It’s twilight. You’re out walking, maybe it’s a park or maybe it’s a concert or maybe it’s a football game. You catch a little scuffle out of the corner of your eye, but you’re not sure what happened so you keep moving.
The next day, you hear the news. You didn’t know what you didn’t know, and now someone has been hurt because you didn’t act.
Never again! All it takes for evil to win is for good people to do nothing.
You have to get involved when you see something happen. Maybe you saw some teens putting down or verbally intimidating another teen. Maybe you heard a friend say something degrading behind the back of a female friend. Maybe you saw a male friend get too physically intimate with a female friend who looked uncomfortable. Maybe you saw a friend spike the drink of a stranger in the hopes of having a good time.
Bullying, sexual assault, domestic violence, and rape all happen every day in every community. However, statistics show that the vast majority of instances are never reported. Victims don’t seek help, or authorities blame the victim in a way that makes the victim give up. Even when victims are believed and taken seriously, the perpetrators are rarely caught.
Our culture likes to promote independence and keeping to ourselves as critical values to support. This makes education, prevention, and even intervention in the moment difficult. But it doesn’t have to be.
If we opened our eyes to see each person as someone we love–our mothers, brothers, cousins, sisters, BFFs–the courage and strength will rise up and give us power to act.
If something looks like a duck, swims like a duck, and quacks like a duck, it’s probably a duck. Said another way outside the trite colloquialism, if something looks wrong, it probably is.
Get involved. Ask questions. Act like the victim’s friend. Act like a crazy bag lady. If you don’t feel comfortable, find someone who will.
If you speak up, you are not a wet blanket, zero wannabe hero, killjoy, buzzkill, or a different derogatory term. You are showing the victim or potential victim that you see them, that they are real, that they are not alone, and that you care.
It’s time to stand for those who cannot speak for themselves in a moment of need. Because next time, it could be someone you love who needs help in your absence.
Author’s Note: April is not only for autism awareness; it is also for sexual assault awareness and child abuse awareness.
The National Sexual Violence Resource Center (site at http://www.nsvrc.org/about/national-sexual-violence-resource-center) has excellent information related to sexual assault awareness (yes, I did use the letter to the editor as a springboard to this post).
The US Department of Health and Human Services also has a subsite (at https://www.childwelfare.gov/topics/preventing/preventionmonth/) with information related to child abuse prevention.
This piece is dedicated to:
- The 44% of survivors under 18
- The 30% of survivors under 30
- The new survivor every 107 seconds
- The 293,000 survivors every year
- The 68% of survivors who never report
- The 98% of survivors whose perpetrators never serve human justice