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pray for Boston, Boston Marathon, Boston, Mr.Rogers, look for the helpers

Mister Rogers, Look for the Helpers, Boston, Boston Marathon, bombing, good peopleThe above quote is how I am choosing to teach my children to go forward in the world in the wake of these tragic events that keep plaguing our world. The alternative is to lock them away forever. Yesterday, something terrible happened at the Boston Marathon as the rest of us sat helplessly and watched it all unfold from across the country and across the world. We watched horrified as the unspeakable happened to unsuspecting runners, loved ones cheering them on and Bostonians celebrating Patriot’s day. In the blink of an eye, two bombs exploded, injuring over 170 people and killing 3, including an 8-year-old boy, Martin Richard, who was watching the Boston Marathon with his mother, father and 6-year-old sister. He was killed and his family was critically injured.His sister, lost her leg in the explosion. I have my own 8 and almost 6-year-old, I know all too well how small and fragile those small children are and the thought of something bad happening to them stops me cold and keeps me awake at night.

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What to do if your child is threatened, school shooting, Run, hide, fight

What to do if your child is threatened at school? We don’t like to think about things like active shooters or bombings, do we? We’d like to believe that we know what we’d do. We’d protect our children, at all costs. But the truth is you have no idea how you would react if your child is threatened. I didn’t. It’s one of those fight or flight circumstances, you either run away and hide or you fight tooth and nail to keep your child safe in the situation. The intention is the same; save the child.

My fourth grader came home last Friday from school and said, “Mommy, I got this creepy note from school.” She threw the note at me from the back seat. I was expecting some weird cryptic message from some fellow student at school but that wasn’t what she got at all. Our school had come under threat from one of the children who attended the school and none of us were told until after the fact.

I was mad and terrified at the same time because how are you supposed to know what to do if your child is threatened? How do you protect your child from unseen or unanticipated dangers?

It was a letter from the school, alerting the parents that there had been a “situation” a “THREAT” at the school. We all know that is code for a Columbine/ Sandy Hook situation in the making. For a moment, I lost it…very quietly in my head because even though I was terrified, I couldn’t scare my children. They have to go to that place every day and they need to feel safe even if I don’t. I told them very little about the note. They just know there was an incident.

My daughters live in a very different world from the one I grew up in. I didn’t have drills to practice in case a “polar bear” got loose in the building and went on a “growling” spree. My mom’s last words to me every morning before school as she kissed me goodbye were not, “Love you! Remember if a “polar bear” gets in the building…bob and weave. Never run in a straight line!” We didn’t have to know active shooter protocol or what the acronym REHF meant. That’s run, escape, hide and fight for those of you who are not preparing for “polar bears” bearing down your hallways with an AK47s by the way.

I mean, what the hell is that? But it’s one of those things I need to say. Just like its compulsory that both of my children take their iPhones to school “in case of emergency” like the emergency that happened to Eddie Justice in the bathroom of the Pulse Nightclub in Orlando.

At school board meetings we have to discuss things like escape windows, bulletproof screens and hurricane doors to keep the danger out. We have security measures in place in case a strange “polar bear” shows up to terrorize our children but what about when there is a “polar bear” in student’s clothing? How do we protect our children from the unseen threats?

I’m not going to lie, the note and the intended threat that prompted it have shaken me as a mom. Every morning that I drop my kids off at school, I don’t want to. What if today is the day that a child makes good on an assumed idol threat? What if it wasn’t “just a threat”? What if it was a promise? What if it was a cry for help that went unnoticed? What if this is the last time I see my child alive?

I’ve had a knot in the pit of my stomach now for a week because we were not given all the facts. How could we be? It concerns a minor. We have to trust that the school is doing all that it can to protect our children from threats and polar bears and crazy people with guns. It’s hard to trust in others to protect your children in today’s world.

Of course, as a parent, the thought of someone putting our babies in danger is cause for pitchforks and rioting. We are all very upset. Why wasn’t school canceled? Why were we not told until the end of the day by way of a “creepy note”. Why would a child tell other children maliciously that they are “on my list”? What do we do? Where do we go from here?

The child was suspended which is what I consider a time-out. Not expelled, not ordered to compulsory psychiatric treatment but given the legally mandated slap on the wrist and called a bad boy.

I don’t know who the kid is and I don’t know what he might be going through. It might all be terrible and maybe he deserves my compassion and understanding but when it’s my child who is being put in danger, that all goes out the window. I am not reasonable when you threaten the most important thing in my world. I am outraged. I am mad. I want to feel secure again but I can’t.

But I pretend that I am for my girls. I teach my kids what to do in case of an emergency. I send them with their phones and tell them to bob and weave. I hug them tight and kiss them goodbye every single morning knowing that this could be the last time I see them while acting like everything is alright; like this is normal. Because this is our new normal.

I just want my daughters to be safe and less vulnerable when they are at school; when they are anywhere. What are my options? Put them in a bubble? Homeschool? Hide them away and make them think the world is a fairytale where everything and everyone is good? To lie to them?

I can’t, no matter how much I may want to because the world is not any of those things and I don’t want them to spend their lives hiding from life. I want them to explore, be carefree and adventurous. I want them to embrace all that life has to offer and you can’t do that from inside the safety of a prison of your mom’s making. So, I send them out into the world every day prepared (unknowingly) for the worst, hoping for the best and (me) praying for survival.

No matter how much we want to believe it, we cannot protect our children when they are outside of our care. We can only teach them to survive and advocate for their safety. I’m not trying to scare you. I know we are all already living with this fear. I just wanted you to know that it’s not just something that happens someplace else to someone else’s child.

Do you know what to do if your child is threatened from someone inside the school?

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run, hide, fight, how to survive an active shooter event, Shelter in place, gun control

How do you feel about raising kids in a time when it is necessary that they are taught run hide fight protocol as a means to how to survive an active shooter event. It’s not weird to them. It’s the norm and that scares me. There’s even a handy Run. Hide. Fight. pocket card to help you remember what to do in those stressful times.

They don’t even come home freaked out when they are told to run, hide and fight when there is a potential that there might be a “wild polar bear” loose in the hallways.  Yeah, that’s what the principal has code-named “active shooters” as to not “frighten” the children. They’re not frightened. I’m terrified and I have been since Sandy Hook.  Every single morning at drop off, every time I hear a siren during the school day and I cross my fingers, pray and hope that at pick up two in tack healthy children are returned to me. This is my life.

But our government is having an issue pulling the trigger on common sense gun control, which is ironic because I believe they are all very concerned with the citizens of the United States maintaining their “right to bear arms.” You think at the very least, they’d know how to pull the trigger and shoot.

