Local reports say a man died a hero after trying to help a woman who was sexually assaulted on a street in Arlington, Virginia. It is a tragic testimony of how women need good men to protect them from the bad.
On Thursday night, Patricio Salazar, 54, noticed as a man identified as Michael Nash, 27, was walking with a woman and suddenly began to sexually assault her. Instead of staying clear of danger, Salazar rushed in to help the woman but was beaten unconscious when Nash attacked him, according to police reports.
The suspect ran from the scene and tried to rob two people of a cellphone but failed when they fought back, reports said. He fled again and reportedly robbed another woman of her phone, but by this time police had been alerted and were able to apprehend him.
Meanwhile, Salazar was taken to the hospital, where he was pronounced dead. Nash is in jail, charged with forcible sodomy, abduction with intent to defile, and animate object sexual penetration, with other charges, such as homicide, pending.
This story sadly comes at a time when stories of sexual assault are circulating in relation to the Me Too movement and men are being cast as predators or presumed guilty without corroborating evidence. In this case, we don’t have just one man—the predator—but a good man who gave his life for a stranger. Salazar’s actions remind us of the good a man can do when faced with a crisis, and how honor and strength still beat in the heart of humanity.
Salazar’s sacrifice is proof of how necessary it is for men to protect women they know are in threatening situations. As we have learned from the accounts of many in the MeToo movement, people often know abuse is happening, but they stand by and do nothing because they are too concerned about their own interests.
It’s not enough simply to be aware that sexual assault happens. We need to follow Salazar’s example and act, even at risk to our own lives or interests. To encourage men to do this, society needs to create an environment in which men will be motivated, not dispirited, from taking such actions.
Pointing fingers at men in general, maligning the innocent, and riling up an angry mob that pits men against women doesn’t help. This only obfuscates the issues and fuses the well-meaning individual into a maligned male collective. When people are stigmatized, they are a lot less likely to sacrifice for those doing the stigmatizing.
The best thing women can do in light of the threat of sexual assault is to know that there are bad men mixed with the good and to do everything in their power to protect themselves against the bad—including not putting themselves into situations that expose them to risk of assault.
This, of course, isn’t always possible. A woman can’t anticipate danger in every instance. Given the uncertainties of life and the sad reality that bad men do indeed exist in this world, good men need to step up and see it as their duty to protect the weaker sex. And women need to let them by not maligning and accusing them as a group, thus hardening men against women, stripping away their natural instincts to protect and defend.
The more women in the Me Too movement increase the divide between the sexes with accusation and judgment, with anger and hostility, toward men as a group, the fewer Salazars there will be in this world. This would be an ironic consequence of a movement that started as a passionate call to awareness of threats women often face and hope of change.
Knowing about sexual assault should make us all more vigilant to do what is right—women guarding themselves and warning each other, men not abusing women, and, since we don’t live in a perfect world, good men stepping up to be the strong, sacrificial protectors women desperately need.