Dear Eliza

Recently, I read a news article about Robert Kraft’s charges upgrading from a misdemeanor to a felony due to purchasing “prostitutes” on multiple days versus one day.  The story itself made me sick, but what broke my heart were the comments following.  The amount of people who were defending his actions and were upset that he’s being held accountable blows my mind.  It’s hard not to assume that because he’s an NFL franchise owner (not just any NFL team, the Patriots) means he deserves to be pardoned.  That these “prostitutes” he purchased didn’t matter.  It was irrelevant that these women were victims and enslaved for his purchasing pleasure.  There were jokes asking on how to find this “spa” or where they could be found locally.  Not one comment acknowledged that these women must have been going through hell.  Their lives did not matter and were grouped together as though they were not even human. 

Each of these women have names, they have souls and dreams that were stolen from them.  They are not there by choice nor are they getting paid.  They are not only women from foreign countries, they are women taken off the streets of our neighborhoods. 

Rape culture mindset is everywhere, and it needs to end.  We made progress with the MeToo movement, but we need to keep it going.  We cannot let it become a moment in history, but a movement that changes an entire culture for women (and men). 

When I think about my own daughter, it terrifies me to think about what she may endure.  There are things I would have to tell her in hopes of protecting her.  Things that might make me sound crazy, but things that we as women go through every day.  Things I think about every time I’m alone.  Things I wish I was more aware of in my youth.

If I had to send her out into the world today, our conversation would go something like this… 

Dear Eliza,

There are some things that I must tell you as your mother and as a woman.  This world can be a beautiful place with beautiful people.  I pray that you only encounter these types of people and experiences, but if you don’t, there are some things that you must know. 

When you go out at night, please make sure you are not alone.  You always need to be aware of your surroundings and cannot be distracted by a phone.  When you walk to your car at night, keep your car keys between your fingers so if you are attacked, you have a defense.  If you get into an Uber, pull out a piece of your hair with your DNA attached so there is evidence of you being in this car.  If you go to a bar, go with friends and leave with the same friends.  Don’t ever leave your drink unattended.  You cannot get into a car with a man you do not know and please do not fall for false promises. 

Your virginity is not a prize to be won and your heart cannot be given away into different pieces. The greatest gift you can give someone does not include your flesh. You are whole all by yourself.  Please know that your value goes beyond any man’s opinion of you and if you mess up, you are worth so much more than even your worst mistake. 

You, beautiful girl, have an enormous purpose in this life.  You are not here by mistake.  You were longed for and prayed for.  There is not one person or experience that can tarnish your beauty or worth.  You are perfect exactly as God created you.    

I wish this world could be different for you.  I wish you did not have to protect yourself and be on guard every second of this life, but until real change happens, until rape culture ends, you cannot let your guard down.

We must keep fighting, sharing our experiences, standing our ground and supporting each other.  We owe it to our sisters, our friends, our children and our grandchildren. 

No matter what happens, know that I will ALWAYS believe you and will never stop fighting for you. 

-Mom

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