I was sitting in bed just now, eating chocolate (don't judge me), when I read two articles about #WhyIStayed, here and here. Can I just tell you how amazing these past few weeks have been? I'm literally on the verge of tears right now. I've met so many beautiful women and men. Hundreds of beautiful people have written about #WhyIStayed. Lots of hugs, smiles, encouragement, and support. Who would have thought that this level of beauty would bloom from the firmly planted voice of survivors?
Back in grad school I wrote a paper about the Bystander Effect, the clever name of a tragic social phenomena. The Bystander Effect states that when there are many people present, it is less likely anyone will help a person in trouble. What has happened with #WhyIStayed is the opposite of that. People aren't looking around waiting for someone else to help. People are stepping up! Donating money to organizations, retweeting links, and calling domestic violence helplines. People are coming together.. speaking out in defense of those who have suffered. Isn't that beautiful?
One of the first emails I received from a survivor had the subject "Thank you for helping me leave". My hands were shaking as I typed the reply.. "Are you safe? Do you need assistance? I can connect you to an organization in your area." It turns out that the person was already safe. They'd connected with a domestic violence organization in their area already. They just wanted to share their story! I can't take full credit for that. The beautiful people who transformed a three word hashtag into a global movement get credit. The beautiful people who took a chance on a potentially controversial series of tweets get credit. The beautiful people who lived or are living through domestic violence, who took to their electronic devices and said "NO MORE" get credit.
You are the beautiful people. And I'm honored to have crossed paths with all of you.