The bottom line is that people like me want all the guns to magically disappear because we’d feel safer sending our kids to school for 7 hours a day, out from our watchful eye learning to live in the world, like normal people. People who place a higher value on keeping their guns can’t seem to reconcile how to protect our children and keep their right to bear arms. So, they deflect; mental illness, a rogue gunman, anomaly, and my favorite, “the bad guys will still find a way to get guns! I need to be able to protect myself!”

The response is that maybe we should arm our teachers. What? We don’t pay teachers enough money for all the work they do, as is. We entrust our children’s education and safety to them for pennies. It’s insulting really. Teachers should be paid like doctors because as far as I am concerned they are doing something just as important, every single day. Why would we add to their responsibility and give them guns? They are trained to expand our children’s minds not take down an active shooter. They are not trained officers of the law. This is ridiculous.

I would never expect a teacher to be the marksman who has to stand between my child and an active shooter. Have you met a teacher? They are, generally, wonderful, good people who genuinely care about children and want to help them learn and grow in the world. In the moment of truth, I think most teachers would throw themselves in harm’s way to protect their students but they shouldn’t have to.  This isn’t the world we should accept. We need to protect both the teachers and the students.

A school shouldn’t be a dangerous place to go. Going to see a movie shouldn’t be risky. Shopping at the mall with your tweens shouldn’t be potentially life-threatening. I, you, we shouldn’t have to hold our breath and pray every single time our children walk out the door that someone doesn’t murder them simply because they can and they have access to guns.

Today, I was scanning my Facebook feed and a video was shared of a thing called “Shelter in Place” which is basically, a bulletproof room built into the classroom equipped with cameras on the outside so that the classroom after loaded into the makeshift panic room can see when it’s clear. They say takes a few days to install and about 30 seconds to load the entire classroom of children and teacher into the “shelter”. I’m wondering what your thoughts are about this?

Here are mine, do I love that it can potentially save my children from a gone wielding maniac? YES! Do I want to live in a world where my children have to live every minute of every single day on the defensive just in case a lunatic with a gun decides he’s having a bad day and wants to shoot them because our government won’t impose common-sense gun control because their egos are more important to them than my child’s life? No!

People have told me that guns don’t kill people, people kill people. This is true but if there were no guns, people couldn’t use guns to kill people. They’ve told me that no matter what.. the “bad people” will always find a way to get guns. And I ask them, is there a secret “bad guy” arms dealer that passes out cards and everyone knows how to find because I’m pretty sure that there are a lot of lazy people out there and if it were harder to get guns, they’d give up trying. Maybe they’d use knives or fists like a real man, give a victim a chance to retaliate.

I’m pretty positive that not every thug on the street or mentally unstable person with an ax to grind would find a gun but when you can walk into any gun store and get one, that makes a difference.

I won’t lie, if it were up to me, no one would have guns but the police and the military because they are trained to use their weapons and that is their job. I get that people don’t like to be stripped of their rights but people also need to realize that the constitution was written at a time when the right to bear arms was necessary. We didn’t have a competent military yet and the people needed to be ready to form a militia and fight if need be. They needed to have their own arms. It was like a BYOB party but the second B was actually a gun and the party was a war. Make sense now?

What I’m saying is that your right to bear arms argument doesn’t hold water these days. Just be honest, you “want” to own firearms because it makes you feel powerful in a world where most of us are powerless. It makes you feel strong in a world where we are vulnerable. But it’s false bravery. A gun is only as effective as the gun owner who is holding it. If you are not properly trained, just because you have a gun doesn’t mean you can actually protect yourself. In fact, you’ll probably just piss off an attacker and he’ll shoot you in the face.

That’s the thing, the bad guys aren’t announcing their attack. They are getting you when you are vulnerable; when you’re sleeping, watching a movie with your kid or your kid is at school trying to figure out that damn common core math or taking the iStep tests. My point is that if the guns were not available, a lot less innocent people would be getting murdered. Statistics don’t lie and as much as you want to argue with me and call me names, you know that is true.

I don’t want to take your guns away from you. I want to keep all of our kids safe. This isn’t about you or making you feel weak; it’s about protecting our children. It’s about not living in a world where our children don’t even scoff or think anything is scary about being taught to run, hide and fight. They just do it. It’s about not having to teach my girls to bob and weave if they escape. It’s about not having to have secret words and panic rooms in classrooms. It’s about not having to worry if your child’s teacher is the sort who would through himself between a bullet and your child. It’s about all of us feeling a little safer, a little braver and a little kinder. It’s about polar bears not being a threat in the hallway, a movie theater, a concert or a mall ever again.

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mass shooting, gun control, LGBTQ, Orlando, Florida, Pulse, Shooting, Gay Community, Pride, Omar Mateen, Eddie Justice, Mina Justice

My heart has been breaking since learning about the mass shooting that took place at “Orlando’s Premier Gay club”, Pulse, early Sunday morning leaving 49 victims dead and 53 wounded. I’m saddened and sickened for so many reasons. I could write about ISIS, terrorism, bigotry, racism and hate but what saddens me the most is that 49 mothers and fathers lost their child last night because a lunatic with a gun decided he wanted it to be so.

49 unsuspecting people thought it was just another Saturday night. Actually, it was a pretty special night, it was the eve of Pride Day. If ever there was a night to celebrate as a LGBTQ person (or a human being for that matter) it is the night when we all feel like there is a little less hate and lot more love and acceptance in the world. A day when we feel closer to a world of human equality and further from separation.Today the entire world feels vulnerable and helpless; victimized and terrified. We are angry that this was allowed to happen again but don’t let the anger turn to hate. Hate is what got us here to this moment of childless mothers and fathers, in the first place.

That’s what I was feeling yesterday, as I rode the 15-hour drive home from Boston and saw all the smiling, celebratory faces of my friends, celebrating at Pride Parades and block parties. I felt the pride all last week while I was in Boston and glorious rainbows adorned all of the buildings and landmarks around the city. I could feel the acceptance in the air, it was palpable.

But last night, the ugliness of hatred and stupidity reared up its head and stole the lives of 49 children from their parents. No, they were not small children like the victims of Sandy Hook but anyone who has a child knows that our children are always “our children” no matter how old or how big they get. It is our most primal instinct to protect them and love them as fiercely as our hearts will allow; to give our lives in place of theirs without hesitation or thought.

