Monday, December 13, 2010

Words are worth a thousand facebook profile photos

Slacktivism. I just don't get it. All that time you spent finding your favorite Thundercat photo? Couldn't you have spent that time building a relationship with a small human who might need your help?

Use your computer to speak up. Statistics say 1 in 4 girls and 1 in 6 boys will be sexually abused before they turn 18. You know someone who was. You probably know a child now who is being abused in some way. No one hears about it. It's hidden away, it's not spoken of. I have friends who cite being raped at age 12, beaten with any number of items for minor misbehavior before the age of 10, 8 year olds taking care of their younger siblings while a parent went into blind screaming drunk rages or just forgot to buy food because they were buying drugs.

As children, we all learned 'stranger danger'. We never learned that family might be unsafe. We never learned that our teachers, our doctors, our ice cream man, our sports coaches, or our friend's dad might not be the paragons of safety and adult virtue we wholeheartedly expected them to be.

When our childhood trust was betrayed, we didn't know who to go to. We trusted the teacher, the boyfriend, the police officer, the therapist. When they shot our dog in front of us to illustrate what would happen if we told, we believed them. When they said that no one would believe us, or that there was nothing to talk about because everyone did this, we believed them. We were raised to trust adults. When we withdrew, when we stopped wanting to go to school, or refused to come home, when we started fights, threw temper tantrums for no apparent reason, when we peed our beds and set things on fire, people chalked it up to childish phases.

Children are voiceless. They can't speak out. As adults, most still can't speak out. It's been beaten, penetrated, and verbalized into these survivors since age 3, 6, or 14. No one will believe you. You are a liar. You deserve this. There is nothing wrong. You are sick. They just want to love you. They just want you to be better. They are doing this for our own good. This is normal. Don't tell, or they'll hurt you. Don't tell, or they'll hurt your brother, mother, or sister. Don't tell, people will think we're sick. Don't tell, no one will love us. Don't tell. Keep silent. It's our little secret. Don't tell. If you tell, you'll get hurt. Other people will get hurt. We'll die. We'll be never be loved again. Don't tell. You'll be punished. Stay silent. It's better that way.

Silence. Fear. It's happening next door to you. It's happening across the street. Don't look. One of your classmates has bruises. Don't look. Don't tell. Your daughter cries herself to sleep at night. Close your eyes, it's just hormones. One of your students is withdrawn. Shh, don't say anything. He'll come to you when he's ready. The kid you babysit clings, begs you not to leave. Walk away. Nothing is happening. Everything's fine. If you don't see it, it doesn't exist. If you don't hear it, it didn't happen. If no one tells you, then it didn't happen to them. If you don't talk about it, it didn't happen to you. Everything's fine. Everyone's fine. Don't look. Stay silent.

If you're not sure what you can do, how to speak out, speak up, and help, there are resources.
Darkness to Light and the Rape, Abuse, and Incest National Network can teach you to recognize the signs of abuse, and give you plenty of information. Stop it Now is good for resources for parents, teachers, survivors, whoever. Survivors of abuse, children who are being abused, can still be helped, and there are a hundred small ways to do it that won't inconvenience you. Don't think you can make a difference? All it takes is one person. Or a bunch of bikers. But we don't need your facebook photo. We need your voice.

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