How can I say this? Most of us had never heard of Samantha prior to her suicide, most of don’t live near her or have children in her school, most of us had never heard of Joseph Tarnopolski.
When a rape occurs, we point fingers and there is public outcry. Then we go back to our respective corners, life goes on and very little changes. Violence against women and girls is often viewed as a women’s issue, a problem for certain professionals to handle and solve, something that impacts “those people” and not us. Until we can all wrap our heads, arms and wallets around the fact that we have a serious social problem on our hands, we will stay stuck.
3. Call your local government officials – those that represent your local community, including those representing you at the state and national levels. Ask them about they have done in the past to support individuals who are victims of these crimes. Ask them what they intend to do about it now. Beyond the political rhetoric (no one will openly say that they don’t support victims) push for them to say exactly what they intend to do. Then hold them accountable.
4. Find out how your local law enforcement agency, county sheriff department, state police and city/county prosecutors react to reports of domestic violence, sexual assault and bullying. Find out how you can support their efforts or push them to change.
5. Contact the local media– let them know when you believe they miss the mark in their reporting or give them a pat on the back when they nail it.
6. Contact companies, businesses, advertising agencies, print media, etc. when they publish and/or sell products that openly promote violence against women. Refuse to buy these products for yourself or others. Refuse to buy from these businesses.
7. TALK to your children, grandchildren, nieces, nephews and other kids that you care about! Talk with them about violence in relationships. They need your help and support. They need education on these crimes, on gender equity, and on respect. They need to be listened to, loved and encouraged. They need to know that you are in their corner and will support them, even when there appears to be no hope.
Do something! We should all care about Samantha and all the others girls in our community that have been assaulted. Make her suicide your call to action. Be the glimmer of hope for others.