If You Are Listening…

 She is always a little reserved; some may say that she is shy. But I have seen this look before, she is not quiet…she is afraid. She only wants to walk through life quietly without conflict or confrontation; not realizing that what she is doing can not be called living at all. She wants friends, but who would understand the way she is forced to live? She can not even confide in the family and friends that she has now…without the threat of bringing the darkness to their doorway, as well.

  How would she live with the fact that someone she loved may be hurt or even killed simply because they stood by her? So she moves silently…careful not to draw unnecessary attention to herself or her life. She flies under the radar, this self-isolating being of God…praying silently that one day this will all end.

She falls to her knees in desperation. “Dear God, if you are listening…please make him stop”. “Please let me fall asleep forever”. But the next day will look very much like this one…he will watch her; even if he doesn’t speak to her. His presence will speak more loudly than words or actions…”I am here”. “I am not going away”. “I am in control”. “I can not be stopped”. “If you tell anyone, I will kill them…and you will know it was your fault”. And at the end of this day, again, she will pray.

  Understand, her story is not as unique as you may think. Most likely you know someone similar to her, as over 1 million women are stalked in the United States every year. And 89% of femicide victims, the misogynous killing of women by men, have been abused and stalked by their killers12 months prior to their murder.

  What these statistics show is that this is an ongoing problem in our nation. One way of bringing this issue into the light is to remind people that stalking…following…pursuing…and tailing people for the purpose of keeping tabs on them…is not a sign or symbol of love and affection. This is a crime. We need to stop placing blame on the victims of this offense and start pointing fingers at the assailant. We have no reason or cause to continually attack the victim by making excuses for the perpetrator. “If she had said no more loudly…”, “If she hadn’t smiled at him…”, “If she hadn’t worn that outfit”…, “If she had told someone”. She was not at fault…and chastising her will not make the situation get better; all we do when we criticize her…is empower the abuser.

  Stalking is a step below assault and murder. It is compulsive, controlling and violent behavior. We must become aware of this problem…by humanizing the women who are under attack. She could be your mother…your sister….she could be your daughter. Raise your hands up; this is not a big boys club. This is not about brotherhood, it is about mankind. Speak up whenever you can, put your foot down…take a stand against misogyny and femicide.

  Begin today, re-evaluate the way we treat the women in our lives. What starts out small can become enormous…and the beauty in that statement is that we can make it better. Create awareness. January 2012 is Stalking Awareness Month; be aware of this problem. There is no age cap on the female victims, embrace our children. Teach our young boys and girls about respect and boundaries. Guide these young minds and hearts…they are looking to you for support and leadership.

  Show love, by expressing your intolerance of abuse. Don’t make the assumption that the behavior is harmless just because no one has been harmed yet. And if you want to get an idea of what this behavior feels like, on the receiving end…try this exercise: Take down all the curtains, blinds and shades from all of your windows in your home. Leave all your doors wide open…including the front and back door, in fact even leave your bathroom door open; How safe and secure do you feel? How does it feel to think that someone may watch you while you are watching television, eating, sleeping, changing clothes, and bathing? Imagine that every day of your life is like this…are you having fun yet?

  We MUST make a change…in ourselves and then in others. Spend today showing love to all of the women in your life. It can be cold living in the shadows shame and doubt…tell her you love her…let the warmth begin with you.