Together we’ve been watching the ongoing headlines unfold about the #metoo movement, as brave women (and men) have boldly stepped forward to share their stories of sexual abuse, harassment, and assault. One particularly painful story continues to be in the news as over 100 gymnasts came forward in court to speak their truth and confront Dr. Nassar, the U.S.A. Gymnastics doctor, who sexually abused these women over the course of several years. Now, this sick human being will face the rest of his days in prison, thanks to a sentence that fits the crime. But this army of survivors will spend the rest of their days haunted by the trauma they endured.
In all these cases, both the parents and the victims of sexual abuse trusted his authority as a prestigious doctor and were betrayed in the unfolding nightmare that continued for years. How does this happen? It’s all unfathomable, outrageous, and heartbreaking.
And then I think of you…
I think about how your dad and I trust your coaches and doctors and teachers and we also believe you understand that no one should ever touch you in any inappropriate way, but would you think an authority figure in your life has the power to do such a thing?
Oh, my beautiful girl, NO ONE has that authority. NO ONE has that right. EVER.
You must speak up if anyone- adult or friend, family member or doctor, coach or teacher- violates your body, makes any verbal or physical sexual advances, or threatens to harm you in any way. No matter what that person says or does to keep you silent, don’t stay silent. Please come to us. Your dad and I will believe you. We will stand up for you and do everything in our power to keep you safe. And if the moment comes unexpectedly and you don’t know what to do?
You fight like hell to stop it from happening. You have our permission to defend yourself in any way you can to stop anyone from harming you.
You are growing into a beautiful young woman, and there are risks you will face simply because of that. This male-dominated culture has been at odds with women’s rights for generations, but the road is freshly paved with hope and recognition that change has come. The #metoo and #timesup movements have given you and all women a gift. You have been granted the opportunity to have a voice that can be heard and affirmed. This is big.
And this is most important to you.
I hold onto that hope. Your future will be different in this new age of awareness and empowerment with women holding men accountable for their actions, but sadly, the reality is sexual abuse, harrassment, and assault will still prevail. It’s a truth I hate to share with you, but I need you to have the knowledge I never had. I need you to understand more than I ever did. I need you to be armed with awareness and empowered with courage.
Because as hard as it is for me to face this truth-