#BreakTheSilence: I can't protect my sister.
The following entry concludes our #BreakTheSilence series, addressing the issue of sexual assault on college campuses and the broader issue of violence against women.
Our blog series may be ending, but the conversation should never stop. Ask your mother, talk to your sister, and share your story with a friend. Let's help each other break the silence.
I have a sister and her name is Kelsey.
Kelsey is brilliant, kind, compassionate, and gorgeous.
She plays softball.
She dreams of becoming an athletic trainer.
She is leader in her school and community.
Next fall, she will go to college.
I hope she will still only wear mascara. Maybe she will seem less easy.
I hope she will still dress modestly. Maybe she will seem less willing.
I hope she will still be passionate and speak loudly. Maybe she will seem less submissive.
I thought about all of these things while talking to her about the reality of sexual assault on college campuses.
And in that same moment, as I sat across from her in a quiet restaurant, I knew that less mascara and baggy jeans would not prevent someone from raping her.
And I cannot help her. I can only pass on the fear, the great fear that all women inherit.
Always have a friend.
Never leave your drink.
Tell someone where you are going.
Don’t get in his car.
Don’t go in his room.
A man turned down my street while I waited for the bus. I waved. He invited me into his truck.
Afterwards, my parents explained that man’s intentions and I discovered what it really meant to be a girl.
A fear that is constant.
A fear that lingers forever.
It clings to our necks and whispers into our ears,
“Never walk through dark alleys” and
“People want to take what you were born to give”.
I push around the food on my plate and I tell Kelsey to remember to walk with keys between her fingers. Behind her, the shadow forms.
It’s the same thing over and over.
“People want to take what you were born to give.”
I wish we lived in a world where fear, fear of the law and fear of justice, cloaked sexual abusers in a dark cloud of anxiety and worry.
I wish they feared our courts.
I wish they feared a society that supported victims.
I wish they did not see us as things to take.
The waitress refilled our water.
I take a sip.
A cold dose of reality:
I can’t protect my sister.
I can’t protect myself.
So who can?