Monday, September 27, 2010

The World I Want For My Daughter

We all have dreams for our children. Things that we want them to have and experience. When my daughter, Katarina, was born I was so excited for her to sit up, say her first word, and start walking. I wanted her to learn to read and see the light of discovery in her eyes.

Now Katarina is seven years old, and I want her world to be filled with laughter, art, books, friendship, imagination, clubhouses, huge dreams, fairies, silly hairstyles, running barefoot through the grass, butterflies, cuddles, hugs, smiles, dancing, learning - the world wide open in every direction just waiting to be explored and conquered. I want her to never know pain, but when pain does come, I want her to grow and learn and work through it with support and love. I want her to be assertive. I want her to stand up for herself if necessary.

I want her to be safe. I take every precaution possible to teach her about safety, to empower her with words to use if someone was to inappropriately touch her. I prepare her for what to do in an emergency. I teach her about life and people and answer her questions honestly. The world is a huge place when you are seven years old and it is my job to help her learn to navigate through it.

As she gets older, I know that things will change. My dreams and goals for her will change, and so will the ones that she has for herself. I mentioned to my husband that I was writing about the world I want for our daughter and he quickly weighed in with his desire - a 30 foot wall with barbed wire on top to keep all bad guys out and keep her safely inside. He was kidding, sort of. Of course that is excessive. 25 feet should be enough, don't you think?

I know that one day she will grow up and we won't be able to be with her every day. We can't really lock her behind a wall, nor would I. I want her to have a life lived fully. I can't keep every bad thing away from her, or fix every problem. I can teach her and love her and send her out into the world trusting that she is smart and capable and prepared. I can pray for her and trust that God has his hand on her life.

To do that I will have to let go. Let her find her own way. As much as possible, I want that path she takes to be filled with love, laughter, dancing, learning, smiling, friendship, huge dreams (some things never change). Marriage. A family. I want her always to be hopeful. Strong. Able to tackle anything that comes her way. Soft. Able to love deeply with a heart full of compassion and grace. Beautiful. Able to love herself without any body image issues. Adventurous. Able to find the fun in every experience and turn even the smallest moments into something special.

There are so many other things that I want for my daughter. I dream a perfect world for her, but unfortunately I can't guarantee that. I hold all these dreams in my heart and they spill out, not just to my daughter, but to all daughters and sons.

Joyful Heart Foundation

Why am I writing about this? “The World I Want For My Children” is an effort to support The Joyful Heart Foundation, which was founded by Law & Order: SVU actress Mariska Hargitay to help victims of sexual assault and domestic violence mend their minds, bodies and spirits and reclaim their lives. Today, the foundation is at the forefront of an effort to end a disheartening backlog of tens of thousands of rape kits in labs across the country, a backlog that contributes to a rapist’s 80 percent chance of getting away with his crime. The backlog and its detrimental effects will be the topic of a powerful SVU episode on Wednesday, September 29th.

As a child I was sexually abused. I didn't speak out until I was an adult, and by then my abuser had already died. I never got the chance to confront him, to make a police statement, to see a prosecution come down, to receive justice of any kind. That fact will always be like a hole in my heart.

Each one of the estimated 200,000 untested rape kits across the country represents a woman, man, or child who was the victim of sexual violence. Victims who did the courageous thing of reporting it. They submitted themselves to a rape kit, only to have it sit, untouched, on a shelf for years and years. Never processed, never tested. Evidence that could give the state what they need to catch and prosecute a rapist, and it isn't even entered into a computer system. It breaks my heart to think of these courageous survivors being passed over by the legal system due to lack of funding.

One day I want a world where crimes of sexual violence no longer happen. Until then, I demand a world where these crimes are taken seriously and every rape kit is tested and entered into evidence with the hopes of catching and convicting rapists. Anything less than that is an unacceptable world for victims, survivors, and all of our daughters and sons.

Please help us raise awareness for this important work. What kind of world do you want for your children? Write your post and link up here.

40 comments:

  1. Three strikes and you are out. This is the third time I'm trying. I had said a great comment the first time, a fair comment the second and this one is going to be crappy cuz now I HATE blogger and am annoyed.

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  2. As a small part of The Joyful Heart Foundation's team, I want to thank you for your support. Each post helps end the backlog. I wish you and Katarina much "...love, laughter, dancing, learning, smiling, friendship, huge dreams..."

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  3. These are the reasons I blog. Spreading awareness for issues like this. Your post was written beautifully. Good for you for sharing and helping.

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  4. What a wonderful charity. This was a beautiful, touching post.

    We all want a perfect world for our children. I wish that was possible.

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  5. Wow. I want all that for my daughters too. And I also hope they don't get their dreams squashed by the shrews of the world. Because in the end, it won't matter.

    The shrews will always be miserable AND your daughter will be as happy as a clam. I can't WAIT until Law and Order SVU this week....So EXCITED!

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  6. OMG Thanks Tracy!!! I LOVE seeing The Joyful Heart Foundation being mentioned in blogs! Joyful heart is the most powerful amazing foundation I have ever come across. This is the foundation that started my healing. This foundation saved my life and I don't even live in the same country!!! Thats powerful!
    My ultimate goal in life is to work with Mariska to expand the foundation into Canada. What a dream come true that will be!

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  7. I want that world too... I will check out your charity.

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  8. This is such an amazing charity and I too am inspired by your words. You have lucky, lucky girls.

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  9. 30 feet not 28, 25 or 29.562, 30; oh you left out the sniper towers!!!

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  10. This is a beautiful, brave post. Thank you for sharing it, Tracie.

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  11. Thank you, Tracie, for putting yourself out there, to raise awareness, and give this important cause a face.

