Tag Archives: bravery

Thank You, Brave Women

Whether Democrat or Republican, liberal or conservative – I have to believe whatever side you lean toward – you can agree with this. Assault of any form is not okay.

In our core, as humans, we know this to be true. Or at least, I surely hope so.

This isn’t a political issue – it’s a human issue.

Regardless of what you think about Brett Kavanaugh and Christine Blasey Ford – can we agree on the bravery of the women who have come forward in the past months to share their personal stories of sexual abuse and assault?

Can we agree it takes a tremendous amount of courage to publicly relive those moments of pain and suffering?

It saddens me to say, most women I know can tell about about a time in their life when they have felt sexually violated. Some have openly shared their stories with many – others with only a select few.

Tragically, these tales of abuse are far too common. Do you know what else is far too common? The silence. What else? The belief that the victim somehow did something to cause this to happen. The belief that she is at fault for the abuse suffered at the hands of another person.

When people ask why someone did not come forward sooner, I have to believe they have never been a victim of sexual abuse themselves. Because if you have, sadly, you understand all too well why it would take someone so long. You also understand why someone may choose to never come forward, but instead to keep their stories buried deep within – never to be spoken aloud to another soul.

Because when the victim finally has the courage to tell their story, and when the words are finally spoken – the response of those listening has the potential to be devastating. And I believe it is this potential that keeps so many from speaking.

Imagine this scenario: You are finally ready to share your story. You open your mouth. The images flash before your eyes. The words fall out and fill the open space between you and the person with whom you are openly reliving this life-altering moment. And what happens? Nothing. Even worse, what if they don’t believe you? What if they mock you? What if they insult your family, and your loved ones? What about your children? How will they suffer because you have come forward with this truth?

This is a he-said/she-said situation and without proof (which is usually the case) the victim is called a liar (in so many words), or asked what she did to cause the attack to happen in the first place?

Kind of makes sense, doesn’t it? In a world where there seems to be a double standard for sexual conduct. Boys will be boys, right? Boys receive fist-bumps and high-fives for their sexual prowess while girls are labeled “easy” and “slutty.”

I hope this is not how most would respond. I hope the response of most would be shared tears. A warm embrace. A thank you for the courage it took to come forward, and for the trust it took to share. An I’m sorry you went through this. I’m sorry you suffered in silence. I’m sorry you felt you had to hold that inside for so long.

I have three daughters and my hope is that, when it comes to sexual abuse, they will grow up in a world that is vastly different than the one where I grew up.

I want them to know that no matter how they dress, or what they say, or if they have one too many drinks some evening – that doesn’t mean they are asking for it.

I want them to know that “no” and “stop” mean exactly that. It doesn’t matter if they yell it, speak it, or barely whisper it. Those words are definitive. They are black and white. There is no gray looming anywhere in between those words. If someone hears those words and chooses not to listen – they are wrong. Point blank.

I want them to know that if they should ever ask a boy up to their room one evening, and then decide they want him to leave – he needs to leave. I want them to know that even if they have messed around with this boy before, that doesn’t give him free reign to her use her body however, and whenever, he would like. I want them to know that if, God forbid, something ever happens to them – that it isn’t their fault.

I not only want this for my daughters, I want this for all women. And men. Because men can be victims of sexual abuse, too. Let’s not forget that.

And for my son – I want him to grow up in a world where women are cherished, valued and respected. One where they are no longer viewed as sexual objects. I want him to know how to treat women and how to stand up for what is right. I want him to grow up in a world where the “boys will be boys” mentality is a thing of the past.

I believe one of the beautiful things to come from the #MeToo movement is seeing the avalanche affect. One woman comes forward and it empowers another, and another, and another, and another. Suddenly, we are not alone. Suddenly, we have found our voices. The thought that nobody will believe me is now replaced with hope. The thought that it was my fault is now replaced with the knowledge and understanding that it was not my fault. The second-guessing and wondering are replaced with confidence.

When one person finds their voice – so does another. 

