“I bet he likes you.”
Girls, how many times have you heard this line? For me, as soon as I read it, I immediately flashback to the first time I remember hearing it—I was in second grade and a boy held me underwater at a swim birthday party. When I came up crying and gasping for air, his mom told me “He was just playing, I bet he likes you!” instead of apologizing for what her son was really doing—bullying.
Unfortunately, over a decade later, not much has changed. As I was doing my morning media routine, I came across a heartbreaking article on the Cosmopolitan Magazine Twitter.
A 4-year-old girl was hospitalized last week because a boy at school beat her up. Her injuries were severe enough that she suffered not only facial bruising but also needed multiple stitches. And what was the hospital employee’s reaction to all of this? “I bet he likes you.”
Unsurprisingly, this comment came from a man at the registration desk at the children’s hospital. Before people rush to his defense with comments along the lines of, “he was probably just trying to make her feel better," let me ask you this—what benefit do young girls get from being taught at a young age that if someone cares about you, hurting you is an acceptable way to show it? What about that is supposed to make her feel better?
Those five words are loaded, to say the least. Looking a 4-year-old girl in the eyes as she is crying, in an emergency room, in pain and saying that statement perpetuates a plethora of damaging stereotypes.
First of all—it is an excuse for bullying. Whether you are four years old or 40 years old, putting your hands on another human being is unacceptable. I find it hard to imagine that anyone can contradict that statement.
Second of all—it is an excuse for abuse. It is irrelevant whether a boy has a crush on you, is your boyfriend, or your husband. The moment that someone hits you—or attempts to hurt you in anyway—is the moment that a relationship becomes unhealthy. There is never an excuse for your partner attempting to intentionally hurt you—physically or otherwise.
Third of all—it is illogical. How does that make sense? A boy likes me, so he hits me? I remember when I was in second grade after I was bullied, hearing something along the lines of “He is embarrassed and doesn’t want his friends to make fun of him for being nice to a girl. He doesn’t know how to show it any other way!” Really? Whether you are a 4-year-old on the playground, an 8-year-old in the pool, or a grown man behind closed doors—a man’s insecurity is never an excuse for his violent behavior.
Just as Merrit Smith, the little girl's mother stated, I am not attempting to shame the other child involved in this event at all. Writing an article aimed to attack a 4-year-old would make me exactly what I am speaking out against—bullies. I am attempting to speak to a larger issue here. The mindset that “hurting is flirting” is a damaging one to say the least.
Put an end to bullying and put an end to Domestic Violence. If you or anyone you know needs help, don't wait another moment. For more information, visit the National Domestic Violence hotline and the website to the National Stop Bullying Effort.