27 years ago my wife died

Our daughters were four and one at the time. Our youngest had not yet begun to speak. For the last 27 years I have advocated for them and will continue to do so until I die. Even then I doubt I will stop.

I tell them I love them every single time I speak with them. Every opportunity I have I tell them how wonderful, beautiful, talented and thoughtful they are. I tell them that whatever they decide to do in life that the most important thing they can do is to be happy. That happiness comes from within and if they can be happy then nothing else matters. But the most important thing I taught them was that it was safe to talk with me about anything. It hasn’t always been easy and I could tell you some stories, but to this day they still come to me when they’re trying to figure things out. I try not to tell them what to do but I share what has worked for me. That way they can take what they like and leave the rest. But ultimately they are the only ones who can solve the problem.

When they started dating I told them that any sign of disrespect by their boyfriends was something of which they should beware. I didn’t tell them that there were many people out their who believed that girls and women were some form of human less than men. I told them that they had a right to be treated with respect, to be treated as an equal. And if their boyfriend would not do that then they shouldn’t be in that relationship. I didn’t tell them that disrespect could be a precursor to violence.

To help protect them from violence I taught them to be aware of their surroundings. To know who was around them at all times. Not to trust a strange man with a dog. To keep a safe distance from strangers and to have an escape route. I taught them to watch other’s eyes when they were walking down the street. That would tell them if that person was watching them. And if they were watching them there was the possibility of danger so stay away. I taught them that if a situation didn’t feel right it probably wasn’t and they should extricate themselves as quickly as possible. I told them that if they were ever in a situation where they needed help that usually it would be safe to ask help from a woman and that they could always call me.

After they went off to college I saw a statistic that reported that one in four women would be assaulted during her time at college. I knew I couldn’t be there to protect my daughters every step of the way. The more research I did into sexual violence the more I realized that just being available to them wasn’t going to be enough. So I created this show to help bring awareness to the problem. My hope is that as a society we figure out how to put an end to sexual assault. Until we do so, I will continue to do this show.

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