By now, I’m sure everyone has gotten wind of what transpired at Penn State University. You can sense the seething anger in our country. The thought of so many young, vulnerable lives affected by one toxic individual in a position of power is disturbing, to say the least. On top of that, we’re consumed with anger at the thought of people being witnesses to this horror and keeping quiet. We can’t comprehend this silence and we imagine that if we were witnesses, we would stand by and protect a child. Faced with a situation like this, what would YOU really do?
A couple of months ago on a Saturday, I was working out at my gym. By 10:30, almost all the treadmills and elliptical machines were in use. I was deeply engrossed in an episode of Bonanza and was halfway through my workout when I heard something going on in the background. I felt compelled to take off my headphones and listen.
As I scanned the front desk, I immediately noticed that no one was up there. My eyes followed the “noise” in the gym until I stopped at a man and woman standing near the vacant front desk. The man was screaming at the woman and she was begging him to stop and quiet down. I listened carefully to better understand what was going on between the two of them. The more she asked him to quiet down, the louder and more aggressive he became.
I continued to watch for the next few seconds; she was sobbing and embarrassed as his voice got louder and his face got closer and closer to hers. As the altercation escalated, I listened to the words, “ You are a horrible mother, a horrible wife, you are worthless, and I should get rid of you”. With adrenalin racing through my body and the instinctive feeling that this man was out of control and about to get physical, I jumped off the elliptical and walked toward him. I wasn’t thinking at this point—
just reacting. What did I really think I was going to do? I walked over to him and as close as possible to his face while staring into his eyes. We glared at each other, and seconds later, he walked out.
I ran to the woman to see how she was doing. I questioned whether it was safe for her to go home and gave her some options and phone numbers if she needed help. Crying, she insisted she was fine and thanked me for the help.
My point is this; not one of the fifteen people in close range of the situation moved a muscle or even acknowledged in any way that something dangerous was taking place. Each person pretended like “it just wasn’t happening.” I’m sure that all the people there were very nice people that cared about others. If they had contemplated what they would do in a situation like this, they probably would have assumed that they would take action— at least make a call on their cell phone. However, that was not the case.
So girlfriend, the next time you’re put in this type of situation, what are YOU going to do? Will you stand by and pretend that you don’t see it happening? Will you convince yourself that you shouldn’t get involved? Will you rationalize the situation, like they did at Penn State, feeling that there is too much at risk to protect someone else? My hope is that you will find your Inner Sass and do the right thing!