When I wake up in the morning, I typically grab my phone and spend a few minutes on Facebook before facing the day. This particular morning, the stories I read and videos I watched had me sobbing, but each for very different reasons.
The first story I paused on: I am a Hillary Clinton supporter, and on this particular morning, Hillary was announced as the Democrat nominee for the presidential race. I watched her inspiring speech and literally sobbed at the significance of her presence and what she represents for women and girls everywhere.
Scroll. Scroll. Scroll.
My emotions went from elation to horror because…
The second story I paused on: A horrific scene of a man dragging a thirteen-year-old girl right out from under her mother’s nose in broad daylight in a Dollar General store, mom beating on him in panicked attempt to free her child from his grasp. Right here in Florida. Right here, where my thirteen-year-old lives and walks to school every single day. The lump in my throat rose. I thought I might be sick.
My heart was heavy.
A little later this morning, my youngest daughter’s friend came by the house to walk with her to school. I was so grateful for her presence. I was haunted by the video images I had seen just an hour or so before my girl was ready to blow a kiss and wave goodbye to me. I didn’t want to have to tell her about the attempted kidnapping video, but I had to. They were planning to go to Panera right after their last day of school this afternoon. They had to be reminded what to do if anything like that should happen to them. They didn’t want to hear it either. They tried to escape without gory details, and I did spare them those, but I admonished them to stick together at all times; never leave one of them alone at any moment. Promise. Swear. Hit, scream, fight, kick. If necessary, vomit or soil yourself to gross them out just long enough to get away. If you’re in a car, jump out as soon as possible. A broken arm or leg, scraped skin, a concussion…all are better than gone. Hug me one more time, please. You too, little friend, because your mama’s not here right now and she’d want me to be sure you know we love you more than our own lives.
Out they ran. The door closed. Sink. Worry.
That’s when my mom blogging friend Heather PM’d me. She was feeling the same heaviness and sense of dread. Her daughter is a similar age. As moms, we often talk about how open we are with our children these days, how we want to shelter them from realities, but we know we cannot do so for very long. The world is tough, and we know we have to bring up tough kiddos. We need to blog about it, she said. We need to do it together. We need to wrest the control back from the perpetrators to ourselves. We can start the change that we long for for our girls, who, as Hillary said in her speech, WILL RISE: “if we stand together, we will rise together, because we are stronger together.”
Social media put these horrible events on our radar, so we want to use social media to fight against these violent, entitled behaviors that some young men think they can get away with toward our daughters. We want our daughters to feel empowered to stand, to be strong, to rise.
Heather and I found some resources we can use for enhancing our own and our daughters’ awareness of these dangers, and we share them here. My awesome colleague and friend, Leandra Preston-Sidler also shared some of her many resources for women, girls, and patriarchal culture.
Although this post is focused on girls and women and what we can do right now to help ourselves; we all know that another post is also called for: resources for teaching our sons how not to be that rapist, that kidnapper, that human trafficker. We are not up for that today, but soon. We welcome and invite your feedback, resources, services, and thoughts. We are not experts by any estimation. We are just moms who know that anything is…#betterthangone.