Letter: Don’t be a bystander

You’re out, and you think you saw something. You’re not sure; maybe it was nothing. So, you simply keep walking. The next day you hear the news. Someone needed your help, but you didn’t know what to do.
April was Sexual Abuse Awareness Month; it was also your chance to get involved. As a bystander, you can safely change the outcome — prevent an assault by stepping in when something doesn’t look right.
Maybe you heard someone say something sexist or degrading. Maybe you witnessed someone trying to take advantage of a friend. Studies have shown that the occurrence of rape is more extensive than reported in official statistics, and the majority of rapists are never apprehended.
In a society that promotes a “mind your own business” message, speaking up might seem difficult. But it doesn’t have to be. Try to approach the situation as if it involved one of your friends. If you see something that doesn’t seem right, it probably isn’t. If you think someone is in trouble, ask if they are OK. Be honest and direct in explaining your concerns and reasons for intervening. If you don’t feel comfortable approaching a situation on your own, ask a friend, a coworker, or anyone, for help.
You aren’t ruining someone’s fun or being a jerk if you speak up. You are watching out for someone’s brother, sister, child or friend. Next time, it could be your loved one that needs help.
It’s time to get involved and do what is right.
For more information, please contact: Rangely Victim Services, (970)629-5729 or (970)629-0709.
[Original source: National Sexual Violence Resource Center, 2011]