I have been sexually assaulted twice. Once by a stranger who forced himself on me when I was just 15 and once at a college party after someone put something in my drink. As a waitress in college, I encountered sexual harassment more times than I can count and never really thought much of it , but last week I responded to the viral Hashtag, “Me Too” to say, “You are not alone, whether you’ve been sexually harassed or sexually assaulted, You are not alone. No one ever asks for it, wants it or deserves it. I certainly did not. And it’s time we all speak up.
In an ideal world I shouldn’t have to worry about such things. I should be able to enjoy a concert or party wearing what I want and drinking what I want and peacefully working where I want, right? I also wish I could leave my car unlocked all the time too and let my children run out of sight at a park, but we live in a world where there is often evil and often bad people so we must be more careful. It says in the Bible: Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. Resist him, firm in your faith, 1 Peter 5;8
First let me briefly address sexual harassment. Please let your daughters know that: It is never ok for anyone to make you feel uneasy, threatened or uncomfortable in their presence, Period. Often times harassment looks like off color jokes and comments (perhaps of a sexual or demeaning nature) maybe even with subtle brushes up against you. It may be so subtle that you feel silly bringing it up to a teacher, parent, or boss. It is however, never silly for you to stand up for yourself. The sooner you address such behavior and bring it into the light, the better. Please know that you are a child of God worthy of respect and dignity! Settle for nothing less.
My daughters are 18 and 16 and over the years I have had plenty of age appropriate conversations with them about strangers, and even pedophiles and child molesters (who might not necessarily be strangers). I told them it is never ok for anyone to touch their body inappropriately. And that it is in fact ok to scream, cuss, hit and bite if you are in danger.
As they got older I made sure that the conversations about self-worth, boys, and sex, were ongoing and they went something like this:
1.You are more than the sum of your parts and you have value and worth outside of the approval or affections of a guy. You do not need to spend your time vying for the attention and affections of a guy to define you. You are talented and smart, loved and full of life and potential. Conduct yourself as such and let your worth be found in these things and in the love of your family and the God who created you! In doing so, you will exude confidence, which naturally breeds respect. Have you ever heard the term, “Your vibe attracts your tribe”? There is something to that.
2.You teach people how to treat you. If you don’t like the way someone treats you, let them know quickly! If you allow disrespect, if you allow harassment, if you allow people to treat you less than you are worth, this is unfortunately the way they will treat you until you say otherwise. Say otherwise.
3. Be clear about your own boundaries and don’t give mixed messages. My ideal desire for you is that you would save your sexuality for your husband, and until you meet him and fall in love, I hope that you treat everyone else as a friend and expect the same in return. Consider drawing your physical boundaries firm and far away from the fence so that there is no confusion where you stand and no mixed messages get sent. No one is ever ever allowed to cross your personal boundaries or make you feel uncomfortable or scared or threatened. “No!” always means “No!” but if you do say yes to sexual activity, still make your boundaries clear and if you change your mind, that is your right and it should be respected. When you give a guy a “green light” and then suddenly give him a “red light”, it is difficult and frustrating (but not impossible, please hear me) for him to change gears . Sometimes frustration leads to anger, and sexually frustrated anger is nothing you want any part of! It is not your fault but it is a reality you should be aware of. Which is why you have a responsibility to yourself to be clear about your intentions and firm with your boundaries.
*If you do find yourself in danger you should have an exit strategy. Possibly refer back to my plan regarding strangers and child molesters. But my goal in these conversations is to educate my daughters so they can be proactive and preventative.
4.Make wise choices and be sober minded.
Before my oldest daughter went off to college this fall I found myself saying these more practical things to her:
“If you are at a party, get your own drink and don’t put it down!
Maybe even be choosy what party you attend and with who.
You can also choose not to drink as well.
Always be mindful of your surroundings and never leave with someone you don’t know.
Double date and group date until you know someone well and even then make sure someone knows who you are with and where you are going.
We all have that still small voice inside of us; (I believe it’s the Holy Spirit) listen to it when you hear, “Something’s not right here!” or “Don’t go that way!” You know it’s usually right.
Ephesians 5:8 So be careful how you live. Don’t live like fools, but like those who are wise. Make the most of every opportunity in these evil days. Don’t act thoughtlessly, but understand what the Lord wants you to do. Don’t be drunk with wine, because that will ruin your life. Instead, be filled with the Holy Spirit.
I wish we did not have to have these conversations! I wish there was no evil in the world and we did not have to worry about such things. But there is and we do. I know some of this may sound over protective, or over the top, but we are talking about the safety of our daughters as they become young independent women. I want my daughters to be strong, educated, and empowered, while they are at home, and when they leave the nest!