Now is the Time for Advocacy

What is the proper response to insult or injury? When faced with the grim reality of human misbehavior, the desire to hide a misdeed from public scrutiny often outweighs the necessity to shine a light upon an egregious incident. Think of the Rices and the NFL. Think of a board meeting, or a school conference that got out of hand. Ask the question: Who was harmed? The world is rife with examples of leaders turning their backs on individuals in need of advocacy. A rich tradition of victim-advocacy exists, but will this NFL-player’s actions lead to bold, dramatic change in order to end the perpetuation of domestic violence? I hope so. Any leader of an organization, in this case, the organization is a national professional football team, must reflect, on how company culture helps or harms employees. What services do companies provide for employees and their families who may be in need of assistance? More could be done to advocate for the vulnerable.

The NFL incident involving the couple who are embroiled in a national debate about domestic violence demonstrates how difficult it can be for women’s lived experience to be taken seriously. Yet, because this situation involves a male-dominated sport, a tremendous opportunity exists for all sports fans, men and women, to seize the day by standing against violence.

Sadly, the powerless victim often is made to feel guilty for existing, or simply for expressing needs. “Needs,” “needy,” “neediness,” are code for less than. It is time for advocates to state the truth about those individuals in need of assistance. The truth is this: Often the needy are the most courageous.

It is those in need who are often the first to speak up. Pay attention.