If you see something, say something.

We’ve heard it said; we’ve read it. 

But do we understand the magnitude of it?

An instance has come up where someone saw something and didn’t say something — and it cost a lot.

Southern Union student Aniah Blanchard has been missing for more than two weeks and this week a suspect in her disappearance was identified then arrested. 

News reports now say a witness identified the suspect, Ibraheem Yazeed, as forcing Blanchard into a vehicle against her will and driving off.

While I understand this person must be feeling an extreme amount of guilt right now, that guilt should’ve kicked in immediately. The witness saw something and should’ve said something but didn’t until now — when it may be too late.

Standing up and saying something now was the right thing to do. It’s always better late than never and this has provided room for advancements to be made in the case. 

But it should’ve been said when it happened. It could’ve made the world of a difference.

The blame game serves no purpose and this witness isn’t to blame for what may or may not have happened to this sweet girl. The perpetrator is. But I hope this witness can be at peace knowing coming forward now was the right thing to do. But I hope this person also learned a lesson and will speak up immediately next time.

It also serves as a lesson to the rest of us. If we see something, we have to say something. 

If something is going on under your own nose that isn’t right, tell someone.

Lake Martin Area United Way intern Teya Waites came to our office this week to share her story of how a local agency “saved her life.”

Her biological father and stepmother mentally and physically abused her starting at age 14. She was hated — for no reason at all — by the two people who are supposed to love her most.

“It started when I was a freshman in high school. My stepmom did not like me but liked by sister. That is where my problem started,” Waites said. “She got into my dad’s head. I was playing volleyball my sophomore year. They kicked me off the team. Thanksgiving rolls around, my birthday is just after that, we didn’t celebrate it. Christmas rolls around, I watched my siblings open presents. Christmas night we get back, they kick me out of my room so I am sleeping on the couch.”

Waites said after that, time at home was spent sitting in the floor facing a wall being told when to go to bed and wake up and how long she had to eat and clean up the kitchen before getting paddled.

She had a torn ACL/PCL and needed knee surgery but was told by her father and stepmother it was because was “fat” and needed to exercise and diet.

“Some of the exercises involved me on my knees with my hands above my head holding a 40-pound box,” Waites said. “I would just stay there. My arms would collapse most of the time. I also have asthma and they would make me run at least 3 miles each day. I lost the weight but never got the surgery. 

“These punishments kept going and going. I continued to sit on the floor. They told me, ‘You are not going anywhere in life. This is tough love. You are a bad daughter.’”

Waites said her father and stepmom framed her for possession of a controlled substance and got her arrested. That was ironically her start to a better life.

She ended up at the Tallapoosa County Girls Ranch and her house parents became her true parents. She’s 21 now and her life has been saved because a local agency helped her when she was in trouble.

Her story is amazing and you look at her now and can’t tell she’s been through anything. I admire her sweet soul so much and feel for others who may have gone through — or are going through — something similar.

But I can’t help but wonder if someone in Waites’ life saw the signs. She said she woke up and went to school each day — living a normal life — while she was going through all of this at home.

There must have been signs for a teacher, friend or other person to see. What if someone would’ve said something then? Would it have made a difference for Waites?

I don’t know, but I do know if there are things going on around you that need to be reported, you need to do so. It could save a life; it could better a life. 

It’s up to us to make this world a better place for future generations to come. Let’s do our part.

Santana Wood is managing editor of Tallapoosa Publishers Inc. She can be reached at santana.wood@alexcityoutlook.com