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Our Vice President

Today our Vice President Joe Biden penned this beautiful letter. He makes me proud.

He rocks our world.

He rocks our world.

He makes me believe. He reminds me of what we have done and what we can do. But most of all I hope it brings some peace to the Survivor for whom it is written.

Always-

Becca

An Open Letter to a Courageous Young Woman

I do not know your name — but your words are forever seared on my soul. Words that should be required reading for men and women of all ages.

Words that I wish with all of my heart you never had to write.

I am in awe of your courage for speaking out — for so clearly naming the wrongs that were done to you and so passionately asserting your equal claim to human dignity.

And I am filled with furious anger — both that this happened to you and that our culture is still so broken that you were ever put in the position of defending your own worth.

It must have been wrenching — to relive what he did to you all over again. But you did it anyway, in the hope that your strength might prevent this crime from happening to someone else. Your bravery is breathtaking.

You are a warrior — with a solid steel spine.

I do not know your name — but I know that a lot of people failed you that terrible January night and in the months that followed.

Anyone at that party who saw that you were incapacitated yet looked the other way and did not offer assistance. Anyone who dismissed what happened to you as “just another crazy night.” Anyone who asked “what did you expect would happen when you drank that much?” or thought you must have brought it on yourself.

You were failed by a culture on our college campuses where one in five women is sexually assaulted — year after year after year. A culture that promotes passivity. That encourages young men and women on campuses to simply turn a blind eye.

The statistics on college sexual assault haven’t gone down in the past two decades. It’s obscene, and it’s a failure that lies at all our feet.

And you were failed by anyone who dared to question this one clear and simple truth: Sex without consent is rape. Period. It is a crime.

I do not know your name — but thanks to you, I know that heroes ride bicycles.

Those two men who saw what was happening to you — who took it upon themselves to step in — they did what they instinctually knew to be right.

They did not say “It’s none of my business.”

They did not worry about the social or safety implications of intervening, or about what their peers might think.

Those two men epitomize what it means to be a responsible bystander.

To do otherwise — to see an assault about to take place and do nothing to intervene — makes you part of the problem.

Like I tell college students all over this country — it’s on us. All of us.

We all have a responsibility to stop the scourge of violence against women once and for all.

I do not know your name — but I see your unconquerable spirit.

I see the limitless potential of an incredibly talented young woman — full of possibility. I see the shoulders on which our dreams for the future rest.

I see you.

You will never be defined by what the defendant’s father callously termed “20 minutes of action.”

His son will be.

I join your global chorus of supporters, because we can never say enough to survivors: I believe you. It is not your fault.

What you endured is never, never, never, NEVER a woman’s fault.

And while the justice system has spoken in your particular case, the nation is not satisfied.

And that is why we will continue to speak out.

We will speak to change the culture on our college campuses — a culture that continues to ask the wrong questions: What were you wearing?

Why were you there? What did you say? How much did you drink?

Instead of asking: Why did he think he had license to rape?

We will speak out against those who seek to engage in plausible deniability. Those who know that this is happening, but don’t want to get involved. Who believe that this ugly crime is “complicated.”

We will speak of you — you who remain anonymous not only to protect your identity, but because you so eloquently represent “every woman.”

We will make lighthouses of ourselves, as you did — and shine.

Your story has already changed lives.

You have helped change the culture.

You have shaken untold thousands out of the torpor and indifference towards sexual violence that allows this problem to continue.

Your words will help people you have never met and never will.

You have given them the strength they need to fight.

And so, I believe, you will save lives.

I do not know your name — but I will never forget you.

The millions who have been touched by your story will never forget you.

And if everyone who shared your letter on social media, or who had a private conversation in their own homes with their daughters and sons, draws upon the passion, the outrage, and the commitment they feel right now the next time there is a choice between intervening and walking away — then I believe you will have helped to change the world for the better.

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Words that shape us.

I may seem to be a little hypersensitive to language, but it’s with good reason. Language is important and impacts our feelings, values, trust, self-worth and so much more. I really like the pediatric dental practice we go to and believe that they do an excellent job and provide wonderful care. However, when the dental hygienist responds to my question, “how long do you anticipate the procedure will take” with: “it should be about 15 to 20 minutes if she is good, but could be 40 minutes or more if she’s not.” That gets me all fired up.

Rather than freak and let on that I’m my emotions are stirring and there is a rapid fire response ready to roll off my tongue at warp speed with a stern tone, I calmly say, “oh, ok. So if she is able to cooperate and remain somewhat calm with hands and tools in her mouth, and the piece is a good fit, then it will be about 20 minutes. But if she gets nervous or scared or if the fit is a challenge it could take a bit longer?” She looked at me very puzzled and said, “Um, yes. That’s right.” My daughter watching us the whole time and smiling. She’s used to this sort of exchange. I felt that confirming what I heard the hygienist  say in a way that reshaped her response to remove the statement about my daughter being good versus bad, was the best way to handle the situation.

According to.my husband, I am like the language police. I’m OK with that, because I believe there is power in language and how we speak to our children and about our children shapes how they speak to others and how they feel about themselves.

If she is “good” or ” bad” (as they say) in the dentist’s chair, that does not mean that she is a good or bad person. Her reaction to a procedure is a behavior, so please, let’s talk about the behavior and response, not the person. When trained medical professionals say things like, “you are being a good girl” to my child, or any child for that matter, it makes my skin crawl. I will continue to repeat their comment whenever possible with, ” You are doing a good job.”

