Published: Jupiter Courier - August 2015

The school bell is about to ring and while mothers of preteen students are busy filling backpacks with notebooks, pencils, markers and assorted necessities, mothers of college-aged girls are also preparing to pack bags. For parents of young women heading off to schools of higher education the sight of suitcases in the hallway can be traumatic. Yes, tuition is a frightening reality—one that could play havoc with your savings account for many years. Eventually though, the bills will be paid and your daughters will begin earning their own way in the world. That’s a good thing.

Unfortunately, there is another frightening reality—one which many parents refuse to accept—mothers, in particular. Whenever I speak to individuals and groups about the need for all women regardless of their age to take responsibility for their own safety, it is inevitably the mothers of daughters in the last years of high school or about to enter college who balk at the suggestion. They seem to resent being advised that their daughters need to be careful about the who, where and how of enjoying themselves. As the mother of a rape survivor, I wish I had known eight years ago the things I know now.

Taking responsibility does not mean denying oneself a good time. It doesn’t mean you cannot party with your friends or drink or dress provocatively. It does, however, mean that the good times will not be marred by painful memories in years to come

If I had a penny (even as worthless as pennies have become) for every time I’ve heard “rite of passage,” I would be very wealthy. I always think that people are confusing “rite” with “right” because although you do have the right to go, dress and behave as your choose, the rite that you may be participating in could be rape. Here is where I get the most flack. Invariably, there will be one mother who will spout the feminist line about how what you wear has no correlation to rape… and that is true to a certain degree. Rapists aren’t necessarily drawn to sexy attire unless that attire will make it hard for the intended victim to get away. Just try running in five inch heels. See how far you get. Consider that being unconscious in a pool of vomit, whether wearing a designer dress or a suit of armor, is not only unattractive, it’s also an open invitation to every pervert lurking nearby.

College is a transitional period for all students. Both males and females get their first taste of freedom and, more often than not, they are unprepared for the dangers inherent in the absence of parental supervision. Despite what some factions would like you to believe, not all men are potential rapists. However, there are rapists in college just as there are everywhere in life. Date rape is a controversial subject which I will not address here. My comments are generalizations meant to keep all women safe throughout their lives.

No woman deserves to be raped. Choosing to go naked through the streets does not qualify a female as being rape worthy. Nothing a woman does… no manner of behavior… justifies abuse. However, if you are going to dress provocatively, if you are going to drink to excess, if you are going to habituate areas that are less than safe, you had best be aware that the fact that you don't deserve to be raped means nothing to a rapist.

Women should able to do as they please without fear of assault, but we don't exist between the pages of a story book where the princess lives happily ever after. This is real life and here the princess can wake up brutally beaten—if she is lucky enough to wake up at all. Why? Because she chose to protect herself with rhetoric rather than reason.

Don’t be a victim. Don’t allow your daughters to be victims. Talk to your children about the danger in acting irresponsibly. Mottos and slogans can’t save your life, but here’s one that might detour you and your family out of harm’s way: “Think before you drink.” Let’s make that motto even simpler—“Just think.” And don’t expect someone else to protect you. That’s your job.