When I read the story of Mina Justice and the texts that she received from her terrified son, Eddie Justice, while he hid in the bathroom from a gun wielding bigot, afraid for his life, my heart shattered into a million pieces. It’s horrid that any one person had to die so senselessly in such a brutal way for no reason at all other than for being who they were meant to be and loving who they were born to love. But to see his own words in the texts to his mother; to know his fear was almost too much to bare. I can only imagine what his mother must have been feeling.

As a mother, I wanted to crawl into the fetal position and die. I wanted to run to this mother and hold her and tell her that it was all going to be alright. That her son was fine. Like this was some primetime drama and at the end, everybody would walk away just fine and the bad man would be apprehended but that’s not how it happens in real life.

In real life, bad things happen to good people. Terrible unthinkable things happen to unsuspecting people who’ve done nothing more than live their lives, openly and freely. Mothers and fathers, sisters and brothers, lose their loved ones because bad people with no scruples are allowed to obtain guns because, apparently, the right to bear arms trumps the right to live in our United States.

We are becoming desensitized to the point where when we see shootings on the news, it’s no longer shocking unless it’s a mass shooting.

People are outraged, screaming that terrorists are targeting and murdering the LGBTQ community and I agree with their outrage but for me, it’s much simpler. Someone murdered 49 children, his name was Omar Mateen.  He was an American-born man, a domestic terrorist, who called 911 before carrying out this ghastly task and pledged his allegiance to ISIS, while referencing the Boston Marathon bombers. He then chose to gun down 50 innocent people. This is the deadliest mass shooting in the United States and the nation’s worst terror attack since 9/11.

Mateen somehow managed to carry an assault rifle and a pistol into a packed club around 2 a.m. Sunday morning and started shooting, he murdered 49 people and wounded at least 53. After a three-hour standoff, while 350 people were trapped inside the club desperately calling and messaging friends and relatives, police crashed into the building with an armored vehicle and stun grenades and killed Mateen.

Omar Mateen was 29-years-old, lived in Fort Pierce, Florida and had been interviewed not once but twice, in 2013 and again in 2014, by the FBI but was found both times to not be a threat. They were wrong. In the past two weeks Mateen legally purchased a Glock pistol and a long gun, ATF Assistant Special Agent in Charge Trevor Velinor told reporters.

Authorities spoke with Mateen’s father and ex-wife and both said that Omar Mateen was not particularly religious but his father said that recently, Omar saw two men kissing in Miami and it offended him. His ex-wife says that she thinks he was bipolar but was never formally diagnosed. Sounds to me like he was a bigot with a gun; a bully.

49 moms and dads are beside themselves trying to figure out how to live without their children alive to love. 49 childless mothers are sobbing primally because their world has been destroyed. 49 childless fathers are looking at the door expecting their child to return, knowing they never will; feeling a void that is so massive that it feels as if their heart will crush beneath the weight of it.

Today the entire world feels vulnerable and helpless; victimized and terrified. We are angry that this was allowed to happen again but don’t let the anger turn to hate. Hate is what got us here to this moment of childless mothers and fathers, in the first place.

Channel your hatred, anger, helplessness and vulnerability into change. Donate blood. Be kind to strangers. Treat people as humans. Don’t judge people for who they love, the color of their skin or the God they worship. Be a voice for the mothers and fathers who cannot speak or barely breathe, those who lost everything because one evil man was able to possess a gun and with that gun he chose to murder people just because he could.

We have to say no more, stand up for those who need protection and be the change we want to see in the world. The time for  expecting others to make things happen has passed. We have to vote, risk and force the change. Next time, it could be one of our children.

What would you be willing to risk in order to prevent another mass shooting?

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Emily Doe, victim statement, Brock Turner, Stanford, swimmer, rape, rapist, kid, roared, roar, tantrums, mommy moment, bad parenting

On January 17, 2015, former Stanford University student, Brock Turner, raped an inebriated 22-year-old woman, Emily Doe, behind a garbage dumpster after a frat party. There was no remorse on the part of Mr. Turner for raping someone, only the remorse of being caught. We are all Emily Doe. This could have happened to any of us. It has happened to many of us (to one degree or another) and it will happen to many more of us, if we don’t fight to change it. In fact, it will happen to your daughter, and your granddaughters and all those daughters that come after that.

The attack was only stopped when two Swedish PhD students, Carl Fredrik-Arndt and Peter Jonsson, were cycling past on their way to a party. When the two heroes saw that Turner was on top of an unconscious woman, they stopped, tackled Turner and pinned him down until police could arrive and arrest him. They didn’t have to stop, in fact, most people wouldn’t have stopped they would have gone on about their business.

Because let’s be honest, most people don’t want to be bothered by the inconvenience. It’s so much easier not to get involved. So people pretend they don’t see it happening; the frightened woman on the subway with the stranger’s hand on her ass, the drunk girl at the party being carried off to another room by a group of guys or even the businesswoman walking down the street being harassed by catcalls by men so far beneath her station that the closest thing they’ll ever get to talking to her is yelling sexually lewd epithets at her.

This March, Turner was found guilty of three counts of sexual assault and last Thursday Turner faced a maximum of 14 years in state prison but instead was only sentenced to six months in a county jail and probation. He must also complete a sex offender management program and register as a convicted sex offender for the rest of his life.   This is a slap on the wrist and an insult to his victim. Apparently, membership in the club of white penis has its privileges. I’ve seen worse punishments bestowed on POC simply for being of color.

I’ve been avoiding the news the last few days because I wanted to enjoy my time with my family. After last week’s fiasco, I know to truly enjoy my life and time with my family I have to unplug. Then I stumbled across Facebook and I saw the photo of Brock Turner as the clean-cut good kid. Then I saw the actual mug shot and honestly, what does it matter what a rapist looks like? If you rape a woman you are a rapist. How well you dress or clean shaven you are, doesn’t make it okay or make you less of a rapist.

Brock Turner, Stanford University, rape culture, misogyny, campus rape

I’m sitting on vacation, reading the transcript of Emily Doe’s impact statement. As I listen to my little girl’s playing and giggling in the background, I am pushing down the lump in my throat and it is taking everything in my body not to start sobbing right here in the pool room at the Hyatt Regency. I didn’t realize that I’d be triggered but I was. Rape culture is alive and well and is not going anywhere soon. If anything, it’s growing momentum.

I want to cry for the victim; for what she has had to endure and her revictimization by a system that has failed her. I want to cry for my daughters who will one day soon be at college, alone without me to protect them from the evils of the world. I want to cry for every young woman who has ever gone doe-eyed and naively into the world and not expected to be victimized; myself included.

