“On education: It’s important that we speak to children, not lecture, and offer substance rather than slogans.” -Rosalind Wiseman
“When we empower women, we change the world.” – Andrea Jung, CEO Avon
I started off this blog post with those two quotes because they really struck a chord with me. These were reported from the live Twitter feed of @AvonPRNewsFlash from the second day of The Global Partnership to End Violence Against Women summit. As these quotes came across in my Twitter feed the first person I thought about was my little sister. She’s going to be seventeen this year and is soon going to be off to the college to brave the Real World. Though I am always overprotective and want nothing but rainbows and sunshine for her, I know that it won’t be the case. The world is a lot tougher than it was when I was in college eleven years ago and with the ever present problem of violence against women in the forms of domestic and sexual violence, the world is still a scary place. What helps me sleep at night when it comes to my sister?
The fact that we talk.
We talk every single day. We don’t only talk about how to be aware of her surroundings, don’t let people take advantage of her, and be careful of who she hangs around. We also talk about school, teenage gossip, TV shows, her hobbies (she can bake a mean cake!), and her dreams (all 1 million and 1 of them!). What does this have to do with domestic violence? Just by listening to her and talking to her without judgment and giving her advice on the little things establishes that line of communication. Talking about something as simple as what happened on ANTM can open up a whole dialogue about what it means to be woman, how to value herself, and how to demand the respect of others. Frankly domestic violence is underreported. When it happens, many women remain silent. They don’t talk about it and may feel they have no one to talk to about it. She and I both take comfort in knowing that when something big in her life happens, good or bad, she can come to me.
So find that woman in your life. A sister, a cousin, a friend, a co-worker, a mother, an aunt, or a little girl in your neighborhood. Take an interest in her life. Give value to her opinions. Truly listen to what she has to say (no matter how crazy it may be). Doing that empowers her to feel that at least one person cares and that can take her so far. If she can talk to you about the little things, chances are she will feel comfortable enough to talk about the big things, like rape and abusive relationships. You have to have that strong line of communication about everything so one can feel comfortable talking to you about everything. And when something does happen, chances are she will feel comfortable turning to you for help!
I love you Annie!!
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