You gain strength, courage and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face…do the thing you think you cannot do.Eleanor Roosevelt
”If you see something, say something” ought not to be limited to seeing a suspicious package at the train station, the airport, or your neighborhood. It needs to be expanded to speaking up when we sense something, or witness something that may mean someone may be in jeopardy or need help. Even if we are not certain about this, yet our gut tells us something is not quite right. Something about the situation feels off, or uncomfortable.
The recent horrific story regarding the thirteen children abused and held captive by their parents, and the unfathomable number of young women sexually abused by Dr. Larry Nassar, the Olympic gymnastics team doctor, are just two examples that screamed something is wrong here! Something needs to be done! Yet even though there were people who saw something, nothing was said, nothing was done. Unfortunately, in these two situations it took the people who were being abused or victimized to come forth. Something needs to change so that these atrocities that are known by others cannot be ignored any longer.
None of Our Business
What is it that keeps some of us from saying, doing, or reporting something when we believe something is wrong, or suspect that someone may be suffering an injustice? Is it our fear, anxiety, or confusion? Is it because we do not want to get involved, or we believe that it is not our business…or is it that we do not know what to do—so we do nothing?
When people are being abused or neglected, or sexually assaulted, there is such trauma that they are not always able to speak for themselves, or reach out for help. What I am encouraging us to do is to explore within ourselves what stands in our way of saying something, or reaching out to someone who could do something, when we know or sense someone is being hurt in some way.
- Is there something in our own histories that prevent us from saying something?
- Were we told it’s not our concern and that we shouldn’t get involved?
- Did we grow up in a dysfunctional family environment and now believe that loyalty means keeping secrets?
- Were we taught that it is not okay to speak our truth or express our feelings and thoughts?
- Do we assume that someone else will speak up, or that it’s not our responsibility?
- Were we taught that if we say something we will get in trouble, so we don’t?
- Could it be that some of us were raised in alcoholic, or otherwise dysfunctional, families where what we saw or experienced was minimized, ignored, distorted, or we were punished for saying something about it?
Is it Possible That We Don’t Trust Our Own Perceptions?
Sometimes in dysfunctional families children’s perceptions are called into play. We may base our expectations of how others will treat us from our early experiences.
For more tips on addressing emotions that keep us from acting, please click on the link below for my complete article.
My wish for you today is that your emotions do not shield you from saying what you feel is right in your heart.
-Kathleen Dwyer-Blair, LCSW, BCD
Director Nassau Guidance and Counseling