I’ve started the long task of writing everyone who has reached out to me and my family. If I haven’t written or responded I promise I will. There are hundreds of letters and comments. The words of kindness from total strangers has meant the world to us. They’ve come from all over: Yemen, France, all over the United States, New Zealand, Australia, South Africa, Germany, Japan, everywhere. I get them on Twitter, Facebook, posted here, and in our mailbox at home. I’m trying my best not to let one fall through.
Many are from mothers. Mothers with daughters and sons. Mothers making commitments to raise their children to stand up for those hurting and to make the world better. Many of them are also from fathers, horrified at the thought of what happened to my daughter.
Some from survivors. People who have been through hell. People hurting and scarred. It was hard to read words written as if they were penned from my daughters hand, and really, I guess they were. It angers me deeply the hear the same story of indifference from the very system that failed us has failed many others as well. I just can’t understand why blame is so easy to unleash on a rape victim. It is such a gutless thing to do.
I reached out to Sarelle Sheldon this past week. She told her story to the nation and that took courage and strength. She is a brave young lady with a story much more common than we’d like to think. Her’s is not a story of rape, it’s a story of survival. And of our failure to help. She states that she “did not fathom that my message would be able to reach such great heights and so quickly at that. I am at ease hearing that others too are shocked and appalled by the reactions of the police. I feel a sense of satisfaction hearing that other survivors too are gaining even more strength to come forward.” Thank you Sarelle!
Some of the comments I’ve received are hard to read and harder still to get my head around. Why was Rehtaeh at a party? Why was she drinking? What was she wearing? Was she flirting? What kind of father am I?
As if a rapist wouldn’t attack a women if she was sober, sitting quietly at home, dressed conservatively, and her father was an idol of parenthood. Because rapists never rape girls like that. Right Tom in Toronto? Two long messages from you and not once did you give a hint at all that you thought Rehtaeh’s rape had anything to do with the people who actually raped her.
But this post isn’t about the people who are part of the problem. There’s far more people who want to be part of the solution. And to those I am thankful and I am grateful.
We meet with Prime Minister Harper again as well, along with other parents who have lost children under similar circumstances, Sheldon Kennedy, and the Canadian Centre for Child Protection. Together we’ve made a commitment to do whatever we can so victims have a voice and the police have the necessary tools they need to catch the predators, thugs, and cowards who hide online.
It was an honour to meet each and every one of them. The Canadian Centre for Child Protection is doing unbelievable work protecting our children.
This fight has just begun.