A lot of people have done a very amazing thing

This post was written by an anonymous reader:

My friend has been abused in her home for years now. She’s isolated by her abusers; threatened and bullied into keeping quiet; kept away from friends or officials who might help. She had the courage to start whispering. At the school gate, to other mums who seemed friendly. I say courage, because we were strangers to her, totally cut off from and ignorant of her horrible isolated world. But whispering was all she could do. So she did it. And we listened, but we were powerless to act: the woman herself needs to give the signal, she needs to be the one to ask for help. We got lots of great advice from the domestic abuse hotline, from a wonderful charity (and from wonderful feminist philosophers!), but no one could actually do anything until she asked. And she couldn’t. She had literally no way to speak without endangering herself.

Three days ago, she found her chance. She had a doctor’s appointment. And she whispered to the doctor. And, certainly betraying all my pessimistic expectations, the doctor listened and acted. Her doctor rang the police. The police immediately started working; the school got involved to help; the charity and the domestic abuse hotline chipped in. There was an amazing whirlwind of planning and information-gathering and coordinating over the course of 24 hours. And then it just happened: smoothly, calmly and quietly, as if it were nothing (when in fact it was a whole life to this woman) they whisked her away. She got out. She’s out!

I’m a bit afraid of her abusers, too. I don’t ever want them to know my role. So, I need to keep quiet. But I want desperately to say thank you to her GP, and the head teacher, and the police, and social services, and the domestic abuse hotline, the friends who gave advice and the mums who donated clothes. A lot of people—a lot of strangers—have done a very amazing thing this week.

Since I can’t say thank you, could you? If you know a police officer, or a teacher, or a doctor, or a charity worker or social worker, or indeed anyone who does amazing things for strangers, shake their hand for me today. Tell them I say thank you.

6 thoughts on “A lot of people have done a very amazing thing

  1. Truly beautiful, my eyes filled with tears. I just really hope this woman will be able to build a new, good life for herself.

  2. Me too. The fact that so many people came together to do this amazes me. I hope people will continue to come together to help her build a new life.

  3. “we were powerless to act: the woman herself needs to give the signal, she needs to be the one to ask for help… Three days ago, she found her chance. She had a doctor’s appointment. And she whispered to the doctor… Her doctor rang the police.”

    I’m a little confused. The doctor did something any of the friends or other mothers could have done (phone the police), so what made the difference? If it’s that the doctor ignored the idea that ‘she needs to be the one to ask’, then why praise the doctor without criticising the inactive friends? If it’s that the victim chose to ask the doctor to phone the police, but hadn’t asked the friends, why is it described as ‘finding her chance’? Or is the doctor somehow better placed to act? Sorry if I’m being dense.

  4. I take it that being alone with the doctor in the doctor’s room meant that the doctor could ask her whether or not she wanted the police involved. The story says the friends only ever saw her at the school gate. There wouldn’t have been enough time to go through all the ins and outs and ramifications in those few short minutes whilst waiting for their children.

    Friends I know who work with domestic abuse charities suggest it can be a bad idea to involve the police unless the person concerned has asked for it. If the abused person isn’t ready or able to leave the abusive situation, calling the police can make matters worse.

  5. “There wouldn’t have been enough time to go through all the ins and outs and ramifications in those few short minutes whilst waiting for their children.”

    Ah, I see. Thanks.

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