Today is White Ribbon Day.
Today, men across the country will swear an oath publicly that they will not be violent against women. They stand up and acknowledge that too many women live in fear of the people who should love them the most.
But today is also a chance for women to make a commitment.
This commitment is not loud, it is not public. There are no ribbons. There are no speeches.
It is a simple, private commitment we make to ourselves. A silent promise.
Because there are things that we know and things that we see. We know when our friends are hiding something. We know when she is trying to hide her pain. We hear warning bells when a friend tells us that her partner makes her write down every dollar she spends so he can check it, or he demands to know where she is, or he punches a wall when he’s angry.
We see it all. We sometimes pretend we don’t and we avoid it. We don’t want to embarrass her. We don’t want to dwell on unhappy things.
So we need to make a promise.
That promise is this:
We won’t turn away when we see a woman who needs help.
We won’t think ‘it’s not my place’ when we see, hear or suspect a woman we know is not safe, physically or psychologically.
We won’t pretend we don’t notice when the light goes out in a friend’s eyes.
We will never again be secretly relieved when she changes the subject.
We won’t judge or convince ourselves there’s an explanation or decide it isn’t ‘bad enough’ to say anything.
We won’t balk at asking the uncomfortable question, we won’t tell ourselves not to get involved in ‘private business’.
And we won’t hesitate to say the things that need to be said:
“You don’t need to feel ashamed.
I see you.
I hear you.
I will help you.”
If this post brings up any issues for you, or if you just feel like you need to speak to someone, please call 1800 RESPECT(1800 737 732) – the national sexual assault, domestic and family violence counselling service. It doesn’t matter where you live, they will take your call and, if need be, refer you to a service closer to home.