This month, the NO MORE PSA Campaign launched a series of print, broadcast, online, and outdoor advertisements, the goal of which is to raise awareness around issues of domestic violence and sexual assault. The 3-year long campaign was developed in response to a study conducted earlier this year which revealed what many advocates and survivors have long known--namely, that domestic violence and sexual assault continue to be widespread and that there exists a shockingly high degree of silence and inaction around both issues. A call to action
Given these findings, the NO MORE campaign has chosen not to direct their message to individual victims or offenders. Instead, the campaign calls on friends and family members to take action to intervene in potentially violent situations to prevent survivors from experiencing further victimization. The message of NO MORE is also directed at society as a whole; challenging widespread beliefs about accountability and victimization.
In the print and television ads, celebrities such as Mariska Hargitay call for an end to the excuses commonly used to justify inaction. Rationalizations such as "She was really drunk", "He's such a nice guy though", or "Why doesn't she just leave" are among the many which are exposed. Below are two of the many online videos produced by NO MORE.
The brilliance of the this campaign lies in its message of broad accountability, calling on friends, family members, and even coworkers to do their part to end or prevent sexual assault and domestic violence. Such a message refocuses the accusatory attention often directed at survivors of victimization--attention which sadly blames the survivor for being abused or sexually assaulted. The inclusion of men in the delivery of the NO MORE campaign's message is also a step in the right direction. Too often women are instructed on how to best protect themselves against a potential assault. We are told to not go out alone at night, to carry pepper spray with us at all times, and to be careful of how much alcohol we drink at a party. Those who are intent on harming women are unfortunately not included in conversations about ending sexual assault and domestic violence, thus absolving them of any responsibility for their wrongdoing and further stigmatizing victims. Furthermore, as can be seen in one of the videos above, NO MORE includes statistics on male victims of intimate violence and sexual assault, challenging the notion that men are always perpetrators of violence and never the victims.
Unfortunately however, the NO MORE ads fail to address the issue of domestic violence within same-sex relationships. In addition to male victimization, intimate violence between LGBTQ couples is under addressed in the anti-violence movement. The inclusion of statistics as they relate to rates of victimization in the LGBTQ community would have served to further strengthen the message of this campaign.
Redefining the victim
As was mentioned above, it is widely believed that men are always perpetrators of violence while women are always victims. Not only are these beliefs inaccurate as they relate to the reality of male victimization, they assume that violence only takes place within heterosexual relationships. Advocating for a more inclusive definition of victim is not intended to undermine the gendered nature of domestic violence and sexual assault. Indeed, statistics on domestic violence and sexual assault reveal the centrality of gender in the dynamics of both forms of victimization. Our hope here at CVR is that anti-violence activists and advocates will continue to examine and expose the misconceptions that have long harmed survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault. Only after redefining victimization to reflect the totality of experiences with domestic violence and sexual assault can treatment and intervention offer individuals a viable option to end the violence that plagues the lives of survivors, their families, and their communities as well.
For more information on male victimization, click here to visit the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence's website.
More information on domestic violence within the LGBTQ community can be found here.