How We Respond to Rape in the News

I don’t usually make a whole post to point out an article I’ve written on another site. My husband doesn’t usually highlight something I’ve written, sharing it with a “Good job, Meliss” on Facebook. But maybe this subject is different. It’s more than about me.

It impacts more than a handful of kids. Way way way more.

This is about rape, abuse, tough words like “consent” and the sickening blurred lines. I actually penned three versions, all responding to the prominent Stanford Case. Who could believe that the parents of the abuser would not only come to his aid but vehemently argue his case? Never once was the woman, the abused and victimized, mentioned.

Like so many, I was so beyond frustrated with this specific case and so many cases before it. I couldn’t stop reading the details and it just kept fueling my disgust.

My article featured on the terrific, Parent.co.

At any college or university, abuse can occur. On a date. After the library. Preppy clothes, a solid GPA, urban or rural. Loose jeans or whatever. None of the variables matter. We live in a broken world. We must speak about the tough things—words like “appropriate touch” and “consent”. We beat back the darkness by shining a light. We use our words.

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Rape is just too prevalent. Too sickening. Voices are lost to shame and a legal system that can be flawed. We saw that with Brock Turner, the Stanford swimmer and his parents. We saw that with the judge.

I sit with my children, watching the innocence, the fabric of their days, their joyous interactions, and I know there is grief in this world. Most children are sexually abused by someone they know, a figure they trust. Known or not, our girls may be blamed instead of the attacker.

I know that my sister, my children’s auntie, hears reports while away at college–reports of yet another incident, another attack on the college loudspeaker. It can seem like every night they are told to be careful, perhaps stay put. And the harrowing part is that most incidents of rape and assault go unreported. Mostly, a woman may be blamed and open to additional threats, should she go out on a limb and choose to report. That is if she can believe her own self-worth at that point if she can muster up the strength to look in the mirror and use the voice that has shrunk down so deep.

What is a parent to do? What can I do to battle the darkness now, even in this season of teaching my girl how to swim, of battling the formidable hill called Pottytraining? I mean, I’ve got milk leaking. What can I do? Rather, what must I do, for my son and my daughters? For others’ children, too? What am I called to do?

Speak about it, in the most direct, absolutely appropriate ways. To a four year-old, the talk will be very different that the way we speak with a sixteen-year-old. Of course. But talk. Talk. Let it be part of the family culture to talk about the tough news, the way abuse impacts lives, not just one. Talk about the way kind, respectful actions can go on to bless generations. Talk.

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I’m sparked, I’m on. I want to volunteer at hotlines. I want to organize nightly watches on campuses and in between parties. I want to offer young women a way out, even after they’ve already said “yes”, but feel otherwise. I want to hold tight, bring hurt girls and boys the freedom they need and desperately lack. I want to teach them to use their voice and treat others with some form of sacred respect.

In the end, I penned this piece (linked again) on what parents of young kids (and all kids) can do. It’s amazing what writing can do to soften the heavy emotional loads we carry. It’s a step, anyway.

Let this be the beginning of the kind of help I’ll do. Even if it is just towards my kids, let it be the start. May even the most grievous news catalyze, spark the understanding and a joy to help.

We’ve got to start somewhere. Let it be here, in this season, while my kids are 5, 3, and an infant. Let the light beat out the darkness, here, starting now, for all of us.

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