The Risks and Rewards of Speaking Up


  • Education
  • Parenting
  • Leadership
  • Guide
  • Middle School
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  • Parents
  • Teenage
  • Head of Schools
  • Administrators

How to evaluate the risks and rewards of speaking up  

“I lost my church. I lost my closest friends as a result of advocating for survivors who had been victimized by similar institutional failures in my own community. I lost every shred of privacy.” Racheal Hollander reveals that she paid a high price for taking on Larry Nassar. Really?

Racheal, you are a hero and a role model. Often, we must weigh our losses against our gains.

Loss of friends, church, and privacy; but what did Racheal really gain?

Racheal gained self-respect. She restored trust and confidence in herself. She begins her healing process by helping others. It took Racheal H. twenty years to speak up about the abuse and assault of Larry Nassar.

  1. Can you imagine carrying this secret for twenty years without justice and any resolution?
  2. Can you imagine the guilt of knowing that other innocent and vulnerable children are still being abused and you are doing nothing?
  3. Can you imagine the trauma, anxiety, and scars that are yet to heal?

Yes, I’m sure Racheal perceived those to be the collateral damage of speaking up.

But in reality, Racheal had no good alternative if she wanted to forge ahead with her life and function as a healthy human being.

  1. Speaking up helped her begin her healing process.
  2. Confronting her abuser is helping her to repair the pain.
  3. Helping others in similar situations helps her to empower others to overcome her own trauma.

Speaking up restores self-esteem and self-respect. It restores trust and confidence to lead a more meaningful and happier life.

Speaking up raises awareness and helps you to know you are not alone. People often are followers and not leaders. So, if you lead the pack, others will follow. When others follow, justice can be achieved. Justice provides society with trust, stability, and confidence that the system works to make it a better place for all.

I encourage you all to speak up and never remain complicit. In some situations, we just do not have good alternatives.

Speaking up is risky. Accepting risk entails anxiety, pain, and uncertainty. Taking a risk is an essential component for self-development, growth, and a meaningful life. A meaningful life leads to happiness.

If you do not speak up, you lose your self-esteem. You feel like a failure. You feel powerless and isolated. You become depressed and lack any motivation to do anything. You lose trust and confidence in the system. You are stuck in misery and your trauma.

So, which is the better alternative?

Do you want silence to kill you slowly, or do you speak up to cure your illness and help others around you?

Do you want to act as a victim or a victor?

Silence shapes you as a victim. Speaking up shapes you as a victor.

Racheal may not have foreseen all the risks and exposure associated with her taking on Nassar. But Racheal is no longer a victim, she is now a victor! Winning her life back! She gained more than she lost!

Take action! Do not let silence’s cancer infect you and your relationships. When it matters, and you are being violated:

  1. Speak up and share your story.
  2. Express how it made you feel.
  3. Request a just and immediate resolution.
  4. If you encounter resistance:
    • Find an advocate and supporters.
    • Document all communications in writing.
    • Share your story to find other ones in similar situation.
    • Get legal advice.
    • Reach out to media.
    • Post on social media.
    • Keep persisting.
    • Inform the various boards and organizations.
    • Send letters.
  5. Persist until you get satisfactory results!

Silence and politically correct rhetoric is a cancer infecting our relationships and society. When the cancer is not contained, it deepens our distress and trauma causing slow death to our soul and happiness.



Dear Parents:  

Do you want to raise a confident and self-reliant child?

It starts with you. You must be role model for your children, and they will follow. Be responsible and respond with love and understanding:

  1. Gather and document the facts.
  2. Validate your child’s feelings and needs.
  3. Ask your child for a satisfactory solution.
  4. Confront the issue with all parties.
  5. Communicate your child’s emotions and needs.
  6. Charge ahead to support them with highest integrity.
  7. Never give up. Because when you give up, you fail them.

Often, we parents focus on our social status, business, or relationships. Making waves and shaking the status quo creates instability. Yes, but advocating for your kids is essential to their well-being, safety, and self-confidence.

When you remain silent, you are simply saying that others are more important than your child, and you care more about others than your children.

Young children will resent their parents and harbor anger. As they get older, they will care more about others than you!

Be a role model and they will follow!




To the heads of schools, principals, presidents, board members, and those in power: 

What do you do when a violation is reported?

  1. Engage in vague, evasive, and passive aggressive communication styles?
  2. Prolong the resolution hoping the problem will go away?
  3. Bully the victims to silence them?
  4. Get scared that scandal will hurt your reputation?

If you answered YES to any of the above questions:

You are guilty! You should be held personally accountable. You fail our kids. You traumatize our kids. And you fail our society.  

If you reading this, here is your wake-up call. Gain insight before it is too late:

  1. Prolonging the resolution is one of the factors that causes victims suffer trauma. In some cases, it is not the violation itself, but it is your complicit style of leadership that traumatizes our kids.
  2. If you care more about reputation and donations than our kids’ safety and well-being, then you must quit. Become a fund raiser or a public relation advocate. Our kids need to trust you to enforce rules and guidelines when they are violated. But if you are too weak to adhere to your own written protocol and follow the law, then, it’s time to say goodbye.
  3. Instead of helping develop self-reliant and confident kids, you breach trust and break their confidence.

If You Cannot Lead You Must Quit!

If you want to lead, take action:

  1. Fulfill your roles and responsibilities.
  2. Attend to the needs of the victims.
  3. Report the incident objectively.
  4. Adhere to rules, guideline, and code of conduct.
  5. Satisfy victims’ needs to help them overcome pain and anxiety.
  6. Immediately and justly enforce the penalty on the violators.

You are not doing a favor to the violator either. You prolong their agony as well and allow them to become the cancer and poison to society. When violators get away with their horrific acts, they become more evil. You are now an accomplice to all those evil acts.

There is risk in everything we do. If we speak up, there is a risk. If we remain silent there is a risk. At times, either alternative has collateral damage.

Bottom-line, the key to happiness is first to be happy with yourself. Being happy does not mean pain-free. Being happy does not mean risk-free. It simply means, we must accept risk and pain for long term gain. Assuming risk and pain when it matters is the key to a life with meaning. A meaningful life leads to happiness. It is empowering and liberating.

Racheal Hollander’s short-term losses were relatively small compared to her exponential long-term gain.

Racheal can replace her church with ease. She can find real friends. And she can leverage the loss of privacy by empowering others and doing good!

We need more Racheals! You are my hero!

Speak up assertively and act responsibly!

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