I need to write you to tell you that I am sorry for a lot of things. I know you’ve noticed that I’ve been distracted this week, that I’ve been checking my phone more than I’d like, or talking quietly to other moms about words you don’t yet fully understand. I’m sorry I’ve had moments where I have looked visibly ill and horrified just from a glance at the news. Or that I’ve had to stop and take a deep breath to prevent myself from screaming at what has been unfolding in front of us. But mostly I need to tell you that I am sorry this is the reality you currently live in.
As your mom, all I want to do is protect you and I have never felt so powerless. I am sorry that you live in a world where sexual assault is so prevalent. I am sorry that you live in a world where innocent survivors are prosecuted, belittled, and blamed. I am sorry that there are people out there that actually consider the perpetrators actions excusable or acceptable. I am sorry that even when those strong survivors stand up and speak their truths there are so many out there that just don’t seem to care.
You are only four, too young to fully understand what is going on, but also sadly not too young to be subject to some of the most traumatic, unfathomable, and horrendous things that can happen in life. I know many strong amazing women who were your age when they were first sexually violated. Some even younger. My body feels physically ill at the thought of it. You are so innocent. You are so young. But that doesn’t really matter anymore. We are living in a world where all forms of sexual violence are more common than ever. There is nothing rare about it anymore. Perpetrators are no longer just thought to be sick strangers roaming at night. It is the people you see every day, the people you know the name of, the people you think are friends but have no friendly intentions at all. And sadly, no matter how hard I try to protect you and to shield you, I just can’t. I do not want to fail you, and I fear for your safety every moment you are out of my sight.
There is almost a 100% guarantee that someone you know will be the victim of sexual assault. In fact, you already unknowingly have met many amazing strong survivors. It terrifies me to even think of the possibility that you may be a victim as well. But being in denial will not help. We cannot be in denial anymore. As a mom, I have to accept that this may be your reality and therefore I need to tell you a few things.
Daughter, I promise you that I will always believe you. Should anything ever happen to you, come to me. I will listen to every word. I will never question a single detail. I will believe you. I will never doubt you and I will do everything in my super mom powers to make sure that those responsible are held accountable. I will fight for you and with you until justice is served. I will spend every day of my life believing you and making sure you know how much you are loved and how much worth you have. Your story, should it include any form of sexual assault, will be heard and believed. You will not be ridiculed about your recollection. You will not be questioned about your clothing or if you were or were not intoxicated. Because that does not matter. It was in no way at all your fault. I will believe you and I will stand with you. No matter what.
I hope and pray every day that you are not the victim of sexual assault. But if you are, your family will stand by you. We will do everything we can to help you heal. We will hold you. We will love you. We will tell you it was not your fault. We will fight for you. We will listen to your narrative and find you all the support you need. We will believe you.
I can hope for a better world for you, but it’s honestly too late. This is the world you live in. You are not too young to be immune to all types of sexual assault. You are not too young to be sexualized. You are not too young for your body to be disrespected or critiqued. You are not too young to hear inappropriate sexual jokes. You are not too young to be violated. This is the reality of the world right now, but hopefully not forever.
My job now is to continue to love you unconditionally. I will continue to educate you about right and wrong so that no one can try and shame you into believing their violations are in any way justified. My job is to arm you with a strong voice and teach you to never be afraid to use it. My job is to continue to teach you about your body and boundaries. My job is to teach you about consent. This goes for hugs from family members to school mates touching you in line all the way to rape and beyond. Your body is your own and you are the boss of it. In our house we will honor and respect the boundaries you have so that you know it is your right for them to be honored and respected outside our doors as well.
My job is to always be active in your day-to-day life and get to know the people you are with. I will continue to be diligent about who cares for you when I am not there. My job is to answer all of your questions and openly talk to you about sexual assault, no matter how hard it feels. My job is to never stop asking questions. My job is to show you that everyone needs to stand up against even the most naive jokes and comments that perpetuate rape culture. My job is to make sure you know that it is never your fault. My job is to help you be a fighter and a leader for justice. My job is to be a fighter and a leader with you.
I will hold you close and do everything in my power to keep you safe and protect you, but I will also be honest with you and myself about the scary realities of the world. I know that no matter how well I do my job, no matter how much I love you and teach you, there is nothing you or I can do to guarantee you will not be the victim of sexual assault. No matter how much you learn, or how aware you are, the only way to stop sexual assault is to stop the perpetrators before they act. So just know, if it happens to you, I will be there with you through it all, and I will love you unconditionally. It is not your fault. I will always believe you.
I don’t know what the future will hold for anyone. I do know that the world as it is right now is not ok. This is not the reality I want for anyone. This is not the reality that anyone deserves.
For today, I will continue to do my job as your mom and your number one ally. For today, I will fight harder for all the survivors of sexual assault, no matter what. We will not be silenced anymore. We will not be prosecuted anymore. We will be heard and we will demand justice. We will be believed.
So dear Daughter, may our stories not become your story. But if it ever tragically does, know that I will always stand with you. I will always believe you.
For a better tomorrow and a safer today. I love you.