change for the better.
But, the reality won’t likely hit that mark. Instead, maybe this commercial, like the now famous elevator video, will help those 100 million people see how the first step to ending this epidemic is for all of us to stop tolerating it and say No More together. Maybe victims will see that society no longer think its OK and maybe some will leave their dangerous relationship and get themselves and their children out of harms way. That thought makes me feel grateful that the NFL is tackling this issue on Sunday.
I recently had the privilege of witnessing several of my friends and family members stand up publicly against exploitive treatment and violence in my family. It was one of the most moving experiences of my life. One male cousin wrote that no form of abuse is acceptable and won’t be tolerated any more. His words meant the world to me, not more than all the women who spoke up and out against domestic abuse, but I knew that when men tell other men to stop, it means more to them.
I will cry when the commercial is beamed into my livingroom Sunday, but after that, I will smile in the hope that our society is moving in a direction that includes the day the NFL finally used its gigantic spotlight to shine on its own and call for a better collective conscious. That momentum won’t be stopped easily.
We may never completely end abuse in the home, but there will be a day when the consequences of abuse will be great enough to stop the abusers and victims will no longer have to go it alone to find the strength to get out.
Julie Boyd Cole is a mother of two sons, a journalist, writer and business woman. She has written for the Miami Herald, the Fort Lauderdale Sun Sentinel, Yahoo.com, among many publications around the country. Currently, she is the chief executive administrator of a non-profit in North Florida. And Julie is a survivor of domestic violence at the hands of her ex-husband, an NFL sportswriter, and today is an advocate helping other victims sort through the trauma of domestic abuse. Julie also writes for bruisedwoman.com and @bruisedwoman on Twitter about the topic of domestic abuse, co-parenting with an abuser and the emotional damage caused by narcissists and personality disorders.
She can be contacted at [email protected]