The latest spot from the NO MORE campaign will debut during the Super Bowl, one of the most watched programs on television, with an estimated 110 million viewers this year. The program that’s notorious for its humorous commercials, half-time show mishaps, and competitive display of brute force, will shake things up with a little dose of reality this time.
In the middle of the Budweiser Clydesdale puppy and Doritos commercials, a somber spot will be aired. In the opening is the sound of a phone ringing; the camera pans to show a home in disarray from an apparent struggle. Then we hear the audio of a 911 call from a domestic violence victim pretending to order a pizza. The public service commercial will be one of dozens run by NoMore.org this year. More commercials in the lineup, featuring FL players can be seen here. The “Speechless” segment of the campaign highlights the emotional reactions of athletes and other stars when they are asked to talk about domestic and sexual violence. The deep sighs, tears and awkward silent reactions emphasize the message “Domestic violence and sexual assault are hard subjects for everyone to talk about.”
It IS hard to talk about; it’s awkward and painful and too painstakingly real. I watch optimistically as NFL athletes and A-List celebrities promise “no more ignorance,” “no more ignoring the issue.” I can’t help but wonder, is it enough? It won’t be tolerated, but how will it be prevented? How do we ensure that the next generation of girls will never have to witness the vulnerability of their mother, sibling or peer being damaged by the wrath of violence? How do we ensure that these same girls are not the next generation of victims themselves?
Many of the young girls participating in our programs are far too familiar with violence against women; they witness it first-hand and often are victims themselves. Many victims of domestic and sexual violence become trapped in the cycle of abuse because they are dependent on their abuser and they lack a support system that could offer a judgment-free escape.
The World Health Organization lists the following as risk factors for being a victim of domestic and sexual violence:
- Low education
- Witnessing violence between parents
- Exposure to abuse during childhood
- Attitudes accepting violence and gender inequality
Builders in our program have the opportunity to escape their own realities in a safe environment as they gain hands-on experience building and using power tools. Girls at Work hammers down the idea of gender inequality before our builders even have the opportunity to entertain such a concept. Each workshop offers an opportunity to build confidence and unleash the girls’ inner power. Girls leave our builds less vulnerable and with a greater sense of self-worth: That is the greatest defense against a very serious problem.
We can rejoice that the media decides to shed some light on these issues. There is an overwhelming call to end violence against women, but how do we stop it before it begins? This is a mission that requires an infantry, because the reality is that even the $50 million dollars of advertising during one of the most watched programs on television isn’t going to solve the problem. It is wonderful to see organizations coming to the defense of women, but we need to focus on teaching young girls how to defend themselves from their own vulnerability.
If you are among the millions who see this campaign spot this weekend, we ask you to know more. Know more of the staggering statistics of violence against women. Know more about the organizations (like Girls at Work) who are not only taking a stand against violence, but are providing resources and prevention. Know that it will take more than just a conversation to address this painful issue. Know more. No More.
Girls at Work, Inc. is a non-profit organization that offers our services to organizations that work with girls from group homes, low-income families, with incarcerated parents or parents in rehab. (While our focus is at-risk girls we don’t turn anyone away.) We also work to build partnerships with youth organizations that focus on girls at risk. We rely on funding and sponsorships to help subsidize the cost of our program. Please consider donating to our cause!