It’s Not Always About Girls

When One Million People Are Listening, You Roar

When Katy Perry hit the field at halftime Super Bowl Sunday, the crowd exploded with excitement, but I didn’t.

Before taking the stage, she expressed to the media,

I just hope that at the end of the day, over 100 million people are all smiling in unison.

I wasn’t smiling. Katy Perry took the stage with an opportunity before her to share one very powerful message.

She missed it.

Roar

As they anticipated the publication of the first No More commercial aired by the NFL during an event as momentous as the Super Bowl, the Joyful Heart Foundation exclaimed,

A historic 30 seconds!

When videos like Ray Rice’s go viral, the world loves to join in on the hype. But for survivors and victims all over the world, the video served as a trigger and a reminder. We didn’t just watch, we felt it.

We stood in anger. We stood in relation. We cried, we fought our own demons, we felt the same punches. We stood broken in the same spot and continued to scream the same message we did before the hashtag was trending.

If you ask me, that deserves more than 30 seconds. As Katy took the stage that day, these were the words that fell on everyone’s ears:

I used to bite my tongue and hold my breath,
Scared to rock the boat and make a mess.
So I sat quietly, agreed politely.
I guess I forgot I had a choice.
I let you push me past the breaking point.
I stood for nothing, so I fell for everything.

You held me down, but I got up (hey!),
Already brushing off the dust.
You hear my voice, you hear that sound?
Like thunder, gonna shake the ground!
You held me down, but I got up,
Get ready ’cause I had enough!
I see it all, I see it now.

I got the eye of the tiger, a fighter,
Dancing through the fire,
‘Cause I am a champion, and you’re gonna hear me roar
Louder, louder than a lion
‘Cause I am a champion, and you’re gonna hear me roar!

For many young girls and women around the world who have been victims of sexual assault and domestic violence, this song became our anthem. It has a powerful message.

Two songs later, her song Teenage Dream filled the Arizona arena.

You think I’m pretty without any make-up on.
You think I’m funny when I tell the punch line wrong.
I know you get me, so I let my walls come down, down.

Before you met me, I was alright.
But things were kinda heavy, you brought me to life.
Now, every February you’ll be my valentine, valentine.

Those are powerful lyrics, too. But what comes after those words, sends a different message that’s just as powerful.

Let’s go all the way tonight.
No regrets, just love.

As a mother, I think on the message this sends to my daughter about sex being equivalent to love. Sex is not love.

The message that we send to our children is important. According to International Business Times, over 114 million people watched the Super Bowl Game. I know what I would say if I was given the opportunity to speak an important message to that many listeners.

Love Changes People

I would tell the world that love changes people. But not the kind of love Katy emphasises in Teenage Dream, and not the kind of message Janay Rice shared with the world after the Ray Rice video went viral, and she exclaimed to the world,

Just know we will continue to grow and show the world what real love is!

She sent a powerful message to the children who were listening and following the chain of trending hashtags on Twitter. She and her husband were both seen exchanging punches in one horrifying display of domestic violence.

Love is respect, not violence! Teenagers and preteens around the globe heard a dangerous message.

As adults, we forget that every moment at that age seems to carry such importance.

Expressed Emily Lindin in an interview with Monique, a writer for The Women Who. Emily is the founder of the UnSlut Project. Rehtaeh Parsons, a 17-year-old Canadian girl who committed suicide after being gang raped by 4 teenage boys and sexually bullied by her peers at school, is who inspired Emily to begin the UnSlut Project.

At first, Rehtaeh changed schools, moving from Cole Harbour to Halifax in an effort to escape the nightmare of trauma that surrounded her and the reputation and labels that given to her by bullies. But eventually, the pain became too much. On April 7, 2013, another one of our children took her own life because of violence.

In her interview with Monique, Emily goes on to say,

At that age, we don’t have the perspective that things will get better.

She’s right. As parents, it’s our job to tell them.

Violence

This month is Teen Dating Violence month. Last year, we saw way too much violence not enough love and empowerment!

#MikeBrown, #TamirRice, #EricGarder, #BringBackOurGirls, #YesALLWomen, #YesALLDaughters, #WhyIStayed, #WhyILeft, #NFL, #BlackLiveMatter, #AllLivesMatter, #NYPDLivesMatter, #TransLivesMatter, #NoMore, #DomesticViolence, #Peshawar, #JeSuisCharlie.

#WeAreNotAfraid! But we are.

On Valentine’s Day, #Halifax began trending on Facebook after Nova Scotia police prevented a Valentine’s Day Massacre. One more hashtag to document our culture of violence. And when the hashtags stop trending, the violence doesn’t stop.

At the end of 2014, #LeelahAlcorn was trending on Twitter and around the world after posting a suicide note on Tumblr and taking her own life.