    I'm so sorry this has happened to you. So very sorry.

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  12. This is an issue that is also close to my heart, and I think it's pretty damn strong on your part that you're willing to share your experience.

    Thank you for talking about it.

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  13. what a beautiful & heart breaking post... that the world has to even deal with this issue...

    Awareness is the key to so much... good for you for sharing & getting the word out.. & for being bold in telling your own story & thoughts. That's courage right there!

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  14. I am amazed, flummoxed, flabbergasted..... This post was so well written and beautiful. I want all those things and more for my daughter as well. I feel the same about the battles ahead and the difficulty in knowing how to handle them.

    I will post this link, thank you for sharing this cause and your story! We all can learn from your experiences, I know that I have!

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  15. As the mother of a seven year old girl too, I can completely relate to your hopes and dreams for your child:) I saw the preview last night for that episode and that was pretty powerful. I have no doubt it will raise awaresness to a higher level.

    You are an amazing, brave woman to share your story. Many will be helped by your courage. Thank you for sharing it with us.

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  16. I have a seven year old daughter, and you have beautifully expressed the wishes I have for her.

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  17. A quote from a book I just read seems fitting. "Charity is good and necessary, but if there were more justice we would need less charity." Speaking of Faith by Krista Tippett is the book.

    I've read many stories of the horrors of hospitals and rape kits. Awareness is key. Keep talking and developing solutions. Thanks for a great post and keeping us aware.

    Radiating Yellow Joy

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  18. thank you for sharing your story there at the end...i work with kids that have been abused and helping them work through the feelings and emotions...it is tender spot for me...thus why mine hits on it as well...lovly dreams you have for your littles...much the same as i have for my boys...

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  19. I think you did a great job and this post and thank you for sharing.

    I think that even though you can't be with your daughter all the time, that you are providing her with guidance, knowledge, and strength and those things will always be with her.

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  20. You are smart, brave, and strong. You have not been afraid to share your deeply personal stories and I know you're helping people along the way. I have no doubt that Katarina will follow in your footsteps. Phenomenal post, Tracie!

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  21. Super post, Tracie I love it thank you. Plus you're very funny :) re: the wall

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  22. Wow what a fabulous post! You are very brave for speaking out. I want exactly the same things for my daughter! Thanks for stopping by to say Hi! Hope that you are having a good week so far!

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  23. Tracie,

    I am so glad that you participated in this event. I wish that world for all our daughters (and sons!).

    You inspire me when you share your strength and your truth. I hope that each time you do, that hole in your heart fills a little bit more. I'm glad to know you.

    Traci

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  24. That's exactly the kind of world I want for my daughter as well. Plus the big wall when they get to be about 16 or so!

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  25. Beautifully written. I think all mothers of daughters would agree whole heartedly that these are the things that we want for our daughters.

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  26. Oh oh...I want art and books and imagination and the barefoot running too. I love your vision of the world and would happily have my daughter there (behind the 25 ft wall too!)

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  27. I was very excited to come across this blog and would love to do one myself if I knew how.
    I have a 15 year old with PDD (high functioning Autismn), and she is a rape victim but luckily she got her day in court and he got 10-2o years But anyone who is fighting for theese poor victims I am 100% on their side!!

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  28. It's so important to speak our truth ~ silence is not golden. Brave post!

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  29. My oldest son once thanked me for "independence with training wheels" - and that's what you talk about - helping them achieve THEIR dreams,encouraging them to be who God created them to be - and that means re-adjusting our plans, a constant readjustment. Parenting with love, like you describe, is definitely not an "all-about-me-experience." Beautiful job!!

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  30. Sometimes this world does seem so frightening and scary. I often find myself wanting to protect my children from it. Thanks for sharing this. It is nice to meet you. :)

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  31. What a beautiful heartfelt post! We want so much for our children, don't we? Above all, for them to grow up happy, healthy and safe. I too am a survivor of sexual abuse and I have the same hopes and dreams for all of my children. Thank you so much for sharing a piece of your heart with us.
    I'd love for you to read the post I wrote when you get a chance. Here it is:
    http://liveandloveoutloud.com/2010/06/04/child-sexual-abuse-ill-never-forget-what-he-did-to-me/
    Again, thank you for sharing!

    Kristi, Live and Love...Out Loud
    @TweetingMama

    PS Consider your post stumbled! :)

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  32. Beautiful, beautiful post. Love what everyone's writing for the Joyful Heart Foundation. Your daughter is lucky to have you as a mom.

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  33. Thank you for letting me know about the rape kit backlog. I had no idea. Horrible!

    Plus, I gotta say I love your thingy at the top of your home page with the twitter, facebook, etc. buttons. Those are cool! Can I ask where you got that?

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  34. Such an important post. Thank you.

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  35. Yes! Yes to all of this, especially the fairies and butterflies and a "world wide open in every direction." And I'm so sorry you had to cope with sexual abuse. Your story is one more powerful reminder of how important this meme, and this foundation, is.

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  36. Such a beautiful post and cause.

    I put some thought into a post, but then started getting overwhelmed at all the bad that could happen and just couldn't deal with it.

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  37. A beautiful, courageous post on a mostly silent threat.

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  38. Wonderful post- I wish the same for my girls, all girls.
    "Able to love deeply with a heart full of compassion and grace", that is perfect.
    I think people don't realize how horribly common sexual abuse really is. Hopefully blog carnivals like this and programs such as SVU and the Oprah show your friend is on will increase awareness.

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  39. What a beautiful world you want for Katarina and what a beautiful name she carries. I have 4 daughters and this is the perfect description of the world I want for all of them. Thank you for your courage in sharing your experiences. She is truly blessed to have you as a mom.

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