NO SAFE PLACES AND NO TRUE PROTECTORS
BY: PATTY L. FLETCHER
It’s just after school, you’re on your way home when you hear them. The catcalls, taunts, and fists as they fly. Quickly you shrink into the corner, way back in the shadows making sure to stay out of sight watching as the geek with the coke bottle glasses and old faded bookbag from seventh-period study hall is tormented yet again. You know he’s defenseless, yet you do nothing. When it’s over and the gang of loudmouthed redneck boys from the football team have run off to where ever it is, they go you step out, and only after making certain they’re gone for good do you approach.
As you help him pick up his books which are soaked with soured rainwater and streaked with dirt from having been tossed haphazardly into the ditch you murmur softly so as not to be overheard, “Dude, I’m sorry, that’s so wrong. I mean-don’t say I said anything, but you know? That just stinks.”
Gathering at your favorite eatery at the mall with your friends from your women’s book club you sit stunned and horrified as Marian once again must endure the snide remarks from the snotty rich Meg who just has to show off her new dress that had to cost nearly as much as Marian makes in two-weeks while she simultaneously degrades her by pointing out that the dress Marian is wearing is one Lauren put into the thrift store donation box just last week but only after Meg and Lauren have gone to the lady’s room do you speak.
“Oh Marian, I’m sorry. Don’t let her get to you, you know how she is? Oh dear, here she comes. Shhhh well-you know-no need to make a fuss. Right?”
It’s 2 AM and you sit with your Smartphone in your hand your mouth a perfect O of amazed disbelief as the nasty hurtful comments just keep piling up on your favorite FB group. One after another, they just keep popping up into the newsfeed from the group, which the group leader has just changed from closed to public so everyone can see the humiliation as one after the other the girls from college torment Becca about her report of date rape and how it was found to be false and rather than her attacker having been punished it was she who was suspended until next term for, “inappropriate conduct.”
And, even though you know better, even though you were there that night, and you saw what happened, you remain silent because to get involved would be the ruin of your reputation and after all, like you told Becca earlier in a private message, “I’m writing this just to you because I don’t want anyone else to see, but, I just wanted you to know that I think what happened is just so wrong, but I just cannot get involved you know. You understand, right?”
You live in an upscale neighborhood in a brand-new apartment that you worked hard to get, but the beauty of it is ruined by the sobbing of the little girl next-door as she begs night after night asking…
“Daddy, please don’t? Please? Stop! It hurts. I promise I’ll be a good girl. Please?”
Surely someone will report this. Her school, a doctor, a babysitter? Someone, you couldn’t possibly do it. What if her father found out? What would happen to you and your nice little life?
Sound harsh? Farfetched? Paranoid?
Guess what? It’s not. Those things and many others just like them go on day after day, week after week, and year after year and every-time you say, “don’t say anything” or, “I’m writing this just to you so no one else will see” or “Just ignore her you know how she is” Every-time you refuse to pick up the phone and make an anonymous call to the child-abuse hotline, every-time you hide in the corner or look the other way, you’re invalidating all those victims and more.
I’ve been Becca, Marian, and the geek. I’ve been abused, ignored, and blown off. I know that pain, and though many have reached out time and time again to lend their support, because no one would stand up and speak out against what they claimed to believe was so wrong, the hurt, and humiliation continued, and it was I who felt as if I’d done wrong.
I know what it is to stand up against that kind of thing too. Know what can happen when you speak out against the mistreatment of others. I’ve lost friends, family, and jobs from doing things such as that, but right is right and wrong is wrong and if no one ever stands up and makes a protest nothing changes.
All the Marians, Becca’s and geeks and little girls next-door continue to be bullied and abused.
So, go ahead, talk about all the injustice in the world from the comfort of your little bubble, make your private remarks, turn up the TV so you can’t hear. Go ahead, and you can be just like the bullies and the abusers.
Someday there will be a judgment. Someday all who stood by while one after another people like Becca, Marian, the geek, and the abused little girl next-door suffered will get to stand up, face their creator and explain why they said nothing. They will get to know what it is to feel they’ve no one who cares enough to speak up and take their part.
I’m tired of all the private messages. Tired of all the people who say they feel those like me have been done wrong, yet they will stand up and say nothing.
Just this day yet again I’ve left another group that for the most part I loved very much but because those who reached out to me did so privately and because I felt their right to privacy should be protected, I had no way to defend myself so when I reached out to those who made the rules and spoke out about how I felt about the ways in which I’d been treated, rather than receiving protection I was pushed out, made to feel I’d done wrong and told in no uncertain terms I was no longer welcome.
So go ahead, hold your silence go right ahead, you must live with yourself, I don’t have to live with you. You must answer to your creator one day, I don’t have to answer for you.
No, what happened to me wasn’t as bad as the abused little girl, or the bullied geek or the humiliated Marian but it was just as hurtful, and just as wrong.
I’ve had my say and made my point. Either people get the idea, or they don’t.
To me those who stand by and do nothing are as guilty as those who commit crimes. I’ve got many true and wonderful friends who had they been there this night would have most assuredly stood up and taken my part. I thought there were others who were there who would’ve done so but after the past few months I’ve learned better and though I’ve got several lovely and well-meaning emails I simply could take it no more and so I have left.
This post is not meant to make anyone feel guilty or upset. I’m just stating facts as I see them. If everyone sits in their little comfort zone and never speaks out against anything that’s wrong in this world things are only going to get worse.
You can write all the wonderful words you want about those who dared to stand forth against the wrongs of the world who are no more. You can talk about how much you admire them, and you can wait for someone else to come along who is willing to take their place, or you can stand up with me against the bullies, and abusers of the world and make a difference. The choice is up to you.
For now, I’m done. I’m tired beyond belief, my spirit is simply crushed, and I can stand no more this day. And so I shall return you to your real good feel good life and I hope if the time ever comes that you need a bit of protection, I’m somewhere nearby because whether you’ve been there for me or no will make no difference to me. I will stand by you and take your part because that’s what Mother Father God would have me do.
So Mote It Be and Blessid Be Amen.