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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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