A powerful trio formed by President Barack Obama, pop star Katy Perry and a survivor took their fight against domestic abuse to the Grammy Awards on Sunday and exhorted artists to use their power to stop violence against women and girls.
Obama appeared at music’s biggest night via a pre-recorded video stating that nearly one in five women in America has been a victim of rape or attempted rape and one in four women has experienced domestic violence.
“It’s not OK and it has to stop,” Obama said. “Artists have a unique power to change minds and attitudes and getting us talking and thinking about what matters.”
Obama asked the millions of viewers of the CBS telecast to go to the site ItsOnUs.org to make a pledge to stop violence.
“And to the artists at the Grammys tonight, I ask you to ask your fans to do it too,” he added. The hashtag #ItsOnUs began trending within minutes on Twitter.
Obama was followed by a survivor of domestic violence, Brooke Axtell, who took the Grammy stage and explained how her ex-boyfriend had threatened to kill her and how she made excuses for his anger and abuse.
“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,” Axtell said.
Katy Perry then appeared on stage in an austere white gown to perform her inspirational survival anthem “By the Grace of God.”
Her performance stood in contrast to her headlining act at last Sunday’s Super Bowl half-time show, which was high on spectacle but made no reference to domestic abuse, the polemical issue that plagued the National Football League last year.
The Grammys were once famously overshadowed by a startling case of domestic abuse.
On the eve of the 2009 Grammys, R&B singer Chris Brown, who was nominated for three Grammys this year, beat up then-girlfriend and singer Rihanna. Both were in attendance on Sunday, with Rihanna performing shortly after Perry.
The NFL, which has become the public face of domestic violence after a spate of arrests among players, aired during last week’s Super Bowl a public service announcement of a woman’s emergency call in an effort to draw attention to the cause.