Monday, March 23, 2009

Don’t Sit Quietly. Speak Up.

Hello there. This is “G” and yes, you can call me G. I also work at Break the Cycle. Every now and then you’ll find me blogging here, for the most part offering tidbits about how domestic and dating violence has affected some people—anonymous names, of course. I think it’s important to share these types of experiences so that youth can get a better understanding of what it is to be a victim and why it’s important to give and get help. So to begin, I’ll share an experience of mine…

Not long ago, a couple moved in next door. Even though they seemed to quietly keep to themselves, I quickly learned that their relationship was not as breezy as it appeared. Soon there were arguments, slamming doors, and frequent storming down the stairs. It was a terrible situation from where I stood.

One recent night, around 1:30 in the morning, I was suddenly awakened by the screams of the woman next door. At first I couldn’t tell what she was saying, only that there was sincere panic in her voice. I sat up in bed right away, quickly trying to make sense of what was happening. Was it a burglar? Was she having a bad dream? As I tried to wrap my head around the situation I immediately heard the voice of the man, hard, cursing, yelling…angry. It scared me; they were just one wall away. And then I heard her clearly, “Somebody call the police!” Again and again she screamed.

I jumped out of bed and ran for my phone. I called the police and told them what I knew: my neighbor was screaming for help; a domestic violence situation. She asked if I was safe, if I was inside and away from the situation. I said yes. She then thanked me for calling and said the police would be over soon.

The police did come in a matter of minutes. I peered out my window quietly, trying to catch a glimpse. They never came to my door but they did speak to both the man and the woman separately. I was still concerned for the woman but I was confident that the police would deal with the situation appropriately. So I went back to bed, 30 minutes after the whole thing had started. She moved out the next day.

So what’s the moral of the story? That I practice what I preach? No, not exactly. The lesson is, do something to offer help. Never put yourself in harm’s way, obviously. But if you’re witness to a situation where someone is being hurt by their partner, don’t sit quietly hoping someone else will do the talking for you. Speak up. Don’t put yourself in the middle of the situation, especially if there is physical violence. But do find a safe way to get help. Call the police. Tell a security guard. Find someone who can help. Abuse is never okay. Don’t stand for it. In that moment, you just might save a life.

Do you have a similar story that you’d like to share? Or how about commenting on whether you would’ve done something different? I welcome your contributions.

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