Yes. A conversation or email at another time will likely follow. So, maybe I will be labeled the annoying mom or parent with insane expectations. So be it. This mom who might be annoying to some…or many, is doing her very best to raise a compassionate, confident and empowered young woman. If we confuse or offend some people in the process, well, that’s ok. If we educate a few people along the way, excellent. And if they climb aboard our train of teaching from an early age about the importance of creating a #consentculture with a focus on appropriate language then ,well then, all aboard and choo choo!

PS How was your morning?

Word.

Not my (Kelly's) daughter just a stock photo for effect.

Not my (Kelly’s) daughter just a stock photo for effect.

Kelly

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Forever Team Julia

One of the greatest gifts of this work is meeting others who are changing the landscape and conversation surrounding sexual violence. Please meet Julia Dixon, a dear friend you can follow at @PAVEJuliaDixon. Her words are painfully honest and relevant. We appreciate her willingness to write them and share them with the world. They like her are a gift. We ask that you please read her words and think about their impact. Then take action, together we are stronger. #iamonestudent

Forever Team Julia (you will be too)-

Becca & Kelly

At 20 years old I too testified in front of a grand jury. It was the summer between my sophomore and junior year of college– this month, 6 years ago. At 20 years old I told them what he did to me 2 years prior, how many times I said no, how he hurt me, how I begged him to leave. How much I wanted to forget these things and how much I knew I had to remember, so I could testify, so he wouldn’t do it again to somebody else. Keeping that shit within you for so long is poison. Welcome to my college years.
The jurors passed around pictures of my body, my bruises, taken at the hospital. And ultimately, at 20 years old, he also got 6 months in jail thanks to a plea deal. That’s why this Stanford case is hitting me so hard. Ultimately, the prosecutors office told me he only spent 3 days there.
“Do you think he learned his lesson?
“Do you think his punishment matches the destruction he caused when he decided to rape me and upend my life? Do you think his life has been as altered, as negatively impacted, as mine, due to his actions? Unlike him, I didn’t do anything to deserve the sentence that I live. But I can’t help but feel that the greater burden and punishment is still on me. And yet, I am one of the “lucky” ones. I have a guilty plea.
‪#‎BrockTurner‬ lost a college scholarship. So did I. Brock Turner lost his will to eat. So did I (spend a year sharing a dining hall with someone who raped you and you will too). Brock Turner did these things to himself by his own actions. I did not.
“The truth is that the punishment will never match the crime. I will never recover those years. I look back and I think of all the opportunities missed, clubs not joined, friends not made. That is my reality and I have to live with it. I don’t doubt there is a reason why all my closest friends I made in high school, while I have nearly none from college. I was on so much medication and experiencing so much trauma that I couldn’t manage much of anything. What is it like to feel safe and secure in college? How much more can you succeed when you feel self-actualized and supported? I will never be able to let my guard down; I will always have to fight this anxiety.
I’m writing this because while you may not know the Stanford victim, I can assure you that you know others like her, and they need as much support and to see you rally the same way. Supporting sexual assault survivors isn’t a thing that happens “out there”, in hypothetical scenarios. Survivors reach for support if they feel safe enough to open up. Be there for them.
I don’t enjoy telling this story, ever, at all. But I will do it 1000 times over if it helps the next victim find more support in their community. If it educates somebody on the realities of trauma. If it saves the next person. ‪#‎NotAlone‬‪#‎WeBelieveYou‬

 

This photo was taken of Julia at the 2016 Oscars when she joined Lady Gaga on stage.

Julia Dixon

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Why we need a #consentculture

I have been asked for some of my thoughts on the current ‪#‎BrockTurner‬ case so here they are: I think that the outrage is justified. And here is why. If he was a man (he’s not a child) of color, poor or not a star athlete he would have received different treatment by the system. Frankly as someone who has done this work for 13 years- all over the county and One Student is utilized all over the world I am shocked he was convicted. Yet- thankful. But the judge gave the most gentle sentence possible and is sending him to jail not prison. Maybe that’s the right choice- that I cannot not comment on- it is the judges commentary that it would such a grave impact on him to do otherwise that is why people are raging at him. And that is not ok. Brock Turner, the rapist, has not apologized (perhaps at the urging of his lawyers? Perhaps he is a monster?) His fathers statement tells me (you can read some of my additional thoughts in on Twitter at @onestudentorg and @beccatalks) that there was clearly little to no ‪#‎consent‬ education in the home. It reeked of privilege. No acknowledgment that their child a convicted rapist did anything wrong And frankly as a parent that angers me. They are failing their son. I expect them to love him without pause but now here they are and the fact remains ‪#‎brockturnerisarapist‬ . We have a responsibility to have layered conversations with our children about #consent sex, love, values. These are not always easy but it is our job and we signed up to do it. Push through the discomfort. Ask for help. This case is not complicated. You don’t rape people behind dumpsters. That is not sex. Are we destroying this “young man” online? No? What the Internet did to Justine Sacco was wrong. What “we” sometimes do (dismantle lives in a matter of hours for an attempt at humor) to normal people for stupid comments we make online. Not ok. Outrage for a rapist being held to a different standard. Justified. Anyone who says disgusting things things like “I hope he gets what’s coming to him in prison” is wrong. That’s egregious and unacceptable. But the general discourse from is earned and hopefully stirs a larger conversation like this one. ❤️ Please share www.onestudent.org for our many free tools, resources and campaigns to address sexual assault and create a culture of #consent.

Always-

Becca#consentcultrememe2

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