Saturday, October 31, 2009

An Open Letter to The Richmond High School Rape Witnesses

Dear witnesses,

You disgust me. You really do. The entire news story disgusts me; rape is never ok and no one ever deserves it or asks for it, but the ones I blame even more than the perpetrators of the crime are you: the witnesses.

How could you stand by and let this happen? The news says there were at least ten of you. Ten people, standing or sitting nearby, seeing what was going on... or did you turn your heads? Did you pretend it wasn't happening? Did you watch with that same horrified fascination that presents itself at the scenes of brutal car crashes and burning homes? I understand that group psychology dictates that everyone in the group is predisposed to think that someone else will take responsibility. I was taught that the Kitty Genovese murder was allowed to take place because of a psychological blind spot which allowed every single witness to believe honestly and truly that someone else was calling 911. And knowing that, all of that psychological bullshit still doesn't excuse YOU. Any of you. All of you. You all sat back and waited for someone else to act first. None of you took responsibility and stepped forward.

You must have been scared. You must have been angry or uncomfortable or felt unsafe. But what did you do about it? You waited for someone else to save your asses, and hers. Now you have to live with the sickness that should rightly come with helping something like this happen. You have to go to sleep every night with the knowledge that you failed to stop a beautiful young woman from losing her self, her entire sense of safety within her own body and mind... and that a single word could have made a difference. You have to wake up every morning with a sense of personal failure - and you SHOULD. Every last one of you should learn to take responsibility for yourselves; you need to learn to step forward and speak up for your own safety. You could be next, regardless of your age, sex, or orientation. You could be the victim of another act of senseless violence, and what do you think you will feel like when you see 10 more faces staring at you, silent and watching as the crime takes place?

Think about that next time you walk by one of the rapists, or a fellow witness. Think about it, and feel disgusting, because you are. You are slime, and screaming for more lights, cameras and security fences will never protect you from yourselves. Only taking responsibility for your own safety and using your own voice can keep you safe. Maybe once you've figured out how to stand up and say something, instead of blindly hoping someone else will take care of it, you'll also figure out how to forgive yourselves.


The blogger who, from now on, is going to make even more of an effort to live responsibly.

1 comment:

  1. I hear you on this one. I can't help but think how we can't always attribute despicable acts like these to the bystander syndrome - at some point psychology needs to give way to pure, human morality. If we don't have morals to act when we need them, then we are surely no better than animals.