choose empathy, not sympathy

The most powerful part of the 2016 Oscars was without a doubt the above performance by Lady Gaga of “Till It Happens To You” from the documentary The Hunting Ground. Watch it before you read the rest of this…

The song is essentially about victims survivors of sexual assault in American colleges. In the US 1 in 5 girls will be sexually assaulted before they finish their studies and 1 in 20 boys will experience the same. I assume the numbers would be quite similar in Australia. Frightening!

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The message to get out of this performance is exactly what the lyrics question,”Tell me how the hell could you know?” Victims of sexual assault and abuse, people addicted to drugs, alcohol, people suffering with a mental illness and those who’ve struggled with eating disorders are small groups in society. And although people on the outside can (and should) empathise for those people, support them through their battle and research the facts, saying statements like “I understand” or “It’ll get better” just aren’t acceptable and doesn’t really help the person whose struggling with a particular event, or issue. We’re all guilty of it, on some level and i’m convinced that when we say those things, we don’t mean no harm. But to the people in it, who’ve actually experienced these dark moments, you can’t fully wrap your head around how they feel.

Once you take this into account, you can just be there for the person, give them someone to vent to, to give them whatever support they ask of you and just empower and encourage them to keep going.

The song and performance also teaches us that if you have gone through a very similar experience (and come out the other side) it’s important and powerful to speak out on behalf of the people currently hurting. Of course this is only if you feel comfortable too. Everybody has a right to keep their stories private, and I can only imagine to continually talk about it, would be a nightmare. But if you can whether it’s as a musician/public figure like Lady Gaga, Lena Dunham or Kesha, a blogger or youtuber or just having a private conversation with someone who is presently struggling, it’s an extremely brave and impacting thing to do. Those people will often have more of a genuine affect. The survivors who came out at the end of the performance have sent out a strong message to viewers from all around the world, many of which would have been through similar situations and will likely be inspired by that.

I encourage anyone to use whatever outlets they have to speak out and raise awareness about the issues listed above or any cause you feel passionate about. And although you haven’t experienced these unfortunate circumstances, just remember that there is always a chance that one day you will understand how they feel.


 

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Simply Eclare is where I (Emily Simpson) express my thoughts, share the things that bring me joy, give awareness to things that are dear to me and try to inspire others
to live simply.

Twitter: @emily_cs
Instagram: @emilyclaresimpson

 

 

 

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