How many times have you seen the phrase, “If you see something, say something,” on a billboard or subway sign? Those words are very important when it comes to friendship and love. So often, we ignore warning signs when acquaintances, friends or relatives cry out for help. Those cries may actually be silent. They may not say anything directly, but we may see bruises, hear whispers that most people consider gossip or notice the person has called in sick for days.
Thinking back over the years, I’ve had two instances in which colleagues or acquaintances were beaten up by their husbands. I found out about both accounts long after the fact, but it made my heart break that no one knew if anyone did anything to help right away. What’s even worse, I think both women are still with those men.
They may have split up for a little while, but ultimately ended right back with the same men who hit them. I wonder why they didn’t leave? Both were very strong women and I assume still are today. I suppose it takes strength to deal with hypocritical, two-faced men who say one thing in public and another in private. They may be all smiles while conducting business, but racist and sexist behind closed doors. Abuse isn’t something you may see every day. It may come out when you least expect it, during normal conversation. You never know what will trigger a temper that turns violent. The victim may mention one detail from her past that sends a man into a rage. Who knew?
Perhaps, women stay with abusive men because of their children. But, who wants to grow up hearing arguments and seeing violence? Just one image or sound can stick with a child for his or her entire life. Do we want our children to grow up just like the abusers?
Just something to think about next time you see a friend or relative in need. Follow your gut instinct, because it’s usually correct. Offer help, even if it’s turned away. At least the person will know that you care.
I wish I had known these women better. I would have offered a place to stay, whether it be for a week, a month or a year and accompanied them to file for divorce. I know it’s no easy task. I am a child of divorce. But, I wish I could have done something back then.
I’m doing something now, by talking about violence. No one deserves to be violently hit repeatedly, whether it’s a woman, man or child. If you know something, say something. Take action. One blow could be fatal. One warning sign could save a person’s life.
Note: National Domestic Violence Hotline advocates are available 24/7 at 1-800-799-SAFE (7233) in more than 170 languages. All calls are confidential and anonymous.