The Bystander

I have found that social issues have been preoccupying my mind; foremost amongst these: domestic violence.
I think of the people suffering this in silence.
I wonder about those of us who might find ourselves bystanders.
What can we do when we suspect this happening?
This is the first draft of my first poem on this topic.
In this one I am concerned to ask the ‘victim’ what do you need me to do.
This first poem I wanted to be plain speaking, direct address to the victim
What do you want me to do?
I think there will be more, as I do more background research.

Tell me how to help you
I see you look so sad

I can see it in your eyes
The way he makes you lie

I can see the strong control
He makes me stay away

Yet I want to be your friend
And if you want
help you runaway

But this week there are bruises
You ran into a door?
I feel this can’t be true
I feel it in my bones

Tell me how to be the friend you need
Not making you leave or stay
But simply feel that
whatever decision made
You know you will be

Maybe I know a phone number
A safe house
A social worker
You can go to

Maybe I call the police when
I hear violence through the wall
Maybe I make the call
And stop being a bystander
Who in the future feels guilt when the

Truth comes tumbling out

Flashing lights of ambulances
Reporters interviewing neighbours
And people saying,
‘If only someone had helped’
‘We never knew’
‘They always seemed so happy’
‘ . . .Well most of the time, but
there were signs’

(c) Word and Image June Perkins


Domestic Violence hotlines can be found here


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