Tuesday, May 16, 2017

What Does It Take To Be An Advocate Against Sexual Abuse?

It Is Not As Hard As You Think... Eventually

Frankly, most of it involves reading- news articles, studies, pages with statistics (and verifying that they are correct by hunting down the source), and above all... speaking up! It is not the advocating that will scare you, it is standing up and saying something. The most difficult part of being an advocate is that first step you take where you see a problem with something someone says, or a comment on a news article, and you say something. That first step is hard, but it gets easier and easier with time. Before you take that step, you do need to decide... will you use your real name, or will you use a pseudonym?

Why is that first step hard? Because you are never sure how your statement will be perceived. If you say anything remotely critical of sex offender policies- bam. You are now labeled as a defender of sex offenders, even if you have all the research in the world to back it up. Criticize mandatory reporting, because it means less children and abusers get help to avoid more abuse? You are against getting the police involved, and therefore support sex abuse. No matter what you say, there will be a troll out there who can and will hassle you for it. Everyone has an opinion, especially on the internet. What matters is having the guts to say it anyway.

The Tools In Your Toolbox

The tools you have available to you, and the ability to use them proficiently, will make or break your ability to advocate against abuse. The first tool in your toolbox that you must be able to wield with expert care is balancing your advocacy and not biting off more than you can chew. There is always, always something you can be doing... and the work will never end. No matter how you choose to get involved, you may hear stories that keep you up at night, you may receive comments that totally sideline your thinking... no matter what happens, your work will affect you, and you need to be prepared to take a step back, put it down, and relax.

At the same time, you need to know when to keep talking, even when people are trying to shout you down, and when to just shut up. That is your second tool: The wisdom to know when to say something and when it would not be helpful. There is no guidebook to follow, just your own instinct. This tool gets honed with experience- and making mistakes will happen.

A tool you may not know about is a handy feature of Microsoft Word, and other word processors may have it also: Mail merge. With a mail merge, you can type up a single document, then make a list in Microsoft Excel (or any spreadsheet program compatible with the word processor) of who you want to email (with Outlook, or other email program compatible with the word processor) to a large group of people, yet individualized to each person. You can add more than just names- what department or committee they belong to, their official title, a greeting honorific, etc. Just be aware that some organizations (like politicians that you are not a constituent of) may frown on these, and if not done sparingly, you may get flagged for spam.

Another handy tool is a blog or website, which may sound hard to do, but modern tools like Wix, Zoho, Blogger, Wordpress, and others have made it easier. You do not need to know HTML coding to create a blog or website, and you can do many things with a blog or website. However, by far the most useful tool in your toolbox are...

Keyboard Shortcuts

Yes, those marvelous little tricks that can save so much time. Here is a handy list that I use all the time (presuming that you use Windows):
  • CTRL+K: Insert hyperlink
  • CTRL+C/V: Copy/paste
  • CTRL+Z/Y: Undo/Redo
  • CTRL+B/I/U: Bold/Italicize/Underline
  • CTRL+F: Find (works in web browsers/documents/PDF's, if you want to search for a keyword)
  • ALT+TAB: Switch between windows
  • ALT+F4: Close whatever window you are in
  • I am sure you can find more...
The point being, if you advocate, yes, a desktop or laptop computer is your best friend- particularly a Windows laptop/desktop. And yes, I have almost no experience with Apple these days, so I could very well be wrong in pointing you to Windows.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Comments are moderated to ensure a safe environment to discuss the issues and difficult content in this blog.