Why Don’t We Create Spaces That Make Women Feel Safe?

Anne Meltzer is a psychologist and offered the following information in an article in the Washington Post:

The vast majority of sexual abuse victims delay disclosing what happened.

“It’s one of the most common features of child sex abuse,” Meltzer said. Most victims of child sexual abuse fear retaliation, that they won’t be believed or that their family may be angry. There are often very intense feelings of shame, guilt and humiliation.

Statistically, teenagers are less likely than younger children to tell authorities about an assault, she said. Particularly concerned with how others view them, teenagers often feel like “damaged goods.”

“Another reason children don’t disclose is because they are sometimes threatened or pressured to keep it a secret,” said Meltzer, adding that although it may not apply to Kavanaugh and Ford, it is nonetheless a common reason.

As the father I cringe as I read statements in articles like these and I can only think of the lack of safe, comfortable and nurturing spaces that we provide to our young girls and women. I am reminded of the talk that families have to still have with their daughters. Along with raising our young women with the most basic of life’s lessons we have to go beyond with our lesson plan. Instilling into them confidence, worth and empowerment in a world that still sees them as not equal or someone’s pleasure.

I honestly haven’t been concerning myself about the Kavanaugh confirmation hearings. Besides the few dramatic exchanges between Kavanaugh, Senator Kamala Harris and Senator Cory Booker I just didn’t see the point. Because I truly think it is theatrics and that most confirmations are a forgone conclusion and a waste of Americans money and time. But when a woman comes forward with an allegation I have no choice but to be interested and concerned.

What happened years ago between Kavanaugh and Ford isn’t going on trial due to statute of limitations which in my opinion is erroneous and suspect but it will be questioned by those still considering his nomination. Some question why come forth now years later and when he is up for confirmation?  

Mrs. Ford wrote a letter detailing her plight because she felt it was her civic duty and that her disclosure had bearing on Mr. Kavanaugh’s character. Mrs. Ford also disclose these allegations to her husband and therapist in 2012 – well before his nomination to the high court. She wrote a letter to Senator Diane Feinstein detailing the accounts.  She thought the letter would be held in confidence. It wasn’t. So here we are.

It’s because of this letter that Mrs. Ford was made to go public with her story. And I’m glad she was. I believe her letting us know what happened is what’s truly needed to fight back at predatory injustice.

I believe that this action is inline with bold moves recently and that will be needed in the future to protect our women from casual and familiar predators. I do know that a patriarchal sense of entitlement seems to run rampant in our lives these days. I believe that entitlement is where statutes of limitations come from, victim shaming and the lack of safe and comfortable spaces to disclose a story of abuse by a woman comes from. Earlier this year I wrote an article about a Lulabel Seitz, the young woman who was valedictorian of her school this year. Her mic was cut off during her speech because she was attempting to speak out against her alleged sexual assault case. An incident that was covered up by school officials themselves.

I ask when do women, young women and our girls get the protection that they need, want and deserve? When do the places that they should be safe in be safe? When do we go out of our way to purposely make safe and comfortable spaces for them. So in this particular instance between Kavanaugh and Mrs. Ford I say speak Mrs. Ford and speak out loud and vibrant. To any woman or young girl who has a story of sexual abuse to tell speak out with a loud illuminating voice to bring closure to you and a inspiring story to others.

As a man, a father and simply a human being with humility and character, I will continue to fight to obtain these safer and more comfortable spaces for our wives,  our mothers, our daughters, our colleagues and our friends. Will you join me?


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