Bystanders Thwart Attempted Rape In Stroudsburg

Dear Engaged Bystander: I love this headline because it celebrates the power of what two women can do to protect others. It is an amazing story too since two young women left the comfort of their apartment to help someone they did not know.

Here is what they said in the article: " I heard a panic scream. Like a help kind of yell." "When I got to my window I saw a man on top of a young girl." The two friends then rushed outside... to stop it.

Here is what they did: "I remember pulling him and then pushing him on the ground... like throwing him on the ground." The woman says he got up and started to run away... she went after him... while the other woman called 911.

It is incredible to read about these empowered young women. I am so glad that they are being celebrated for what they did and I am so so glad that they did not get hurt while they were helping the other young woman.

It's a great story and great coverage. I just wish that the ending of the article did not put all of the responsibility back on the woman walking alone rather than with a friend. Here is the last statement: The women are relieved they were able to help... but say this should serve as a warning to others.
"You should definitely be accompanied when you're walking alone. There's no reason for you to go by yourself."

Certainly that is one strategy. But read the rest of the article closely:

The man got away... but the women were able to give police a description. They say it was the same man who was making unwanted advances towards them earlier in the night. "Just by judging the back of the man I knew it was the guy that was following us at the bar." "He made me feel really uncomfortable. He made me feel really scared."

What is not suggested here is that there were opportunities for interventions earlier in the evening. If he was making these young women uncomfortable in the bar, maybe the bar can set up a way for the staff to intervene when these boundaries are crossed. Maybe some men observed the behavior and intervened before it began to escalate. We do that kind of intervention around drinking and driving. We ask the bar to cut off the profits from someone who has been drinking too much. Why not cut the privilege of being at the bar if someone violates someone's boundaries to the point where "He made me feel really scared."?

I do advocate for women to think carefully about their safety and self defense. But as a movement, I believe we need to go further and have all of us take some responsibility in these situations.