A New Super Bowl Ad Premieres about a Friend Who May Need Help. Know When. Know How.

This Sunday, the NFL will dedicate commercial time during the Super Bowl to air a PSA about domestic violence and sexual assault—the second time in history.

The Super Bowl 50 NO MORE ad highlights that recognizing the signs of abuse can potentially help someone. What’s deeply moving to me is that it demonstrates how starting a conversation that might help change—or even save—someone’s life begins with each of us. And it can be as simple as a text.

See it for yourself:

A simple question—“are you OK?”—can have an enormous impact.

Those of us watching the PSA are asked to text NO MORE to 94543 to learn more about the signs of abuse and how to help someone. That’s 120 million viewers on Sunday who can watch, text and get the tools and the confidence to step up and lend a hand.

The ad, created by Grey New York, also touches on something else important: that violence and abuse isn’t solely physical. Domestic violence encompasses sexual, emotional, economic and psychological abuse—all rooted in power and control. And it can be exercised in so many ways: putting a partner down, controlling the finances, constant criticism, intimidation, physical violence and like we see in the ad, through isolation (among many others).

Friends and family members of a person who is trapped in an abusive relationship may not recognize these signs. We could dismiss the behaviors by labeling the abuser as being “jealous,” “moody,” “possessive” or  “having a temper.” But understanding that abuse doesn’t start or end with physical violence—that it’s part of a pattern of power and control that perpetrators use a variety of tactics to maintain—might be the first step towards being there for a loved one who might have been waiting for someone in their life to ask if they’re ok, if they need help.

To start the conversation and support a family member or friend, you don’t need to be an expert, I promise. Here are some things I always find helpful to keep in mind:

  • Don't be afraid to let someone know that you’re concerned for their safety.
  • Listen without judgment and believe them.
  • Acknowledge what is probably a very difficult and scary situation.
  • Let your friend or family member know that the abuse is not their fault.
  • Reassure them they’re not alone and that help and support are out there.
  • Encourage them to talk to people who can provide help and guidance, like a local domestic violence agency that provides counseling or support groups, or the National Domestic Violence Hotline. Offer to go along for moral support if they have to go to the police, to court or see a lawyer.

And finally, although it may difficult, let the person make his or her own decisions. Deciding to leave the abusive relationship is not our decision to make; it is theirs. The best we can do is listen without judgment, to believe and to be there—in whatever way feels right to each of us.

For more information and resources:

Most of us won’t find ourselves sending a text like this on Sunday. But tomorrow, a week from now, a month—a year from now, we might. Most of us—60 percent—know someone who has been a victim of domestic violence or sexual assault. But sadly, research has shown the majority of women who have experienced domestic violence and told someone about it say that no one helped them. We have to change this. I’m inspired that during the Super Bowl, millions of people will see how simple—and meaningful—it is to take the first step to help someone. 

So send that text—NO MORE to 94543. Explore our website. Sign up for Joyful Heart’s updates. Let’s make sure that if and when we find ourselves called upon to be a source of care and support for someone we love, we’re ready.

And I'll close with this: since NO MORE’s inception, one of the primary goals has been to raise visibility and elevate the dialogue around domestic violence and sexual assault so that survivors are met with more compassion and a deeper understanding from our communities. We have been proud to play a lead role in building the NO MORE movement from its beginning, and perhaps most significantly, by producing Joyful Heart's NO MORE PSA campaign. I am deeply grateful to all who have made it possible and inspired by the progress we continue to make together. 

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