An Open Letter to the Boastful Abuser at the Car Dealership

Dear Abuser.

I’m not sure why you chose to have your conversation in the lounge of the car dealership, yet here we are. I listened as you justified grabbing a woman by her wrist, twisting her around, and shoving her away using her throat as a handle. While I couldn’t possibly know the victim’s side of the story, nor could I hear the other side of your dramatic conversation, I can’t think of any situation where assaulting a woman could be considered reasonable, even as I heard you persistently argue that “She should have known better.”

I’m studying victimology and my current area of study is violence against women. You checked all the boxes for the classic perpetrator on the Power and Control Wheel. You’re a victim-blamer ( you said that she came at you first and while you’re clearly at least 220lbs, you don’t like being ‘startled,’ you said) You’re an intimidator. “If someone’s gonna play with me, they gonna know I play rough,” you said. You’re a minimizer. You dismissed the impact of your actions by stating that ” I wasn’t trying to hurt her. I was raised up rough, so that’s just how I am.”

I’m curious as to why you felt it necessary to speak as loudly as you did; did you want us to hear your side of this twisted story? Were you looking for an ally with the ‘bros’ in the shop? Instead of keeping the conversation between yourself and the person who was challenging your actions, you were loud and obnoxious, doing nothing to create any type of alliance.

As much as I was disgusted by the pride with which you spoke of how you “showed her who was boss,” I was equally dismayed by the response–or lack thereof– of the two employees in the dealership; one being the service manager, who acted like nothing was amiss. This is why violence against women continues to be perpetrated; other men aren’t holding people like you accountable. In his Ted Talk about violence against women being a man’s problem, Jackson Katz described the role of the bystander. It’s not a passive role; it’s meant to be active and courageous. Even when I looked imploringly at the service manager in the hopes that he would tell you to take it outside, he did nothing. This would have been a perfect opportunity for another man to say that your kind of behaviour isn’t acceptable and bragging about it in public isn’t tolerable.

Luckily, my dealership sends out surveys for their valued customers to complete, to rate the service. You can bet that I will be speaking out against their cowardly silence.

To you? You don’t strike me as an intellectual or someone who’s into self-reflection, so I don’t hold a lot of hope that these words would reach your path, or that you will consider your actions and words as archaic and cowardly.

My hope is that someone who believes in supporting and protecting women reads this and that they share it with their son, their grandson, or any young man they care about. We need men to speak up; it’s not simply a women’s problem.

Sincerely,

A woman who knows her worth.

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