The judge was lenient on Brock Turner because he was an athlete, had a promising future and could possibly have even gone to the Olympics; made all of us Americans proud in the fucking 100-meter dash or some fucking shit like that. He got six months for ruining this woman’s life because in the world we live in, women’s lives don’t matter. We might have “equal rights” but really we will never be considered as valuable as men. He could have been an Olympian, what is she? Just another drunk girl at a party; or so Brock Turner, his father and the judge would have you believe. Just a poor dumb girl, who drank too much and had some drinker’s remorse the next day.

I used to be that girl. No, actually I was what Brock Turner and his attorneys would have you believe his victim was so I was actually much worse. I used to drink a lot in college. I would black out on occasion. I went to frat parties and I loved to flirt. I was the touchy-feely girl who loved attention and liked to have fun but I was a virgin until I was in college. Sure, I had boyfriends and there was dry humping, marathon make-out sessions and all that other shit you do when you just haven’t done the deed yet but I never consented to more. I wouldn’t because I hadn’t and I didn’t want to yet.

But there were times when I was drinking and guys got a little too aggressive in their advances. I remember once I was visiting a friend and I’d met a guy who was visiting her boyfriend, after a night of drinking and hanging out, I woke up to feel him pressed up against me and kissing me. I pushed him off but by the time I had woken up, he’d already been touching my body. I don’t know for how long, I was passed out. But I didn’t do anything about it because I felt partially responsible. Even though there was no consent and no making out before I passed out, I felt responsible for letting myself get into this vulnerable position because that is how this society has conditioned women to believe. If we are assaulted, we must have done something to encourage it.

Then there was the time I was at a frat party and a group of brothers from another university came to the party. I was a little sister at the fraternity, so I was comfortable and even felt safe at the house. A cute walkout started talking to me and one thing led to another, the flirting was in high gear and then in the middle of a room full of people, he pushed my head into his lap. I was drinking but that sobered me up immediately. I felt vulnerable, threatened (in a room full of guys) and angry. Luckily, the president of the frat (a friend of mine) saw the whole thing happen and literally, kicked the guy out of the house. Of course, then he spent the night “comforting” me. I let him because I felt like I owed him. I didn’t want his advances but it felt safer than some stranger shoving my face in his crotch and becoming an unwilling participant in a gang rape.

Then there was the time I was at a college bar with my friends and the star basketball player came up behind me and started grinding on me. I gently moved away. He followed in pursuit. Then he came in front of me, grabbed me by my ass and lifted me up around his waist and started trying to kiss me. No one did anything. I was terrified. I didn’t want his advances. I did not invite him to do any of this. I was minding my own business. No one helped me. I wiggled myself out of his grip and ran out of the bar. When a friend found me outside, she did not care if I was alright or if I was shaken. Her question was, “Don’t you know who that was?”

Or the time I was working at a retail chain as a teenager and the security guys called me back into the security room. I thought they needed a female employee as a witness as they questioned a suspected female shoplifter because that was protocol. Instead, when I got back there at 9 at night, when we were working on a skeleton crew, the two grown men, locked the door and started making comments on how I looked in my uniform. They told me that they liked watching me on the cameras and told me to my face, as they laughed, “You know we could do anything we wanted to you in here and no one would even hear us.” I was trembling I was so terrified.

How about the time I was at a cop party with my friend and a married cop tried to make advances towards me and when I said no because he was married (plus I wasn’t interested) he told me that I should think twice before driving alone in his city ever again because he could pull me over late at night on a dark road and it wouldn’t matter if I was interested or not.

The thing is as I read the victim’s account of what had happened to her, I was saddened and more than anything I was fuming mad. I’m trying to use my words but the problem is that I’m angry and I’m sick of the world giving men a hall pass for rape and attempted rape and acting like it’s a victimless crime. I could go on for pages listing all the different times I’ve been accosted to one degree or another.

Sometimes were worse than others. Sometimes things went further than I wanted them to go but I never felt like I could do anything about it because the truth is that no matter how good, bad, drunk, sober, promiscuous or frigid you are, if you are a woman, you have been made to feel vulnerable and unsafe in your lifetime; it is the curse of being born with a vagina.

We don’t have to do anything to precipitate an attack, they just happen and we just have to learn to live with it, apparently even in 2016. But this is bullshit. I don’t want my girls to ever feel this kind of vulnerability or fear of living. Why do we have to be cautious and careful before doing everything? Even a girl in a beige cardigan who did nothing to encourage her attacker’s advances still got raped, left like garbage on the side of a dumpster and her attacker only received six months jail time.

Even a girl in a beige cardigan who did nothing to encourage her attacker’s advances still got raped, left like garbage on the side of a dumpster and her attacker only received six months jail time. Apparently, that is all a woman’s life is worth. Her life is ruined; she will never be the same but it doesn’t really matter because a penis holds more value in this world than a vagina ever could. After all, we only propagate the species. He could have been an Olympian; she was always just a woman.

Emily Doe, Victim statement, swimmer,Brock Turner, Stanford University, rape culture, misogyny, campus rape

The scary thing is Brock Turner is not an anomaly. And it doesn’t matter what we do, how we dress, how much we do or don’t drink, we can all be the victim and this is what scares me the most. When are we going to teach our sons that it’s not okay to put their hands, fingers, mouths and dicks on women’s bodies without permission? When will our girls ever be able to feel safe to walk alone at night or have a vagina?

In case you don’t think rape is a serious crime that warrants more than a six-month inconvenience for the attacker, read the statement below from Brock Turner’s victim.

Your Honor, if it is all right, for the majority of this statement I would like to address the defendant directly.

You don’t know me, but you’ve been inside me, and that’s why we’re here today.

On January 17th, 2015, it was a quiet Saturday night at home. My dad made some dinner and I sat at the table with my younger sister who was visiting for the weekend. I was working full time and it was approaching my bed time. I planned to stay at home by myself, watch some TV and read, while she went to a party with her friends. Then, I decided it was my only night with her, I had nothing better to do, so why not, there’s a dumb party ten minutes from my house, I would go, dance like a fool, and embarrass my younger sister. On the way there, I joked that undergrad guys would have braces. My sister teased me for wearing a beige cardigan to a frat party like a librarian. I called myself “big mama”, because I knew I’d be the oldest one there. I made silly faces, let my guard down, and drank liquor too fast not factoring in that my tolerance had significantly lowered since college.

