I recently read a tragic news article about a 15 yr.old girl, in San Jose, CA who was sexually assaulted, and filmed, by six teenage boys at a party. The shame from surviving the incident only compounded when viral footage was released, bringing this young woman to turn to suicide to escape "the worst day of my life." My heart broke as a read this article, as a parent, as a woman, as a counselor, - I felt such sadness and rage, and all I could wish was that I could have lifted this young girl's shame if only for a moment to keep her from ending her life.
I consider the feelings that are still compounding from her parents, her friends, her teachers, possibly the boys involved or their parents- I can't imagine that we all don't wish we could have stepped in and released the powerful grip of uninvited, unnecessary, displaced shame that brought a lifetime to an early close. But, for whatever reason, this teenage girl reached out only to Facebook, with a simple post, containing a vague- yet profoundly sad tone.
The biggest shame so far in this story is that six teen boys found it less shameful to sexually assault, video, and release this footage, than for the victimized young girl to find strength to ask a beloved family member of friend or counselor for help.
In our digital, social media age, - too many of us can tap out a post, tweet, blog, email, text before we can speak with out vocal chords. Actually speaking takes time of at least two people's schedules, whether seconds, minutes or hours- requiring two people to step away from a class, meeting, show, game, etc. But in "voice to voice" exchange, some one can step in to help.
Our human frailty is not a social media, it is not a viral footage, it is not a post. Our human frailty is also not a shame that we should stay hidden in. Instead, it is our common bond of weakness and strength, that we take turns on each role, and help each other when each of our turns come around.
For all of us left standing in heartache of the fallout of her shame, let's ask more questions, look people in the eye, smile, nod, and talk; particularly with anyone who may be getting a sense is feeling down or not their regular self. It would be a shame if our voice of concern was quieter than the crime exposed.
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