The Bystander Conundrum

IMG_2610My niece is here, an I could not be happier! She is absolutely perfect in every way, from her beautiful face to her cute little personality. She’s been sticking her tongue out and making the silliest puppy noises. She’s a goofball already, and I’m looking forward to watching her grow and interact with my own children.


Not everything this week has been as positive as meeting Ms. Nora. There’s a person in my life who is mistreating and verbally abusing someone I love. It’s hard to watch, and my ability to protect this person is limited. It hurts like hell, it’s frustrating, and I’m spinning my wheels trying to think of a way to help.


superman-family-217_01For years I’ve witnessed the torture, and haven’t been able to stop it. I can only “damage control” so much after the fact by supporting the victim. It’s not like people have failed to pointed out the abuse, or tried to stop it. The aggressor denies that her words are actually hurtful, and insists that she is in a position to voice her opinions. Sometimes I feel like I’m standing in front of a train, trying to stop it by hand. The fact is, the brakes can only be activated from inside.


qlqcszmkp9yzOne of the most profound things I’ve ever heard is a quote by Louis C.K. – “When a person tells you that you hurt them, you don’t get to decide you didn’t.” It doesn’t matter who brings the issue to your attention- a concerned family member, a friend of your own, or the victim themselves. If someone tells you that you are constantly over aggressive and hurtful, you need to take a hard look at yourself. The aggressor is the only one who has the power to change their actions. Else wise, the environment may change when people stop interacting with the aggressor altogether.


I’ve been spending far too long trying to figure out where I belong in this scenario. When I feel the urge to speak my mind, the words “know your place” seems to pop into the forefront of my mind. Will I make the situation worse? Is there any point in arguing with a wall? Can you make someone who dodges accountability see their wrongs and change their actions? I don’t know. The last thing I want to do is make this person even more mean, but I’m full of energy to intervene. I’m seeing something, so I think that means I’m supposed to say something. I just don’t want the victim to take the push-back from my actions.


I’m trying to find balance between my mama bear- protective side, and my level-headed mom side. I’m trying to figure out what to do. It’s keeping me up at night, which is why I’m blogging at 4 AM. The trying doesn’t seem to get me anywhere. I know there’s action to be taken, but how? Where do I start? How do I help fix the cracks before my loved one breaks altogether?


It’s harder to put someone together later than it is to stop them from being torn down in the first place. Let’s all try to avoid this situation all together. Don’t be the aggressor. Be understanding. Be kind to each other.


Kate and the Kids.

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