Why Things You Can’t Take is so relevant right now...
I first thought to write Things You Can’t Take because my childhood best friend said, “write a book about us!” To be honest, I didn’t even come close to describing the depth of the friendship she and I had as children, but Abigail and Kessia have their own unique, deep bond. They also have their own story.
As I designed the plotline, people told me to be careful about this story because sexual assault and rape are really sensitive topics, which makes it difficult to get right in a book. For some reason, despite the nay-sayers who told me how risky this would be, I saw this story clearly in my mind, and there was no stopping me. I feel very brave for following through with it.
I am completely mystified by the timing of this book’s release. I wrote half of the story before my kids got out of school for the summer in 2017, and yet I was able to finish the first draft of the manuscript in September of 2017 - right when sexual assault became big headline news. Specifically in the entertainment industry. And even more specifically, by a big-shot Hollywood producer.
I don’t believe in coincidences. I believe there was something intangible telling me it was time to write about sexual assault, and I became driven to write this story. It seemed fitting to have it take place in the entertainment industry. All the right elements were there, and the most important element was an industry where there were people in power, people with influence. Because where there is power and ego, there is great chance for abuse.
It’s not just in the entertainment industry that sexual assault is being highlighted. Industries including sports, modeling, education, politics, journalism, are also being cracked open, exposing the sickness (is that the right word?) and abuse that’s so heavily prevalent in those professions.
It’s about time we press a reset button on the subject. We have to re-evaluate what has been going on for decades, covered up and deemed acceptable. It turns out we’re facing a bigger problem than we anticipated.
Now that we see an obvious problem, what do we do?
I certainly don’t have all the answers. But I have a few ideas that might help. I had a really great conversation with one of my neighbors, who said, “How can we teach our girls (boys can be victims too, but in this case we were talking about our girls) to help protect each other?” That is a really great question, because I think one of the greatest issues that causes sexual assault to go unreported is victim shaming.
Our girls (or boys) looking out for one another isn’t just using the buddy system at a party. It’s speaking out when you see or hear any wrong-doing happening to another person or friend. Another great task is supporting each other instead of shaming each other. We ought to LISTEN when someone tells us about abuse, and take it seriously. I hope to raise my kids with that kind of strength and integrity. Not just to protect themselves, but to help protect their friends too.
My last piece of advice on the subject is to continue the conversation with your kids. When they’re little, start by setting a good example for them. Behave and treat each other the way that would make you proud if they behaved the same way as adults. When they get a little older, teach them about respect for others AND self-respect, and what a healthy relationship should look like for them. Let them know it’s okay to speak out if they ever feel uncomfortable. It could be to a peer, a family member or an adult, but to speak to anyone who can help.
And if your children do choose to share something with you, LISTEN. And continue the conversation. Let it grow as they grow. Even after they leave for college. Even after they become young adults in the “real world.” Keep talking to them about the appropriate ways to treat each other and support each other.
Let’s start by being a leading example and teach our children to be a part of the solution.
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