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.
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.