The next thing I remember I was in a gurney in a hallway. I had dried blood and bandages on the backs of my hands and elbow. I thought maybe I had fallen and was in an admin office on campus. I was very calm and wondering where my sister was. A deputy explained I had been assaulted. I still remained calm, assured he was speaking to the wrong person. I knew no one at this party. When I was finally allowed to use the restroom, I pulled down the hospital pants they had given me, went to pull down my underwear, and felt nothing. I still remember the feeling of my hands touching my skin and grabbing nothing. I looked down and there was nothing. The thin piece of fabric, the only thing between my vagina and anything else, was missing and everything inside me was silenced. I still don’t have words for that feeling. In order to keep breathing, I thought maybe the policemen used scissors to cut them off for evidence.

“You don’t know me, but you’ve been inside me, and that’s why we’re here today.”

Then, I felt pine needles scratching the back of my neck and started pulling them out my hair. I thought maybe, the pine needles had fallen from a tree onto my head. My brain was talking my gut into not collapsing. Because my gut was saying, help me, help me.

I shuffled from room to room with a blanket wrapped around me, pine needles trailing behind me, I left a little pile in every room I sat in. I was asked to sign papers that said “Rape Victim” and I thought something has really happened. My clothes were confiscated and I stood naked while the nurses held a ruler to various abrasions on my body and photographed them. The three of us worked to comb the pine needles out of my hair, six hands to fill one paper bag. To calm me down, they said it’s just the flora and fauna, flora and fauna. I had multiple swabs inserted into my vagina and anus, needles for shots, pills, had a Nikon pointed right into my spread legs. I had long, pointed beaks inside me and had my vagina smeared with cold, blue paint to check for abrasions.

After a few hours of this, they let me shower. I stood there examining my body beneath the stream of water and decided, I don’t want my body anymore. I was terrified of it, I didn’t know what had been in it, if it had been contaminated, who had touched it. I wanted to take off my body like a jacket and leave it at the hospital with everything else.

On that morning, all that I was told was that I had been found behind a dumpster, potentially penetrated by a stranger, and that I should get retested for HIV because results don’t always show up immediately. But for now, I should go home and get back to my normal life. Imagine stepping back into the world with only that information. They gave me huge hugs and I walked out of the hospital into the parking lot wearing the new sweatshirt and sweatpants they provided me, as they had only allowed me to keep my necklace and shoes.

My sister picked me up, face wet from tears and contorted in anguish. Instinctively and immediately, I wanted to take away her pain. I smiled at her, I told her to look at me, I’m right here, I’m okay, everything’s okay, I’m right here. My hair is washed and clean, they gave me the strangest shampoo, calm down, and look at me. Look at these funny new sweatpants and sweatshirt, I look like a P.E. teacher, let’s go home, let’s eat something. She did not know that beneath my sweatsuit, I had scratches and bandages on my skin, my vagina was sore and had become a strange, dark color from all the prodding, my underwear was missing, and I felt too empty to continue to speak. That I was also afraid, that I was also devastated. That day we drove home and for hours in silence my younger sister held me.

My boyfriend did not know what happened, but called that day and said, “I was really worried about you last night, you scared me, did you make it home okay?” I was horrified. That’s when I learned I had called him that night in my blackout, left an incomprehensible voicemail, that we had also spoken on the phone, but I was slurring so heavily he was scared for me, that he repeatedly told me to go find [fusion_builder_container hundred_percent=”yes” overflow=”visible”][fusion_builder_row][fusion_builder_column type=”1_1″ background_position=”left top” background_color=”” border_size=”” border_color=”” border_style=”solid” spacing=”yes” background_image=”” background_repeat=”no-repeat” padding=”” margin_top=”0px” margin_bottom=”0px” class=”” id=”” animation_type=”” animation_speed=”0.3″ animation_direction=”left” hide_on_mobile=”no” center_content=”no” min_height=”none”][my sister]. Again, he asked me, “What happened last night? Did you make it home okay?” I said yes, and hung up to cry.

I was not ready to tell my boyfriend or parents that actually, I may have been raped behind a dumpster, but I don’t know by who or when or how. If I told them, I would see the fear on their faces, and mine would multiply by tenfold, so instead I pretended the whole thing wasn’t real.

I tried to push it out of my mind, but it was so heavy I didn’t talk, I didn’t eat, I didn’t sleep, I didn’t interact with anyone. After work, I would drive to a secluded place to scream. I didn’t talk, I didn’t eat, I didn’t sleep, I didn’t interact with anyone, and I became isolated from the ones I loved most. For over a week after the incident, I didn’t get any calls or updates about that night or what happened to me. The only symbol that proved that it hadn’t just been a bad dream, was the sweatshirt from the hospital in my drawer.

One day, I was at work, scrolling through the news on my phone, and came across an article. In it, I read and learned for the first time about how I was found unconscious, with my hair disheveled, long necklace wrapped around my neck, bra pulled out of my dress, dress pulled off over my shoulders and pulled up above my waist, that I was butt naked all the way down to my boots, legs spread apart, and had been penetrated by a foreign object by someone I did not recognize. This was how I learned what happened to me, sitting at my desk reading the news at work. I learned what happened to me the same time everyone else in the world learned what happened to me. That’s when the pine needles in my hair made sense, they didn’t fall from a tree. He had taken off my underwear, his fingers had been inside of me. I don’t even know this person. I still don’t know this person. When I read about me like this, I said, this can’t be me, this can’t be me. I could not digest or accept any of this information. I could not imagine my family having to read about this online. I kept reading. In the next paragraph, I read something that I will never forgive; I read that according to him, I liked it. I liked it. Again, I do not have words for these feelings.

“And then, at the bottom of the article, after I learned about the graphic details of my own sexual assault, the article listed his swimming times.”

It’s like if you were to read an article where a car was hit, and found dented, in a ditch. But maybe the car enjoyed being hit. Maybe the other car didn’t mean to hit it, just bump it up a little bit. Cars get in accidents all the time, people aren’t always paying attention, can we really say who’s at fault.

And then, at the bottom of the article, after I learned about the graphic details of my own sexual assault, the article listed his swimming times. She was found breathing, unresponsive with her underwear six inches away from her bare stomach curled in fetal position. By the way, he’s really good at swimming. Throw in my mile time if that’s what we’re doing. I’m good at cooking, put that in there, I think the end is where you list your extracurriculars to cancel out all the sickening things that’ve happened.

The night the news came out I sat my parents down and told them that I had been assaulted, to not look at the news because it’s upsetting, just know that I’m okay, I’m right here, and I’m okay. But halfway through telling them, my mom had to hold me because I could no longer stand up.

