Thursday, February 23, 2012

It Is Your Business

We have all been faced with those conflicting, awkward moments when in public, at a friend or family member's home, at work, etc. when we realize we are witnessing abusive behavior. Benefit of the doubt causes us to wait a little bit longer and evaluate the situation further. If it's real abuse, we tell ourselves, we will call the police but often fear and the firm belief in this statement, It's none of my business results in the turning of our backs. Maybe not all of us respond this way, but most of us probably do.

A child being mistreated IS your business, even if you try to justify it as maybe a more extreme verion of discipline than you yourself would use. Think of it this way, if you treated another adult in the same fashion as what you are witnessing a child being treated, would assault charges apply? A woman being antagonized and verbally or physically abused IS your business. {Insert inappropriate and damaging situation here}, It IS your business.

It's uncomfortable to step in, but measure your discomfort to the amount of emotinal and physical pain and scars of the victim. It's conflicting to call child protective services. It is difficult to dial 9-1-1 because what if you are wrong?

More than likely, you aren't wrong.

Often victims of abuse are made to believe that they are at fault or that they deserve the treatment. But if one person, especially a stranger, steps forward and makes it known that the behavior is wrong and that he or she is willing to hold that person accountable, it does wonders for the victim. It validates the victim. Even if nothing changes, validation can change a life.
Abuse does not equal bruises. An abuser is not a tattooed drunk wearing disheveled clothing. Abuse has many faces, economical statuses, religions, and justifications. It's complicated and yet we try to put it in a box. We try to set limitations for what is "real" abuse. Victims of abuse don't see the same structure we do. They only experience immeasurable amounts of pain, the worst being mental and emotional.

Being enraged at the situation does nothing for the situation. Feeling compassion for the victim afterward and sharing how outraged you were about the situation on Facebook does nothing for the victim. If you are enraged then step up and take a risk. If you were the victim in the situation, what would you want someone to do for you?

Do it.


  1. I heard a speech given by a man who had grown up with abuse. It was directed to emergency response workers and child care workers. He told us of the officer who changed his life with a quarter. After a particularly troubling incident when officers responded to his home this particular officer pulled him aside and told him that while he could not promise him everything would be better and there would be no more problems, he wanted to let him know that life did not always have to be this way and whenever he was in need he could call and the officer would be there for him. The officer then gave him a single quarter and went his way. The speaker then told us how so many people in compassion and with best intents gave him promises that could not be kept, but the memory of that one officer who gave no promises of a better life, but offered to stand up and battle for him carried him through his childhood. He cautioned us not to make promises to children that could or would not be kept, simply be willing to do what you feasibly can and be their voice. Be the someone who is willing to come to their aid when it is needed.

  2. I agree. I have known far too many people (though even ONE is too many) who experienced sexual abuse as children, and that's not something most people ever see signs of around them. It's heartbreaking. I spend a fair amount of time bringing up the subject to other parents, trying to encourage them to have open discussions with their children on the topic, but who knows if my efforts will equal anything positive/protective down the road, and meanwhile bringing up that uncomfortable topic is going to do nothing for my popularity with fellow parents. But it's important to me. Definitely if you see any signs of child abuse, DO SOMETHING.