I’m not one to dive into the middle of a headline making story. I tend to leave that to those with much more knowledge and skill than I. But, I can’t stay silent on this one. I just can’t.

It’s so much easier for me to avoid the news and turn a blind eye to what’s happening around our nation, but when I find myself doing that, I’m also doing that to those around me- in my home, my neighborhood, and my community.

Maybe you’ve been in seclusion, on a silent retreat, or you lost power as a result of Hurricane Matthew over the weekend. But a quick catch up. On Friday, a certain news organization released a tape from 2005 of one of the presidential candidates (I’ll let you guess which one) having a conversation with another reporter. In essence he was bragging about how he gets women and how he has special advantages with them by having celebrity status. His words were vulgar, disgraceful, and offensive to anyone brave enough to press play. Not to mention he had just married his third wife, and was also discussing how he was trying to get another married woman in bed (by buying her stuff!).

Now, this is not a post about politics and the presidential candidates. There’s plenty of writers who are doing that well right now so I’m not going to try and enter that space.

What I want to draw attention to is the sexual assault on women- and more disturbingly, the acceptance of it in society and among certain leaders. Maybe sexual assault has become so rampant it’s become normalized. Or maybe because they don’t see the devastating results. Or maybe some are just so hungry for power, they just don’t care who they have to crush to get there.

I came across a Twitter thread Saturday evening of a girl who began the hashtag #notokay. She asked women to share their experience of sexual assault. After posting her own experiences, (she said she had planned to delete the post if no one responded) stories began pouring in.

I tried to read through the thread, but it was never-ending. Each woman, each story, each tweet I read and my heart just broke more and more.

She later sent this tweet.

notokay

I could have posted my own experience. I was 14, at a church youth event. An older boy tried grope me. Thought I’d done something wrong since I said he was cute.

If you’re a woman reading this, you might have your own story. What’s sad is so many do. What’s tragic are those in a position of leadership who are unwilling to say something. At the very least say, #NOTOKAY.

What is it going to take?

I don’t know how the issue of “rape culture” and sexual assault can be solved. It feels overwhelming. Where do you begin when those who have “power” feel entitled to do with women as they wish. Where do you begin when those who have a microphone say to the world, “boys will be boys”, “that’s just locker room talk”, and “that is what all men do”.

Because I don’t believe it and I don’t think a lot of people believe that. I believe there are men who have conviction and know how to treat women. (Unfortunately we just don’t elect them to positions of leadership.)

While I can’t do much to change the media, hollywood, or the GOP leadership, I can do something. This is what I can do.

1. Raise My Boys Right.

I have three young boys in my house who I am raising to be men. Godly men who treat every woman in a respectable, honoring way. Just this last week I had to discipline one of my sons for his behavior toward one of my daughters. Did it cross the “sexual assault” line? No. But I can see the path and how it could lead there one day. We dealt with that situation for two days because at the very least he’s going to think twice about every action and word he speaks to his sisters. He knows it will not slide and he will not get away with it in our home. Ever. Or he will have a miserable life until he learns.

A man doesn’t suddenly start treating women like trash. It starts when they are little boys. It continues with how they start treating girls in elementary school and middle school.

Our boys will one day leave our home knowing and believing that every girl is created in the image of God and to be respected as so. They are not objects meant for the pleasure of men; they are not trophies to be won.

2. Teach My Girls Truth.

I have two girls in my home too. This is an area that scares me more than anything, but I can’t hover and protect them every time, every where- as much as I want to. So we talk about everything we can, in every situation we can. I can’t guarantee nothing will ever happen to one of my daughters, but I can teach them what to do if it does.

Our girls will one day leave our home knowing and believing that they are created in the image of God and they will have the self-respect to be treated as such. They are not the objects of men’s pleasure and they are not anyone’s trophy.

There’s a lot of things I can’t do, and it’s frustrating. But there’s a few things I can. I can speak out when I see it, I can support women who experienced it, and I can train my kids to know and do better.

Mandy Sig