The night after it happened, he said he didn’t know my name, said he wouldn’t be able to identify my face in a lineup, didn’t mention any dialogue between us, no words, only dancing and kissing. Dancing is a cute term; was it snapping fingers and twirling dancing, or just bodies grinding up against each other in a crowded room? I wonder if kissing was just faces sloppily pressed up against each other? When the detective asked if he had planned on taking me back to his dorm, he said no. When the detective asked how we ended up behind the dumpster, he said he didn’t know. He admitted to kissing other girls at that party, one of whom was my own sister who pushed him away. He admitted to wanting to hook up with someone. I was the wounded antelope of the herd, completely alone and vulnerable, physically unable to fend for myself, and he chose me. Sometimes I think, if I hadn’t gone, then this never would’ve happened. But then I realized, it would have happened, just to somebody else. You were about to enter four years of access to drunk girls and parties, and if this is the foot you started off on, then it is right you did not continue. The night after it happened, he said he thought I liked it because I rubbed his back. A back rub.

Never mentioned me voicing consent, never mentioned us even speaking, a back rub. One more time, in public news, I learned that my ass and vagina were completely exposed outside, my breasts had been groped, fingers had been jabbed inside me along with pine needles and debris, my bare skin and head had been rubbing against the ground behind a dumpster, while an erect freshman was humping my half naked, unconscious body. But I don’t remember, so how do I prove I didn’t like it.

I thought there’s no way this is going to trial; there were witnesses, there was dirt in my body, he ran but was caught. He’s going to settle, formally apologize, and we will both move on. Instead, I was told he hired a powerful attorney, expert witnesses, private investigators who were going to try and find details about my personal life to use against me, find loopholes in my story to invalidate me and my sister, in order to show that this sexual assault was in fact a misunderstanding. That he was going to go to any length to convince the world he had simply been confused.

I was not only told that I was assaulted, I was told that because I couldn’t remember, I technically could not prove it was unwanted. And that distorted me, damaged me, almost broke me. It is the saddest type of confusion to be told I was assaulted and nearly raped, blatantly out in the open, but we don’t know if it counts as assault yet. I had to fight for an entire year to make it clear that there was something wrong with this situation.

“I was pummeled with narrowed, pointed questions that dissected my personal life, love life, past life, family life, inane questions, accumulating trivial details to try and find an excuse for this guy who had me half naked before even bothering to ask for my name. “

When I was told to be prepared in case we didn’t win, I said, I can’t prepare for that. He was guilty the minute I woke up. No one can talk me out of the hurt he caused me. Worst of all, I was warned, because he now knows you don’t remember, he is going to get to write the script. He can say whatever he wants and no one can contest it. I had no power, I had no voice, I was defenseless. My memory loss would be used against me. My testimony was weak, was incomplete, and I was made to believe that perhaps, I am not enough to win this. His attorney constantly reminded the jury, the only one we can believe is Brock, because she doesn’t remember. That helplessness was traumatizing.

Instead of taking time to heal, I was taking time to recall the night in excruciating detail, in order to prepare for the attorney’s questions that would be invasive, aggressive, and designed to steer me off course, to contradict myself, my sister, phrased in ways to manipulate my answers. Instead of his attorney saying, Did you notice any abrasions? He said, You didn’t notice any abrasions, right? This was a game of strategy, as if I could be tricked out of my own worth. The sexual assault had been so clear, but instead, here I was at the trial, answering questions like:

How old are you? How much do you weigh? What did you eat that day? Well what did you have for dinner? Who made dinner? Did you drink with dinner? No, not even water? When did you drink? How much did you drink? What container did you drink out of? Who gave you the drink? How much do you usually drink? Who dropped you off at this party? At what time? But where exactly? What were you wearing? Why were you going to this party? What’ d you do when you got there? Are you sure you did that? But what time did you do that? What does this text mean? Who were you texting? When did you urinate? Where did you urinate? With whom did you urinate outside? Was your phone on silent when your sister called? Do you remember silencing it? Really because on page 53 I’d like to point out that you said it was set to ring. Did you drink in college? You said you were a party animal? How many times did you black out? Did you party at frats? Are you serious with your boyfriend? Are you sexually active with him? When did you start dating? Would you ever cheat? Do you have a history of cheating? What do you mean when you said you wanted to reward him? Do you remember what time you woke up? Were you wearing your cardigan? What color was your cardigan? Do you remember any more from that night? No? Okay, well, we’ll let Brock fill it in.

I was pummeled with narrowed, pointed questions that dissected my personal life, love life, past life, family life, inane questions, accumulating trivial details to try and find an excuse for this guy who had me half naked before even bothering to ask for my name. After a physical assault, I was assaulted with questions designed to attack me, to say see, her facts don’t line up, she’s out of her mind, she’s practically an alcoholic, she probably wanted to hook up, he’s like an athlete right, they were both drunk, whatever, the hospital stuff she remembers is after the fact, why take it into account, Brock has a lot at stake so he’s having a really hard time right now.

And then it came time for him to testify and I learned what it meant to be revictimized. I want to remind you, the night after it happened he said he never planned to take me back to his dorm. He said he didn’t know why we were behind a dumpster. He got up to leave because he wasn’t feeling well when he was suddenly chased and attacked. Then he learned I could not remember.

So one year later, as predicted, a new dialogue emerged. Brock had a strange new story, almost sounded like a poorly written young adult novel with kissing and dancing and hand holding and lovingly tumbling onto the ground, and most importantly in this new story, there was suddenly consent. One year after the incident, he remembered, oh yeah, by the way she actually said yes, to everything, so.

He said he had asked if I wanted to dance. Apparently I said yes. He’d asked if I wanted to go to his dorm, I said yes. Then he asked if he could finger me and I said yes. Most guys don’t ask, can I finger you? Usually there’s a natural progression of things, unfolding consensually, not a Q and A. But apparently I granted full permission. He’s in the clear. Even in his story, I only said a total of three words, yes yes yes, before he had me half naked on the ground. Future reference, if you are confused about whether a girl can consent, see if she can speak an entire sentence. You couldn’t even do that. Just one coherent string of words. Where was the confusion? This is common sense, human decency.

According to him, the only reason we were on the ground was because I fell down. Note; if a girl falls down help her get back up. If she is too drunk to even walk and falls down, do not mount her, hump her, take off her underwear, and insert your hand inside her vagina. If a girl falls down help her up. If she is wearing a cardigan over her dress don’t take it off so that you can touch her breasts. Maybe she is cold, maybe that’s why she wore the cardigan.

Next in the story, two Swedes on bicycles approached you and you ran. When they tackled you why didn’t say, “Stop! Everything’s okay, go ask her, she’s right over there, she’ll tell you.” I mean you had just asked for my consent, right? I was awake, right? When the policeman arrived and interviewed the evil Swede who tackled you, he was crying so hard he couldn’t speak because of what he’d seen.

