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One small thing makes a difference

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Sexual misconduct allegations against U.S. Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh, if nothing else, should serve as a primer for how bystanders should not behave. Some say allegations are nothing more than smear tactics to harm the nominee; others say the allegations demonstrate a pattern of behavior that make him unfit for the high court.

I will leave those arguments -- and the regurgitations of former President Bill Clinton's deeds -- to others. What I find most disturbing is the glee both sides are demonstrating as they share articles, memes and hateful rhetoric on social media. While this political circus travels across the nation, there are identifiable victims who are suffering. And some of that suffering is rooted in the indifference shown by society.

Whether the allegations against Kavanaugh are true or false, if you are making comments such as "boys will be boys," "it was 30 years ago," "why did SHE wait so long to come forward," or other things to diminish claims, please stop. You can support your political ideology without using minimizing language. There are victims -- real proven ones -- who have been subjected to the same doubts, scrutiny and blame; it is wrong.

October is National Domestic Violence Awareness Month. The National Coalition Against Domestic Violence offers this definition: "Domestic violence is the willful intimidation, physical assault, battery, sexual assault, and/or other abusive behavior as part of a systematic pattern of power and control perpetrated by one intimate partner against another. It includes physical violence, sexual violence, threats, and emotional abuse."

If you are a victim, services are available in El Dorado by calling the Turning Point hotline at 870-862-0929.

On average, nearly 20 people per minute are physically abused by an intimate partner in the United States. During one year, this equates to more than 10 million women and men, according to NCADV. Some other data: one in three women and one in four men have been victims of [some form of] physical violence by an intimate partner within their lifetime; on a typical day, there are more than 20,000 phone calls placed to domestic violence hotlines nationwide; and one in five women and one in 71 men in the United States has been raped in their lifetime. Almost half of female (46.7%) and male (44.9%) victims of rape in the United States were raped by an acquaintance.

The Center for Disease Control estimates that 420,000 women and 375,000 men in Arkansas have been victims of physical abuse, rape and/or stalking by an intimate partner at some time in their lives.

The National Resource Center on Domestic Violence recommends raising awareness and taking action, which in turn, promotes social change. NRCDV recommends the following for those who want to get involved. The suggestions are part of the organization's #1Thing campaign.

• Donate your time and/or money to support your local domestic violence program.

• Contact your representatives to let them know why federal programs are important for survivors.

• Use your privilege to speak up the next time you see or hear a microaggression.

• Hold your loved ones accountable when they tell a racist/sexist joke.

• Vote—federal, state, and local elections are all important.

• Offer support and stability to a child experiencing domestic violence. Simply being there can make a difference in that child’s life.

• Engage in regular self-care to promote your long-term sustainability in the movement.

• Tell someone they matter.

What will your one thing be? If you are not in a position to help or if you are not interested in getting involved, please don't engage in activities that promote harm. That's one thing we can all do.

Shea Wilson is the former managing editor of the El Dorado News-Times. Email her at melsheawilson@gmail.com. Follow her on Twitter @sheawilson7.

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