Well, it happened again…
Over the past year or so, I’ve had numerous experiences where I’ve walked directly into the path of a woman in peril.
First, it was a teenage girl being harassed by her 200-pound, 6-foot-something ex-boyfriend on a street corner. She’d broken up with him. He didn’t like that. Things escalated quickly. She was sobbing. He was screaming and raging, hulking over her, inches from her face. I witnessed the scene while I was on my morning run, and I stormed up and told him to back the fuck away. He didn’t like that, either. After a tense face-off, he turned and headed back to his car. (But not before tossing a few curse words and threats in my direction.)
Then, it was a woman being slapped by her husband in a Parisian apartment. I could see everything through the window. It was horrendous. With a neighbor’s help (because my French isn’t exactly fluent) I called the police. They arrived asap and dragged the asshole away.
There have been other incidents, too.
It breaks my heart that ANYONE thinks it’s OK to humiliate, harass, beat, bully, or threaten a woman, girl, or human being of any gender. EVER. But this stuff happens. It happens a lot more frequently than we might think. It happens on street corners, it happens on Facebook and Twitter, and it happens behind locked doors in poverty-stricken communities and in affluent suburbs, too.
In the past, I’ve been the victim of sexual assault, stalking, and cyber-bullying. In the past, I’ve been a passive bystander, too. At times, I’ve been the woman walking away, eyes averted, head down, thinking, “Yikes, I hope someone deals with that…” or “Well, it’s none of my business…” or “It’s probably not as bad as it looks…”
Actually, it’s probably exactly as bad as it looks. Or worse.
I refuse to be that woman anymore. I refuse to be a passive bystander. I won’t be the person saying, “It’s none of my business.” Because I choose to make it my business.
If I see a sister in peril, I will intervene. I will make the call. I will step forward to help. And if she pleads, “No, don’t make a scene, it’s fine, really,” I will say, “Actually, it’s not fine, and your life is worth making a scene over.”
Those are the exact words that I said to the teenage girl who was being bullied by her ex. A few weeks later, she texted me and told me that conversation changed her life.
To you—the person reading this email—I am urging you to make a scene for yourself, for the people you love, and for strangers, too. When “nice, good people” like you and me watch silently from the sidelines, too afraid to intervene, that’s when the bullies win. We can’t let that happen.
Stand up. Say something. Do something. Make a fucking scene. This might mean calling the cops. It might be attending a women’s march. It might mean calling a friend who’s been struggling to say, “Are you doing OK? Like, really? I’m here to talk and I love you. Always.”
We all have the power to change, influence, inspire, even save a life, and sometimes all it takes is 3 seconds to say, “Stop” or “Back off” or “Here, let me help” or “Are you OK?”
Never underestimate how much power you have.
And never turn away and leave a sister in the streets.