Super Bowl Ad Tells of the First Step on the Journey Beyond Abuse
If you watched the Super Bowl game on Sunday, you probably saw this ad. It was billed as the “first anti-domestic violence” ad ever — actually it is a public service announcement produced as part of the No More campaign with the help of the National Football League (NFL).
The ad portrays in a subtle but powerful way how a victim of domestic violence feels — scared, alone, vulnerable and unsure that she’ll find a way out. In the ad, the victim calls 911 in the middle of a dangerous situation but pretends to be calling for pizza delivery so that she can get the police to her house without warning her abuser that she has reached out for help.
It’s a chilling ad that I hope educates and reminds the viewing public what a victim of domestic violence experiences and how she must use all her resources to take that first step, boldly and courageously, to identify as a victim and get out of the abuse!
I applaud the women who have done it and the domestic violence and sexual violence crisis intervention programs around the world that provide them services to do that safely.
My niece, Maggie, a nineteen year old college student who was a victim of dating violence in 1999, did not have that chance. Her ex-boyfriend shot and killed her and then himself. There had been no signs of physical abuse in their relationship, he made no threats to harm her physically beforehand and she didn’t know he had a gun when she went to his dorm room that night, I believe, to tell him one more time to leave her alone.
Before her death, Maggie didn’t identify as a victim of abuse or realize how much danger she was in. She was not able to call on the police, the courts and domestic violence crisis services to help her take that next step from victim to survivor. If she had survived, I know that today she would be talking to women everywhere telling them that help is out there and that they don’t have to live with abuse and violence in their lives.
But I believe there is third step beyond abuse that Maggie also did not live to experience. That is the critical “next-step” of moving from victim to survivor to “thriver! Since 2001, I have conducted the My Avenging Angel Workshops™ in Maggie’s memory and helped hundreds of women find that “living well is their best revenge!” In addition, my book, The Thriver Workbook: Journey from Victim to Survivor to Thriver! published in 2010, sets forth the motivational guidance and interactive exercises I have successfully used in my workshops.
My workshops and workbook help women discover their hidden talents, quiet the negative inner critic, bring positive energy into their lives and set new, short and long term goals for themselves and their children. Since Maggie didn’t live beyond her moment of realizing she was being abused, I now work with women to help them discover the daring, exciting and creative futures beyond abuse that they so richly deserve.
So just as it is important for efforts like No More Super Bowl ad to educate the public about domestic violence, I believe that we must also support women in rebuilding their self esteem and reclaiming their lives after abuse. This is the work I do and it’s more than a workshop or workbook that I’m promoting. I believe it is a movement to help women permanently break the cycle of violence in their lives and thrive after abuse.
Here’s my working definition of a “thriver.”
A “thriver” is a happy, self-confident and productive individual who believes she has a prosperous life ahead of her. She is primed to follow her dreams, go back to school, find a new job, start her own business or write her story. She believes in herself and in her future so much that she will not return to an abusive relationship. She speaks knowledgeably and confidently about her experiences and is not stuck in her anger or need for revenge. Living well is her best revenge and she has found a network of women who understand and share her desire to move forward after abuse.
This is a definition in progress because so many of the women I have met in my workshops and through my workbook are doing such amazing things today — way beyond what I ever imagined my work might produce! They have started their own businesses, returned to school to get advanced degrees in law and medicine, got new jobs at higher pay or that more closely match to their skills and talents, resumed singing careers, become first-time homeowners, successfully managed their money and found new, healthy, non-abusive long-term relationships and a happy life for themselves and their children.
This is only the beginning of our movement. Let’s make it our goal to not only get women out of abuse, but also free them from the grip of low self-esteem, emotional fear, shame guilt, and hopelessness that come as the devastating, long-term consequences of abusive, destructive relationships.
Let’s have them THRIVING in peace, joy, freedom and love. They deserve nothing less!
“Surviving is important but thriving is elegant.”
— Maya Angelou
To learn more about Susan Omilian’s cutting-edge work, visit the Thriver Zone! (www.thriverzone.com) The Thriver Workbook and Companion CD are available there in the website Store. The workbook is also available on Amazon.com.