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White Ribbon Day – November 25th 2010

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Simply put, White Ribbon Day, focuses on eliminating violence against women and girls by men or boys.   It’s a pretty simple concept that I agree with. I became a White Ribbon Ambassador, and, made a committment at http://www.myoath.com.au/    Check out the website and make a committment too.

But it’s not just committing to not being violent against women, it is that you will SPEAK UP if necessary.

I’ve shared my values with a few of my mates. Basically, I don’t want them to put me in a position of having to ‘protect’ them. Some guys think they can do anything and then I, and others, shouldn’t say anything – but then the onus has been transferred to me!   I say the them, “Don’t you put me in this position”. It isn’t dobbing. If they can’t toe the line, I’m not their bail ticket.     

An old  mate who I’d known for over 25 years, Alan, had been verbally abusive to his wife of just 8 months or so, and her daughter, during my visits.    At the time, I was too stupid to say anything.   In hindsight I should’ve simply said, “Alan, ease up, that’s not right”. It wasn’t my problem to solve,  but it was my responsibility to speak up if she was being abused.  And it’s not just relating to violence against women.

I once had a friend at work who would nick off early. But as his manager I had to haul him over the coals for it. He said to me, “I thought you were my friend”. My reply was simple. “I thought you were my friend, and if you were, you wouldn’t have put me in this situation.”

If a guy wants to play up on his wife – someone I know, don’t expect me to ‘keep it quiet’ from her. If I’m going to be looking her in the eye, mate,  don’t put me in the awkward position.   And it happened to me too. The abusive Alan mentiioned above, began an affair with my wife.   Later when I found out, he was puzzled why I wouldn’t ‘get over it’. He tried to make it my fault that our friendship fractured.   “If you were my friend, Alan, you wouldn’t have put my in this situation.”

The funny thing is, I heard Alan tell my wife he loved her, on the night he proposed to his wife! I simply dismissed it as ‘beer talk’, but I should have said something there and then. I didn’t want to spoil their night in front of 100 people. I was his best friend at that night. Yet, he shouldn’t have put me in that position. If the night turned sour, it was his fault not mine.

Over many years, I’ve not spoken up about lot’s of things, things that I should have.   “Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.” Martin Luther King

There are all sorts of reasons why we should speak up. White Ribbon Day is just one.

Rodney Lovell