Thank you, brave women, for coming forward. Thank you for being willing to relive moments that I would imagine have haunted you for years. Thank you for having the courage to come forward, even with the knowledge that you may be publicly ridiculed and picked apart for sharing your truth. Thank you for having the strength to face very powerful and influential people in our society. Thank you to the friends and family members of the victims who stand boldly by their side while very possibly enduring insults of your own. Thank you for giving so many of us hope. Thank you for helping us find the courage to share our own stories. Thank you for helping us find our voices.

Thank you for starting a conversation that needed to be started long ago.

Whether Democrat or Republican, liberal or conservative – I have to believe whatever side you lean toward – you can agree with this. Assault of any form is not okay.

This post is not political. This post is about gratitude. Gratitude to those who have been brave enough to share their story. This post is not liberal. This post is about hope. Hope for a different future for my children. Hope for change. 

Thank you, brave women for coming forward. Thank you for reshaping our future.

Thank you.

#MeToo

 

 

 

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We Will Never Forget

Yesterday, my oldest asked me if I remembered where I was when I heard about the attacks on the World Trade Center. She said a teacher had told her there are moments in history when most people can remember exactly where they were and what they were doing when they heard the news.
 
September 11, 2001, is one of those moments in history. Yes, honey. Yes. I remember. I will always remember.
 
Like most, I remember where I was, what I was doing and even what I was wearing. I remember the fear I felt and the overwhelming desire to get home to be with, and to hug, the people I loved. 
 
We didn’t have televisions in our office, but we had a radio playing. I remember standing by the filing cabinet when I heard the news that the first tower had been hit.
For a brief period of time, it seemed like it was an accident. It had to be an accident. Right?
And then the second tower was hit, and the reality this was no accident struck. Hard. It seemed we were at war.
I remember walking dazed and scared to the cafeteria and seeing the footage play on the television. It was so much worse than I had imagined. 
 
I remember the shock. The horror.
 
I remember watching in dread as people jumped to their death from the smoky buildings. I remember watching the footage and hearing the sound as bodies hit the ground. Tears rolled down my cheeks. These were  loved ones. Moms. Dads. Grandparents. Children. These people. These poor people.
I remember watching as the second plane hit. I remember the images of people covered in ash running. Some walking. It was chaos. It was horrible. But I couldn’t stop listening. And watching. And wondering. And waiting. What would be next? The Pentagon. The crash in Pennsylvania. It felt like it would never end. What else would be hit? I had never felt so unsafe in my country.

That night, my boyfriend (who is now my husband) and I drove to a local church. At that time in our lives we hadn’t been attending church regularly, but we knew we wanted to be with others who believed in God. We wanted to be in prayer. It was dark when we walked up to the church. The Priest was getting ready to leave when we walked up. Others were walking up, too. We weren’t alone in our need to be somewhere with others. We didn’t know what to do, but we knew we wanted to do something. Anything. In that moment, gathering with strangers in front of a church seemed like the only something we could do. In retrospect, when I don’t know what to do – gathering with others to pray is always a good start. 
The Priest stood with us outside, held our hands and prayed.
 
Over the next weeks, the images played over and over and over again. And people were scared. So scared. I will never forget the eery silence outdoors when all flights were canceled and the fear I felt when they resumed. I remember hearing a plane fly overhead, looking up and thinking – things will never be the same, again. 

Life did return to normal, but it was a post 9/11 normal. 
We each carry memories and stories from that day. Some watching and listening from a radio or television. Some seeing the tragedy unfold before their eyes from a distance. And others who were there. Those who survived.
Whatever your story, the memories from that day will always be with us.
The images of heroes rushing back into the flaming, smoking buildings – sacrificing their lives for the lives of complete strangers. The images of the heroes lifting the flag to the sky on a mound of rubble. The images of family members crying as they held up signs showing faces and names of missing loved ones. The images of the buildings going down. Knowing precious lives were lost.
Thank you to the men and women who gave their lives for the lives of others. Thank you for your bravery. Thank you for your incredible sacrifice. Thank you to the heroes then, and the heroes now.
You will never be forgotten.
 
September 11, 2001. We will never forget!
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