There has always been sexual harassment and assault in the world we live in, and today it seems to be at epidemic proportions. I’m very glad the culture (utilizing the #metoo movement) is empowering women to speak out. They should be able to hold their heads high, unashamed of what has happened to them. It does not define who they are. While many instances of sexual assault could not have been prevented, as a mother and a woman who has found herself in precarious situations (…#metoo), I feel the need to give you advice that could possibly protect you.
If it feels inappropriate, it probably is. It makes me angry when I hear how assailants manipulate victims into thinking their propositions are no big deal:
“Just come up to my room while I….. Just let me give you a ride home… Just….”
You need to politely, yet strongly, decline the offer. Unfortunately, one small ok can lead to a push for the next level. Don’t be concerned about whether you will come off as silly or prudish. It may be socially awkward for a few minutes, but if your gut says no, listen! And get out of the situation.
Even when career or popularity are at stake, nothing is worth allowing yourself to be taken advantage of. You are smart, talented, and you will rise! Do not allow your values to be bought or coerced by someone in a position of power. This advice has been given by every mother for centuries. “Stick together like peas and carrots,” is a phrase you’ve heard many times when I’ve sent you out the door with friends. Those who travel in packs are less likely to be picked off. And make a pact to never let a friend leave the bar, library, or gym with a random cute guy. Feelings can overtake us at times, so we need to help our friends think clearly.
Being able to run and/or kick some a%$ in a moment of danger is so important. Stay in shape and take a self-protection class! Don’t rely on someone else to save you! Of course, screaming for help is always recommended.
I do wish the guy could pick you up at your door. It is a chivalrous gesture that shows that you are worth the effort. And you SO are! But, since you are on your own, he does not need to know where you live. Meet for dinner out and do not let him take you home, and for goodness sake do not drink! We all know that our decisions are impaired when alcohol is involved ((okay maybe a glass of wine at dinner when you’re 21…but always keep one eye on your glass)).
The book How to Avoid Falling in Love With a Jerk lists dating steps intended to be followed in order. And they can help protect you: Know, Trust, Rely, Commit, Touch. I love how you see the good in people, but you must be smart. Getting to know a man is the first step, and this should ideally include time with his friends and family so you can see his character. Know his heart before you trust him with yours. Until you know and trust him, you cannot rely on him to have your best interest in mind. Only then, should you be in a committed relationship. And until you’ve established this commitment, you shouldn’t let him touch you, which can put him in a position to take advantage of you.
When you were younger, I tried to protect you from sexual assault – never leaving you alone with a coach, a dad of kids you babysat, or a friend’s father. And when you started dating and guys came to our house, you were only allowed to hang out in the kitchen or family room where we were close by – never alone in your bedroom or the basement. I know that you thought this was “psycho mom” stuff, but I hope you can understand that it was my job. But now, it’s yours.
It is an amazing time to be a woman. The sky is the limit for you. But it’s also a time of some frightening trends. So, as you carve your path, hold your head up, be vocal at the first sign of sexual harassment or assault (this makes for fewer victims), and keep yourself out of precarious situations as best you can.
And one more very important thing…
Do not let fear cause you to think that all men are out to get women; there are many amazing men out there that will be great bosses, mentors, coworkers, fabulous friends, and maybe even your future husband. Just be smart and strong! Those characteristics are beautiful in a woman and they can also help protect you.
Never forget I love you, I will always be there for you, and I am praying for you!
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