We are still discussing — and still very much thinking about — the domestic abuse public service announcement that aired during the Super Bowl. Sponsored by the nonprofit No More and, incongruously, the NFL, the ad uses an actual 911 call.
The 911 operator is a little confused at first, and so are we: The caller is ordering a pizza. We have the advantage, of course, because the visuals are a room-to-room tour of an apartment or house with various signs of violence. A hole punched in the wall, a broken lamp — finally, the 911 operator gets the message that this woman is in trouble, understands that she cannot talk openly because someone is in the room with her and promises to send a patrol car.
The rest is left to our imagination.
And it’s not hard to imagine the worst. Especially when the Raleigh News & Observer’s headlines are about a woman being stabbed 22 times in a domestic dispute and a Durham cop’s arrest for domestic violence. Especially when the NFL is a sponsor of a domestic violence PSA — if it weren’t such a serious topic, it would be hard to take the PSA seriously. What, are we watching “Saturday Night Live?”
Still, the ad itself went against stereotype and may have been more effective as a result. There was no big, angry man terrorizing a cowering woman. But let’s remember that men are not the only ones accused of domestic violence. Neither are husbands or boyfriends the only assailants. A situation involving Olympic soccer champ Hope Solo is a great example.
Solo was arrested in June 2014 and charged with domestic assault of her sister and her 17-year-old nephew. The charges were dropped because the two had not cooperated in the investigation — an outcome similar to what happened with Greg Hardy.
When you hear the term “domestic violence” or “domestic abuse,” does a certain image of the accuser, the accused and the situation come to mind? Have we all watched enough bad TV to know that there is even a stereotypical act of domestic violence? Think about the charges against Solo — a woman is the accused, her sister and nephew are the alleged victims … this doesn’t happen, or doesn’t make the papers, all that often.
So we may think of domestic violence in one way, even if we have examples of what it really looks like that don’t match our stereotypes. Remember, too, that the law has its own definition, and that could be different from our understanding and, for that matter, real-life situations. We’ll get into that in our next post.
Raleigh News & Observer, “Hope Solo suspended after husband’s arrest,” Jan. 21, 2015
North Carolina General Statutes Annotated, § 50B-1 “Domestic Violence: Definitions,” via WestlawNext