People Behaving Badly

By: Erin Rose Hennessy
I was assaulted last week.

Using those words makes the incident sound much worse than most people perceive it. I’m not most people. I have anxiety. One thing about anxiety is that it spins everything to being much worse and much more challenging than it really is. We even know it – anxious people are fully aware that their fears may not be logical – but that’s how it feels. Sometimes, it truly feels as if the world is ending.

So, last weekend, my bestie B. and I were headed out on a camping trip. I was so super, unbelievably excited about this trip that I didn’t sleep very well on Thursday night. So, I was already sleep deprived on Friday. By the time the end of the day came, I was walking home in an exhausted but exhilarated state of anticipation. We were going camping! I even forgot to be my usual hypervigilant self and be aware of the people I passed by on the street. Well, that’s the last time I do that in awhile.

As I was walking, I passed by two young teenage boys. All of a sudden, a Chipotle burrito came flying at my head. It connected. I jumped about five thousand feet and screamed. The boys ran away laughing like, well, teenage boys. I immedately went into crisis, panic, oh, my god the world is about to end mode. Most people would be upset, but I was beyond that. 

So, I went on my neighborhood’s Facebook group to explain what had just transpired. My hope was to find the little cretins’ parents so they could have a nice, long lecture on how to behave appropriately. I’m a childhood professional – I understand child development. Teenagers cross lines and make terrible choices. Heck, even I did and that shocks a lot of people! So, I wasn’t actually that angry with them so much as I was frightened, exhausted, and probably in shock.

What happened next is what really, really triggered a weekend (and then some) of anxiety. Most people on the page were nice enough, asking where it had happened and expressing their condolences. Some, however, chose to blame the victim. That’s right, they decided that I was at fault because some roustabouts had decided to use me for target practice. My offenses were numerous, but mostly boiled down to: I should have called the cops, I was wrong to use race in my descripton of the teenagers (admittedly, probably not the best idea in hindsight), and the fact that four adult men assaulted a poor woman six hours later was my fault because I could have stopped it by calling the cops on the young teenage boys.

I decided not to call the cops for many reasons, but one of them was the age. Neither of them looked like they were even in high school yet. I have friends who have kids that age. I just can’t see calling the cops on them. Telling their parents, definitely, but the cops? Teenagers do dumb stuff. I didn’t get the impression they were doing it to be mean. They were bored kids in the middle of the summer looking for a laugh.

This made me realize why so many crimes go unreported. Why so many people hesitate to blow the whistle. Especially those with anxiety, depression, or self-image issues. They’re afraid they will get blamed.

Compassion is a word I think this world could employ more often. Treat others how you want to be treated. If you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all. And the saying I grew up with: “You don’t have to like others. You have to love them.”

Love your fellow humans. Support them. Make our Earth a friendlier place.

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