Your attorney has repeatedly pointed out, well we don’t know exactly when she became unconscious. And you’re right, maybe I was still fluttering my eyes and wasn’t completely limp yet. That was never the point. I was too drunk to speak English, too drunk to consent way before I was on the ground. I should have never been touched in the first place. Brock stated, “At no time did I see that she was not responding. If at any time I thought she was not responding, I would have stopped immediately.” Here’s the thing; if your plan was to stop only when I became unresponsive, then you still do not understand. You didn’t even stop when I was unconscious anyway! Someone else stopped you. Two guys on bikes noticed I wasn’t moving in the dark and had to tackle you. How did you not notice while on top of me?

You said, you would have stopped and gotten help. You say that, but I want you to explain how you would’ve helped me, step by step, walk me through this. I want to know, if those evil Swedes had not found me, how the night would have played out. I am asking you; Would you have pulled my underwear back on over my boots? Untangled the necklace wrapped around my neck? Closed my legs, covered me? Pick the pine needles from my hair? Asked if the abrasions on my neck and bottom hurt? Would you then go find a friend and say, Will you help me get her somewhere warm and soft? I don’t sleep when I think about the way it could have gone if the two guys had never come. What would have happened to me? That’s what you’ll never have a good answer for, that’s what you can’t explain even after a year.

On top of all this, he claimed that I orgasmed after one minute of digital penetration. The nurse said there had been abrasions, lacerations, and dirt in my genitalia. Was that before or after I came?

To sit under oath and inform all of us, that yes I wanted it, yes I permitted it, and that you are the true victim attacked by Swedes for reasons unknown to you is appalling, is demented, is selfish, is damaging. It is enough to be suffering. It is another thing to have someone ruthlessly working to diminish the gravity of validity of this suffering.

My family had to see pictures of my head strapped to a gurney full of pine needles, of my body in the dirt with my eyes closed, hair messed up, limbs bent, and dress hiked up. And even after that, my family had to listen to your attorney say the pictures were after the fact, we can dismiss them. To say, yes her nurse confirmed there was redness and abrasions inside her, significant trauma to her genitalia, but that’s what happens when you finger someone, and he’s already admitted to that. To listen to your attorney attempt to paint a picture of me, the face of girls gone wild, as if somehow that would make it so that I had this coming for me. To listen to him say I sounded drunk on the phone because I’m silly and that’s my goofy way of speaking. To point out that in the voicemail, I said I would reward my boyfriend and we all know what I was thinking. I assure you my rewards program is non transferable, especially to any nameless man that approaches me.

“This is not a story of another drunk college hook­up with poor decision making. Assault is not an accident.”

He has done irreversible damage to me and my family during the trial and we have sat silently, listening to him shape the evening. But in the end, his unsupported statements and his attorney’s twisted logic fooled no one. The truth won, the truth spoke for itself.

You are guilty. Twelve jurors convicted you guilty of three felony counts beyond reasonable doubt, that’s twelve votes per count, thirty ­six yeses confirming guilt, that’s one hundred percent, unanimous guilt. And I thought finally it is over, finally he will own up to what he did, truly apologize, we will both move on and get better. ​Then I read your statement.

If you are hoping that one of my organs will implode from anger and I will die, I’m almost there. You are very close. This is not a story of another drunk college hook­up with poor decision making. Assault is not an accident. Somehow, you still don’t get it. Somehow, you still sound confused. I will now read portions of the defendant’s statement and respond to them.

You said, Being drunk I just couldn’t make the best decisions and neither could she.

Alcohol is not an excuse. Is it a factor? Yes. But alcohol was not the one who stripped me, fingered me, had my head dragging against the ground, with me almost fully naked. Having too much to drink was an amateur mistake that I admit to, but it is not criminal. Everyone in this room has had a night where they have regretted drinking too much, or knows someone close to them who has had a night where they have regretted drinking too much. Regretting drinking is not the same as regretting sexual assault. We were both drunk, the difference is I did not take off your pants and underwear, touch you inappropriately, and run away. That’s the difference.

You said, If I wanted to get to know her, I should have asked for her number, rather than asking her to go back to my room.

I’m not mad because you didn’t ask for my number. Even if you did know me, I would not want to be in this situation. My own boyfriend knows me, but if he asked to finger me behind a dumpster, I would slap him. No girl wants to be in this situation. Nobody. I don’t care if you know their phone number or not.

You said, I stupidly thought it was okay for me to do what everyone around me was doing, which was drinking. I was wrong.

Again, you were not wrong for drinking. Everyone around you was not sexually assaulting me. You were wrong for doing what nobody else was doing, which was pushing your erect dick in your pants against my naked, defenseless body concealed in a dark area, where partygoers could no longer see or protect me, and my own sister could not find me. Sipping fireball is not your crime. Peeling off and discarding my underwear like a candy wrapper to insert your finger into my body, is where you went wrong. Why am I still explaining this.

You said, During the trial I didn’t want to victimize her at all. That was just my attorney and his way of approaching the case.

Your attorney is not your scapegoat, he represents you. Did your attorney say some incredulously infuriating, degrading things? Absolutely. He said you had an erection, because it was cold.

You said, you are in the process of establishing a program for high school and college students in which you speak about your experience to “speak out against the college campus drinking culture and the sexual promiscuity that goes along with that.”

Campus drinking culture. That’s what we’re speaking out against? You think that’s what I’ve spent the past year fighting for? Not awareness about campus sexual assault, or rape, or learning to recognize consent. Campus drinking culture. Down with Jack Daniels. Down with Skyy Vodka. If you want talk to people about drinking go to an AA meeting. You realize, having a drinking problem is different than drinking and then forcefully trying to have sex with someone? Show men how to respect women, not how to drink less.

Drinking culture and the sexual promiscuity that goes along with that. Goes along with that, like a side effect, like fries on the side of your order. Where does promiscuity even come into play? I don’t see headlines that read, Brock Turner, Guilty of drinking too much and the sexual promiscuity that goes along with that. Campus Sexual Assault. There’s your first powerpoint slide. Rest assured, if you fail to fix the topic of your talk, I will follow you to every school you go to and give a follow up presentation.

Lastly you said, I want to show people that one night of drinking can ruin a life.

