I have been thinking a lot about you this last week. I am one of many who have followed numerous updates detailing your daughter’s recent legal battle. I am a mother of five young sons and do not have daughters of my own. And still I have pondered what it must be like for you, her mother, to hurt for her and empathize with her and stand strong behind her in the face of a very public court case detailing sexual assault.
As do many mothers who stand alongside me in this journey of raising children, I applaud you for being the kind of woman who has made herself available to walk intimately with her daughter.
She works in a highly competitive and difficult-to-navigate industry, and I am certain there are many professionals along the way who have advised you to step back in the shadows and let them do their job, as it concerns your daughter’s career. However, you have made yourself ready, and she knows you are her go-to. Clearly, she trusts you. Because you were her sounding board four years ago when this incident took place, you were one of the most empowering and respected voices on the stand that helped make her case.
As our children grow into young adults and into full blown adulthood, many of us pray that they will not fall victim to dangerous people. People who might harm their bodies, who might touch them inappropriately, who might undermine their trustworthiness for the thrill of a moment. It sickens me to the pit of my stomach to recognize that sexual assault and sexual abuse is pervasive, a heartbreaking reality for both boys and girls. But I am encouraged and thankful for your daughter’s willingness to fight. By fighting this very public battle, she speaks loud for justice.
According to the National Sexual Violence Resource Center, this kind of assault is rampant amongst young women. Across college campuses, one of five women are sexually assaulted, and unfortunately researchers believe the numbers are grossly underreported. Many of these women, who doubt whether it’s worth the trouble to report these incidents, are highly susceptible to rape and physically abusive relationships. One in five women will be raped at some point in their lives. (This article at http://www.nsvrc.org is a worthwhile read.) These statistics cannot be glossed over. We must guide our girls accordingly.
Yesterday, media reported that the jury delivered a prompt verdict, favoring your daughter. A feeling of relief must have overwhelmed your legal team and family as you heard the verdict and exited the courtroom. But we know this is just the beginning of a new path you and your daughter have chosen to walk, hand in hand. Against hiding and for revelation. Against silence and for purposeful conversation. Against self hate and for self respect.
Our bodies are sacred and precious and meant to be part of our sanctification. Many women I live in community with believe this, and for that reason, we thank you. Thank you for being the kind of mother who has lead, listened, and leaned into your daughter. It emboldens us to stand beside our own.
Juleeta C. Harvey