As a survivor of attempted suicide, it shook me. I started screaming my own message,

Tell your children that you love them and they matter!

Even my own family failed to hear it. So, I began to screaming my message even louder.

What if love was trending and compassion went viral? Imagine!

Every Child Matters

When it comes to love, we don’t need a trending hashtag to show it. We’ve become so wrapped up in social media that we’ve started neglecting our children, and blaming them for the way of life that we’ve created.

Emily Lindin conveys,

It’s easy to say, ‘Oh, kids these days are so much worse than when we were young!’ But we have perpetuated this culture where today’s kids are growing up believing female sexuality is dirty and shameful.

Another powerful message to send to our children. Today, I stand with the viral women of the world to share one very important message with our children:

You matter!

You are more than enough. When you’re in a position to send a powerful message, you stand and you shout it.

I asked Emily in my own interview,

From your experience in high school, why would you tell young girls that it’s important to love themselves before anyone else?

This was her response.

I would tell girls it’s important to love themselves before anyone else because once you know what’s wonderful about you – once you’re really identified and explored it – you can search for complementary aspects in a partner. The problem with finding someone you think you love before you love yourself is that you risk changing or adjusting important parts of yourself in order to match THEM, rather than seeking out a person who will really bring out the best parts in YOU!

Love is what changes people. Love for ourselves, love for sons and our daughters, and love for each other. If we want national change, it begins right here with us.

It begins at home. Tell your children that you love them and they matter.


Send an open letter to your loved ones and tell them that they matter.

Image Credit

Do We Need A Trending Hashtag For That?

Each year,  approximately 3 million reports of child abuse or neglect get filed. Those reports include the names of over 6 million children.

Some of those names are reported over and over again.

Child abuse and domestic violence happens daily. Every day, another abused child goes overlooked and every day, another abuser remains free and uncharged.

If the hashtag isn’t trending, we don’t care. It doesn’t matter.

It matters to me.

Enough is Enough. Silence is trending, too.

In September, the social media networks exploded with emotion and anger after  NFL running-back, Ray Rice had his violence captured on video and posted on TMZ.  Just days later, Adrian Peterson joined the NFL’s top trending players after being accused of child abuse towards his son, age 4.

#RayRice
#AdrianPeterson
#JonathanDwyer
#WhyIStayed
#WhyILeft
#DomesticViolence
#NoMore
#NFL

Silence

They’re not trending anymore. We have a culture of violence. We have a habit of silence. We have a culture of rape, but we continue to divide genders and causes. We have a culture of abuse, but we don’t care. We have  . . .

A LETHAL THREAT TO OUR COUNTRY AND IT STARTS AT OUR OWN FRONT DOORS.

Victims

As someone who has endured child abuse and domestic violence, it is more than just hype to me.

Some people can walk away from the television and leave the news on the screen, but I can’t. I carry it on my shoulders, my mind and my heart, alongside my own memories that linger. I carry the pain like a chain around my heart and my soul. I don’t forget.

The victims matter to me. I care. I’ll speak for the ones that have no voice.

They stayed trending for days and weeks.  Then, we moved on and replaced them with the latest trending on Twitter. I’ve watched it happen all year.

Now, I’m angry. I’m driven and I’m going to get loud.

Love

Do we need a trending hashtag for that? Yeah?

#LOVE! #LOVE! #LOVE!

Why?

When the hashtag stops trending, the abuse doesn’t stop. We should care about that!

When we make it acceptable for the line between discipline and abuse defined as “a gray blur,” we are damning our children to the same culture of violence and passing on the same habit of silence.

There is a line.

We draw the line. That’s our job as parents.

Abuse isn’t a tradition or a way of life passed down. It’s violence. It is someone choosing to intentionally hurt their children. It doesn’t just happen by accident. It is a choice made by the child abuser.

If experts cannot define the line between discipline and abuse, it is time for that mothers and fathers did.

I cannot fathom disciplining my child in such a way that bruises, welts and cuts, are left on her body. I would never intentionally inflict pain upon her at all.

To Adrian Peterson, though, that’s just the way of life.

So, the NFL waited a day to announce their commencement with former White House official, Cynthia C. Hogan, until one day after Peterson delivered his preapproved and professionally articulated statement.

A strategic move in keeping a lid on the latest domestic violence hype, and Charles Barkley helped defend a culture of abuse claiming,

‘Whipping — we do that all the time!’

Making sure to allude that it’s not a big deal.

But it is.

The approximate number of men, women and children, who will remain or become victims of abuse or neglect by the end of this year is 5.3 million.

Words that I wrote myself in an article for Elite Daily. They echo over and over in my head.

I care.

The line starts here.