A short break from Romance, in observance of Domestic Violence Awareness Month

I’m going to school three mornings a week this term and Wednesday when I left class, my brain happily numbed by oversaturation with legalese, I was greeted by the sight above.  In honor of Domestic Violence Awareness Month the Women’s Resource Center on campus sponsored this T-Shirt Project to get people talking.  It’s not a romantic subject, but it’s one where I have to contribute my $0.02.  Change happens when we refuse to stop talking about something.

Love makes people do crazy and often stupid things, like make excuses for the bad behavior of others.  I’m happy to notice that this abdication of personal power seems to be getting less acceptable.   And not in the “s/he’s stupid if s/he stays” kind of way of 20-30 years ago (at least not exclusively).

Today on the train into town a young man was acting inappropriately.  It started with what he may’ve seen as flirting, and it would’ve seemed like flirting if he hadn’t followed it up the way he did.  He sat behind the young woman beside me and after a few minutes she turned around and told him not to touch her hair again.  She said it nicely but firmly, probably giving him the benefit of the doubt whether it had been intentional.  Well, I didn’t hear or see his answer, but she told him more loudly not to do it again.  A few moments later she stood up and moved to the doorway of the train.  I’d been paying attention in case she needed me to step in but didn’t see him do anything so I’m not sure of all the details, but we both got off at the next stop.  Another young woman talked to her before I had the chance, she said he’d been walking around hitting on women and wasn’t it horrible.

Now, I figured he wasn’t going to stop until/unless something or someone made him, but before I could figure out how to get the driver’s attention the gal did it herself.  She marched right up to his window & knocked & told him what was happening.  It would’ve been so easy for her to just go on her way and try to forget it ever happened, but she didn’t.

Obviously she had no feelings for him prior to this exchange, and what she felt afterward was nowhere near love, but her actions spoke loudly to me.  This gal has boundaries and doesn’t suffer their breach in silence.

I can only hope her response would be the same if someone she loves and trusts were to cross those boundaries.  Given the right support system and her habit of taking such actions seriously, she could end up staying safe in the long term.  And if more and more girls (and boys!) grow up with this kind of awareness it’s reasonable to expect Domestic Violence to become far less common in only a few generations.

None of us can control the actions of others, but we can control how we react to them and to what extent we give them power in our lives.  If you know someone who’s struggling with Domestic Violence, the conversation could save their life.  Feel free to use this story to open the door—use anything, just get the door open.  You can’t make them walk through it, but I guarantee that if you don’t open it they won’t even realize it’s there.

Thanks for listening.  Be safe out there!

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