Safe Before Anyone Else...is sexually assaulted, harassed, abused, gaslit, victimized and revictimized, traumatized and retraumatized, violated, and harmed. That's what SafeBAE stands for, and I'm very excited to share that after joining the board of directors for SafeBAE earlier this year, I have recently been asked to serve as one of the co-Chairs of the board. The work is very personal to me, and I hold it very close to my heart to protect all kids and prevent abuse and violence in their lives, because we all deserve a life free of violence, especially children.
But the thing is, SafeBAE's work with middle and high school aged students is vital for the safety of EVERYONE. People don't always make the connection of all the areas that such violence touches our lives, so I wanted to share with you some of the impacts our work has on the younger generations as well as your lives.
There's a scene in Bridgerton, after Daphne finally learns how babies are made and is upset to realize that her husband has misled her into thinking he can't have children, when it is that he won't have children. In their next bedtime encounter, before he is able to finish, she forces herself on top of him until he finishes inside her, instead of outside of her as he usually did. This is a consent issue and equates to a sexual assault. Yes, a woman can sexually assault a man. Yes, a wife can sexually assault her husband (and vice versa). And yes, you can be in the throws of sexual intimacy when consent is violated and assault is committed. It's important to recognize this, because I think many of us may have overlooked this. If the roles were reversed, it would have been very obvious and we would have said that Simon raped Daphne. The series highlights the lack of sex education women had back then, and how important sex education is. More importantly, sex education must include education on consent.
I was gutted to hear that Daisy Coleman took her life yesterday. I was shocked. I had to read the words at least three times before I fully comprehended what was happening. I didn't know her well, but I met her and the SafeBAE (Safe Before Anyone Else) team she co-founded a couple of years ago when I had the privilege of speaking on a panel at the end of a screening for their short GAME ON! The short was an educational piece to show teens how to look out for each other and prevent sexual assault by being an active bystander.
They, like myself, have a mission in life to help our younger and future generations change our culture for the better. After watching her story in the Netflix documentary, "Audrie and Daisy," I felt a sisterly connection with her, the way I do with all survivors. Daisy didn't deserve what happened to her. No woman or child does. She was just 14 when she was raped and left out in the freezing Missouri cold. But instead of her town and school supporting her and helping her heal, they turned on her. They bullied her at school and online.
Healing is not a straight and narrow path, but one full of ups and downs, U-turns, and off-roading. I, myself, know this well. Daisy did a lot of work on her healing, including EMDR, and was in the process of making a documentary showing her journeh. Daisy gave the world a gift when she became an activist. She turned her nightmare into a million dreams. And I, like so many others, was inspired by her. She was also an artist, and became known for tatooing other survivors. She took what happened to her and lit the way to help other young survivors.
We must continue that work. We can't let children continue to have their innocence robbed from them and then slaughtered in front of their faces. We can't let a culture of sexual assault to continue. This means educating young people on how to protect themselves and each other. This means not letting offenders get away with a mere slap of the wrist like so many young white male rapists have gotten away with. You can help continue Daisy’s and SafeBAE's work by donating to their organization. For the rest of the year, I will also donate a portion of any profit I make on Pocket Full of Dreams to SafeBAE. Please also consider purchasing the book for any young person you may know, or a school--middle school, high school, or university age. We must end this culture of abuse together.
We've all heard of the bystander effect. It is what happens when the presence of others discourages an individual from intervening in an emergency situation. More than just expecting someone else to intervene, when it comes to witnessing sexual assault or intimate partner violence, sometimes we just don't know how to intervene. However, there are many ways you can be an effective bystander, instead of a product of the bystander effect.