“Hey Jude, don’t make it bad. Take a sad song and make it better”
Where in the world have I been? I know, it’s been a while since I’ve typed up a blog for you all. I wanted to share something that was a dagger in my heart tonight with you all.
It’s the night before Thanksgiving, and the Walmart here in our town is moving everything around to make room for Black Friday sales (chaos included.) I was sitting in my house when I realized I didn’t have any more soap, which is detrimental to a shower for me. My skin is so sensitive, and the air is so dry up here, that if I showered minus the soap I would surely dry up into a prune. Not a cute image.
So the quest began for some more soap. I threw on pants and drove to Wal-Mart at 9:00 at night.
If you’ve ever been shopping with me leading the pack, you’ll know I don’t just go in for one thing. I go in. I look at the chocolates just for the hell of it, then move on to the clothes. I’ll go to the specific item in the store I want more than anything. Then maybe I’ll mosey my way on to where I’m actually supposed to go. After checking out the on sale candy, I went to look at the off brand Sherpa pullovers that Wal-Mart was selling for $9. Not a bad deal.
In the midst of me feeling the softness, a couple walks towards the back of the store. The man follows the woman, who is obviously in distress. He is short and tubby, wearing a snapback and pants that fall way below his waist. He is huffing and puffing as he walks, yelling at her to stop. The woman with dark hair and dark eyes does as she’s told, but doesn’t turn around to meet his gaze. And then it unfolds something like this:
Him: “You better slow the fuck down. I’m not fucking chasing you through all of Wal-Mart.”
Her (in a muffled voice): “Calm down, you’re humiliating me.”
Him: “Humiliating you? No this is humiliating you.” (he raises his voice) “Slow the hell down or you can walk home!”
Her: (turns the cart and herself away from him and starts to walk towards the front of the store)
Him: “I’m not doing this. The way you treat me is unbelievable.” (To me and the family I was near in the Women’s Clothing section) “Can you believe this?”
Her: (turning herself and the cart back towards him) Stop. You’re making a scene.
Him: I’M making a scene? Do you see yourself right now? All I did was ask you to slow down and you couldn’t even do that for me. I could just leave you here, you know.
(They disappear to another part of the store leaving us all to ponder what was going to happen.)
I felt sick to my stomach watching this all play out, and after they left, I felt even sicker. The whole time, I just sat there, stricken with fear. I wasn’t even a victim and I was scared. Frozen. And although my body was in one place, my mind kept repeating Say something. Do something. Tell someone. Intervene. But I didn’t.
I skipped the rest of my Steps of Shopping and went straight for what I needed. I wanted to go home.
As I headed to the Self Checkout, I see the two, the man waddling behind her. He’s shouting something at her and the 5 1/2 people in the store all stare.
Him: “Man, no more Christmas. No more Thankagiving. How lonely that will be for you, huh?”
Her: (stares straight ahead)
Him: “If only these people could see how badly you treat me.”
He waddles right by me, so close I can smell his cologne and the weed on his breath. For a split second, I wonder if I was on an episode of What Would You Do and I think fast about what to do. My mind goes through millions of filing cabinets in my brain, thinking back to any and all articles I’ve ever read.
And that’s just it.
What do you do?
What would you do?
I’ve always said I would step out to someone abusing their child in the middle of the milk and cheese section. But what about a man being verbally abusive to a woman in between graham crackers and Sherpa pullovers? We can easily say “Oh 100% I would beat him up right there.”
But would you really?
Endingviolence.org says “Chances are that at some point in your daily life you have witnessed, heard or seen someone act in a way that was derogatory, degrading, abusive or violent towards women. Be it in the form of a joke, cat call, comment, put down, or physical or sexual assault, this is all violence against women. In these moments, people often feel that their only choices are to say nothing, look the other way or physically intervene, potentially exposing themselves to violence. There is much more in fact that can be done.
The same site suggests that rather than being violent towards the abuser, you rather speak directly towards the victim. Stand near them to offer your presence. Then, give her control. In this case, I should have gone directly to the woman and asked “Is he bothering you? / Are you okay? / Is there anyway I can help?” In any case, however, if there is a threat or physical harm of any kind, get help from security or 911 immediately.
I share this information with you, not to seem like I’m writing an essay for an english class, but because most of us don’t know. I left Wal-Mart, sat in my car and cried for this woman. As a female myself, I felt I had failed her. If I had been in her shoes, I would have wanted someone to say something. But I didn’t know what to say. So of course, I trusted my old friend, Google with that help.
Right before I left Wal-Mart, I went back inside and bought the Sherpa pullover I probably didn’t need, to remind me of this woman and all women who endure domestic violence, as corny as that may sound. And while most of you out there will go on with your Thanksgivings tomorrow, stuffing your face and watching football, I would like to ask a favor. Please think about these women who don’t get happy holidays, or happy any-days. The women that are suffering, or have suffered. Take a minute out of your day tomorrow to think about them. Then go back to your turkey, and enjoy the rest of your day.
For more information about what to do in case you find yourself in a situation where you happen to be a bystander, visit http://endingviolence.org/prevention-programs/be-more-than-a-bystander/what-you-can-do-to-be-more-than-a-bystander/
Until next time,