What makes an effective sexual-violence PSA?

Initiating a dialogue around physical and sexual abuse isn't easy, but these creative public-service videos attempt to educate the masses about rape culture and how each of us can help to eradicate it.

Super Bowl 49 aired on Sunday night, and somewhere between the many touchdowns and ads for beer, cars, and cell-phone plans appeared a conspicuous outlier: No More, an American sexual-violence awareness movement aired a chilling 60-second spot in which a woman can be heard calling 9-1-1 to report an abusive situation under the guise of a pizza-delivery call.

It’s the first PSA of its kind ever to air during the year’s biggest sporting event, but organizations around the globe have been putting together smart, attention-grabbing and emotionally devastating outreach ads as dialogues about sexual violence continue to permeate our cultural consciousness. Whether from the viewpoint of celebrities, fraternity brothers, or emotionally frustrated young boys, all of our PSA picks exemplify the new, frank conversation surrounding sexual assault, and the collection of diverse voices speaking out against it.

1. “A Needed Response,” University of Oregon

Put together by two University of Oregon students following the brutal assault of a Steubenville high-school girl, this anti-rape PSA went viral and has been awarded a Peabody Award for its surprising twist on campus party etiquette.

2. “Excuses,” No More

Another piece from the folks at No More. Famous faces like Law and Order: SVU star Mariska Hargitay, Amy Poehler and Katie Couric spout victim-blaming statements like, “Well, he was drunk” and “She was asking for it” to illuminate societal biases that dissuade victims from coming forward and seeking justice.

3. “Break the Silence,” Wilfred Laurier University

The men of WLU’s Sigma Chi fraternity share their thoughts on campus rape culture and the importance of showing support for survivors of sexual violence.

4. Who Are You? Campaign, New Zealand [Trigger warning: graphic imagery.]

This eight-minute short demonstrates the importance of bystander intervention in preventing cases of sexual assault—whether a roommate or a stranger, we all have a role in stopping victimization.

5. #StartWithTheBoys, #VogueEmpower [Trigger warning: graphic imagery.]

A stirring ad produced by Alex Kuruvilla, managing director of Conde Nast India, in an effort to shed light on the many ways in which Indian women are oppressed. The must-watch short suggests boys who aren’t permitted to cry will channel their frustrations in other, possibly violent, ways.

This story is part of #Project97 — a year-long conversation about sexual assault, abuse and harassment. Visit Project97.ca for more details on this collaborative project by Rogers-owned media outlets, and join us on Twitter with the hashtag #Project97.