In a video message, President Barack Obama urged the Grammys audience Sunday evening to help put an end to sexual violence. The message was part of the “Its On Us” campaign that started last September. The campaign was created in response to the large number of sexual assaults that happen on college campuses.
Obama shared troubling facts about sexual violence in the video. According to Obama, one in five women in the United States has been a victim of rape or attempted rape. In addition, he shared that one in four women has experienced domestic violence. He told the audience the violence is, “not okay and it has to stop.”
In addition to speaking to the public watching the Grammys, Obama spoke directly to the recording artists. “Artists have a unique power to change minds and attitudes and get us thinking and talking about what matters,” said Obama. He urged artists to encourage their fans to take the “It’s On Us” pledge of helping end violence against women.
Once Obama’s video was finished, domestic violence survivor and activist Brooke Axtell took the stage to share her story. According to Axtell, “after a year of passionate romance with a handsome, charismatic man, I was stunned when he began to abuse me.” She shared the wide range of emotions she had as she endured the abuse, from wanting to help her abuser get better to feeling ashamed. Once he threated to kill her, she said she knew she had to get away from him. She ended her time on the stage by telling the audience, “if you’re in a relationship with someone who does not honor or respect you, I want you to know you are worthy of love. Please reach out for help.”
The “It’s On US” campaign has had a lot of support since it was created. The first PSA video released in September had many major celebrities, including Jon Hamm and Kerry Washington. In addition, over 140 colleges and universities have since submitted their own “It’s On Us” videos showing their support and pledging to help stop sexual violence.
The pledge Obama spoke of to the Grammys audience is simple. The pledge asks everyone to recognize sexual assault, identify situations in which sexual assaults may occur, and to intervene in situations of possible sexual assault. In addition, individuals are pledging “to create an environment in which sexual assault is unacceptable and survivors are supported.” Those who take the pledge will provide their name, email address, zip code and school.
Obama reminded the audience in his video that, “it’s on us, all of us, to create a culture where violence isn’t tolerated, where survivors are supported, and where all our young people, men and women, can go as far as their talents and their dreams will take them.”