We know that every time there is a high-profile story about intimate partner violence, survivors are watching. They’re watching the news, listening to their favorite radio stations, scrolling through comments, seeing the memes that show up on their social media feeds. But most of all, they’re watching their loved ones — their friends, family, coworkers, classmates, faith communities — to see what they are saying. Watching to see if this person is someone they can tell, maybe for the first time, and if this person is someone who will listen to and believe them.
Celebrities like Johnny Depp and Amber Heard will probably never see or read the comments, GIFs, memes, and posts we share on our personal social media feeds. They won’t hear the offhand comment we make to a colleague as we’re waiting for the elevator or the joke that a teammate makes in the locker room. But the survivors in our lives — the ones we know about and the ones we aren’t aware of — they do see. They hear everything. They feel everything.
So, as we are reading and scrolling through all the updates on today’s verdict — or the next story that comes along — please remember this. Please remember that there is someone we love who has carried their story and the additional weight of the shame and stigma that surrounds intimate partner violence. Please remember that we have an opportunity to remind survivors who may or may never share their stories with us that there are people who will listen to and believe them without judgment, without stigma, without shame.
If you or someone you know needs to talk to someone, REACH is here to listen and believe.