When Sarah Beaulieu’s delivered a TEDx talk in 2016 on the topic of sexual violence, the talk received such response she started an organization: Uncomfortable Conversation. A few months ago, Sarah hosted a screening of Uncomfortable Conversation videos at HBO (Home Box Office) headquarters in Manhattan, followed by a panel discussion and engagement with the filled auditorium.
What Sarah is attempting to achieve is to help all of us talk our way through those difficult moments that could take a turn and become violent. It is through training that we learn these skills. It’s what Diana Wege’s NICE program is attempting to do in schools. Helping students learn how to work through difficult situations.
We wanted to share with you a blog Sarah recently posted:
“Yesterday, I got on a train to head home and walked into the middle of a brewing altercation between two men.
I’m sure you’ve seen something like this before, right? An aggressive, angry person picks a target and a fight.
You can probably guess what happened next. I intervened. I struck up a conversation with the person being targeted and engaged several other women around me as well. Together we let him know we saw what had happened and didn’t think it was okay. And we offered to walk him off the train, away from the aggressor.
Other than the four of us, there were probably about two dozen people on the train who witnessed what happened and stayed completely silent.
Honestly, I don’t blame them. The threat of physical violence is all too real, and scary to people of all genders. I was terrified the whole time. There’s no way to know whether an aggressor has a weapon or an intention to hurt as many people as they can. But I also knew that the bystanders are the ones with the power, especially when we band together. And I’d had a chance to practice the simple conversation skills, so I was prepared to use them, even in a stressful and scary way.
My intervention on the train was textbook bystander intervention. I’ve been trained in it, and the training actually works. If your school or employer hasn’t trained you in it, you don’t have all the tools you need to keep the people in your work or campus community safe.”