Saturday, March 14, 2009

standing up for yourself

Something I've been trying to encourage my clients to do lately is to speak out.  It seems like every day I'm hearing another story of injustice, and the abuse of my clients.  It bugs me, and while I can, and do, speak out about it, I think they need to as well.  I think not only is it more powerful coming from them, but I also think it can be very empowering.  

The thing is though, the group of people I work with tend to feel very powerless.  The most common thing I hear when I suggest "saying something" is "they won't believe me" and/or "no one will believe me".  And the thing is, they might just be right, infact, I can almost guarantee it.  However, I don't believe it always has to be this way.  

One of my clients this week came in with a black eye and a swollen hand.  When asked what happened, he said the police picked him up at a bar fight, and instead of charging him or hauling him off to the drunk tank they took him to a field at the edge of the city, beat him, and left him.  It's hard for us to believe stories like that.  The police are authority figures and this man is a homeless drug user.  However, I know this man, and he's very open about getting into fights.  He fully admits to the bar fight.  He states he was defending an old man the security guard through into the street, and this is the kind of man who would do that.  I don't see why he would make up the story about the police when he'll admit any other time that it was just a fight.  Anyway, he won't report it because they police involved would "just make it worse and beat him harder" and no one would listen anyway.  

Another client was groped by a security guard in a department store.  He tried to get her into a bathroom and called her many things I don't want to publish.  The usual things one says to females.  Her male partner (who also abuses her) "rescued" her and now wants to beat the security guard up.  He won't, because he fears reprecussions due to the guards status as an authority figure, but neither of them will report it because they feel no one will listen.  

I've been trying to help these people, and others see the bigger picture.  They're right, no one might listen.  Not the first time.  But what happens if every one this is happening to starts coming forward.  It might not make a difference, but it might, and then at least people could begin to feel like they are standing up for themselves.  As I've pointed out to them, nothing might change if you report it, but if 25 of you report it, over time, things may begin to change.  

I don't think we'll ever stop police from taking things into their own hands, men from assaulting women, and authority figures from abusing their power, at least not in my lifetime, but I think that standing up for truth and for justice can make a big difference.  

1 comment:

talesofacrazypsychmajor said...

This isn't related but I figured you might find this story interesting http://www.thecrimson.harvard.edu/article.aspx?ref=526171

I've walked past that 'bookstore' for years and only just recently learned the story behind it.