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

Defining The Line Between Discipline & Abuse

Fifty-Six

Fifty-six was the amount of time that I was able to stomach the altercation that transpired between Ray Rice and his fiancé, Janay. As I sat and watched the video on TMZ, I wasn’t shocked that another story of domestic abuse made the news.

In just twenty-seven seconds, Ray rendered her unconscious as he delivered one swift, left hook, punch to her face. She collapsed against the elevator rail and slid down to the floor. She didn’t move.

I should have stopped watching then, but I didn’t.

I continued to watch.

He pulled her lifeless body across the elevator and towards the door, with one shoe missing and her feet dragging behind her. Then, he dropped her face-first on the floor with a thud. I stopped watching. I was enraged!

I was angry for every victim across the nation who has seen the hand of abuse. I was angry at TMZ for exploiting the video. I was angry at Janay Rice for marrying him a month later on March 28. I was angry that she publicly lashed out towards his team and the media via Instagram, and sent the message to every child in the world that violence and abuse are “what true love is.”

Four.

Four is the age of Adrian Peterson’s son, whose body has been at the receiving end of a tree limb, a hand, and a belt, in just the four short years that he’s been alive.

I should have known better than to go researching the latest and hottest NFL trending topic on Twitter, but still, I began scrolling.

Tears filled my eyes before I even started typing. My heart was racing with anger. I knew not to read too many articles and to know when enough was enough. I was prepared, this time, I thought.

I continued to read and I continued to watch.

When I came across a few short lines, among millions of words, that left me fuming and speechless with fury, I wasn’t surprised. As he spoke with police, Peterson’s son said,

Daddy Peterson hit me on my face. There are a lot of belts in Daddy’s closet.

Then, he explains to his mother that Peterson “liked switches and belts” and has a “whipping room.”

I was enraged.

Yesterday, my daughter slipped and fell on the bathroom floor. Today, I am still upset at myself for not being more proactive in protecting her. That’s my job as her mom.

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. 

5.3 Million

The average 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.

According to the US Department of Justice, 1,300,000 women and 835,000 men become victims of physical assault at the hands of their own lovers annually. Black women suffering at a rate of 35 percent higher than white women.

An estimated 686,000 children, in 2012, according to the Child Welfare Information Gateway, had newly confirmed counts of neglect or abuse — 80 percent of them at the hands of their own mothers or fathers.

Approximately 3 million reports are made annually, which include more than 6 million children.

But we all just continue to watch.

Meanwhile, CBS News legal analyst Rikki Klieman, an “expert” defines the line between discipline and abuse as a gray blur?!

We blame our upbringing and culture while pointing our fingers at the NFL and the law for what our own hands are doing.

There is a line.

If you are disciplining your child, you are reinforcing positive behaviors and instilling respect. When you cross the line of abuse, you’re not only hurting your children, you are teaching them that it is acceptable and natural to hurt other people.

All states’ laws permit the use of ‘reasonable’ corporal punishment; simultaneously, they all prohibit nonaccidentally inflicted serious injury. —Doriane Lambelet Coleman et al.

If hitting our children results in a culture of violence and long-term disorders due to trauma (e.g. Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, racing thoughts, severe anxiety, aggressiveness, relationship issues, suicidal ideation, etc.), those are serious injuries.

If you took your fist and you punched it into the wall would it hurt you? Would you feel it? Yes. If you take a tree limb, belt or wooden spoon, and hit the wall as hard as you could would it hurt you? Would you feel it? No.

When your hands are hurting your child is bleeding and bruised— that is abuse.

That is the line.

As a parent, you draw the line and you do not cross it because you love and do not want to hurt your child.

One

One famous NFL player had to have a video go viral to get our attention. One is the number of people it takes to speak out and bring attention to important causes.

One is the age of my only daughter and the number of times I held her in my arms before I knew that I would fight to no end to protect her beyond measure for the rest of my life.

There is something to be said of our nation when more than 5 million of our own citizens are being abused and neglected, and we do nothing to rise together and change it.

That is until it’s the beginning of the football season and our favorite players start missing from the field.