A life, one life, yours, you forgot about mine. Let me rephrase for you, I want to show people that one night of drinking can ruin two lives. You and me. You are the cause, I am the effect. You have dragged me through this hell with you, dipped me back into that night again and again. You knocked down both our towers, I collapsed at the same time you did. If you think I was spared, came out unscathed, that today I ride off into sunset, while you suffer the greatest blow, you are mistaken. Nobody wins. We have all been devastated, we have all been trying to find some meaning in all of this suffering. Your damage was concrete; stripped of titles, degrees, enrollment. My damage was internal, unseen, I carry it with me. You took away my worth, my privacy, my energy, my time, my safety, my intimacy, my confidence, my own voice, until today.

See one thing we have in common is that we were both unable to get up in the morning. I am no stranger to suffering. You made me a victim. In newspapers my name was “unconscious intoxicated woman”, ten syllables, and nothing more than that. For a while, I believed that that was all I was. I had to force myself to relearn my real name, my identity. To relearn that this is not all that I am. That I am not just a drunk victim at a frat party found behind a dumpster, while you are the All­ American swimmer at a top university, innocent until proven guilty, with so much at stake. I am a human being who has been irreversibly hurt, my life was put on hold for over a year, waiting to figure out if I was worth something.

My independence, natural joy, gentleness, and steady lifestyle I had been enjoying became distorted beyond recognition. I became closed off, angry, self deprecating, tired, irritable, empty. The isolation at times was unbearable. You cannot give me back the life I had before that night either. While you worry about your shattered reputation, I refrigerated spoons every night so when I woke up, and my eyes were puffy from crying, I would hold the spoons to my eyes to lessen the swelling so that I could see. I showed up an hour late to work every morning, excused myself to cry in the stairwells, I can tell you all the best places in that building to cry where no one can hear you. The pain became so bad that I had to explain the private details to my boss to let her know why I was leaving. I needed time because continuing day to day was not possible. I used my savings to go as far away as I could possibly be. I did not return to work full time as I knew I’d have to take weeks off in the future for the hearing and trial, that were constantly being rescheduled. My life was put on hold for over a year, my structure had collapsed.

I can’t sleep alone at night without having a light on, like a five year old, because I have nightmares of being touched where I cannot wake up, I did this thing where I waited until the sun came up and I felt safe enough to sleep. For three months, I went to bed at six o’clock in the morning.

I used to pride myself on my independence, now I am afraid to go on walks in the evening, to attend social events with drinking among friends where I should be comfortable being. I have become a little barnacle always needing to be at someone’s side, to have my boyfriend standing next to me, sleeping beside me, protecting me. It is embarrassing how feeble I feel, how timidly I move through life, always guarded, ready to defend myself, ready to be angry.

You have no idea how hard I have worked to rebuild parts of me that are still weak. It took me eight months to even talk about what happened. I could no longer connect with friends, with everyone around me. I would scream at my boyfriend, my own family whenever they brought this up. You never let me forget what happened to me. At the of end of the hearing, the trial, I was too tired to speak. I would leave drained, silent. I would go home turn off my phone and for days I would not speak. You bought me a ticket to a planet where I lived by myself. Every time a new article come out, I lived with the paranoia that my entire hometown would find out and know me as the girl who got assaulted. I didn’t want anyone’s pity and am still learning to accept victim as part of my identity. You made my own hometown an uncomfortable place to be.

You cannot give me back my sleepless nights. The way I have broken down sobbing uncontrollably if I’m watching a movie and a woman is harmed, to say it lightly, this experience has expanded my empathy for other victims. I have lost weight from stress, when people would comment I told them I’ve been running a lot lately. There are times I did not want to be touched. I have to relearn that I am not fragile, I am capable, I am wholesome, not just livid and weak.

When I see my younger sister hurting, when she is unable to keep up in school, when she is deprived of joy, when she is not sleeping, when she is crying so hard on the phone she is barely breathing, telling me over and over again she is sorry for leaving me alone that night, sorry sorry sorry, when she feels more guilt than you, then I do not forgive you. That night I had called her to try and find her, but you found me first. Your attorney’s closing statement began, “[Her sister] said she was fine and who knows her better than her sister.” You tried to use my own sister against me? Your points of attack were so weak, so low, it was almost embarrassing. You do not touch her.

You should have never done this to me. Secondly, you should have never made me fight so long to tell you, you should have never done this to me. But here we are. The damage is done, no one can undo it. And now we both have a choice. We can let this destroy us, I can remain angry and hurt and you can be in denial, or we can face it head on, I accept the pain, you accept the punishment, and we move on.

Your life is not over, you have decades of years ahead to rewrite your story. The world is huge, it is so much bigger than Palo Alto and Stanford, and you will make a space for yourself in it where you can be useful and happy. But right now, you do not get to shrug your shoulders and be confused anymore. You do not get to pretend that there were no red flags. You have been convicted of violating me, intentionally, forcibly, sexually, with malicious intent, and all you can admit to is consuming alcohol. Do not talk about the sad way your life was upturned because alcohol made you do bad things. Figure out how to take responsibility for your own conduct.

Now to address the sentencing. When I read the probation officer’s report, I was in disbelief, consumed by anger which eventually quieted down to profound sadness. My statements have been slimmed down to distortion and taken out of context. I fought hard during this trial and will not have the outcome minimized by a probation officer who attempted to evaluate my current state and my wishes in a fifteen minute conversation, the majority of which was spent answering questions I had about the legal system. The context is also important. Brock had yet to issue a statement, and I had not read his remarks.

My life has been on hold for over a year, a year of anger, anguish and uncertainty, until a jury of my peers rendered a judgment that validated the injustices I had endured. Had Brock admitted guilt and remorse and offered to settle early on, I would have considered a lighter sentence, respecting his honesty, grateful to be able to move our lives forward. Instead he took the risk of going to trial, added insult to injury and forced me to relive the hurt as details about my personal life and sexual assault were brutally dissected before the public. He pushed me and my family through a year of inexplicable, unnecessary suffering, and should face the consequences of challenging his crime, of putting my pain into question, of making us wait so long for justice.

I told the probation officer I do not want Brock to rot away in prison. I did not say he does not deserve to be behind bars. The probation officer’s recommendation of a year or less in county jail is a soft time­out, a mockery of the seriousness of his assaults, an insult to me and all women. It gives the message that a stranger can be inside you without proper consent and he will receive less than what has been defined as the minimum sentence. Probation should be denied. I also told the probation officer that what I truly wanted was for Brock to get it, to understand and admit to his wrongdoing.

Unfortunately, after reading the defendant’s report, I am severely disappointed and feel that he has failed to exhibit sincere remorse or responsibility for his conduct. I fully respected his right to a trial, but even after twelve jurors unanimously convicted him guilty of three felonies, all he has admitted to doing is ingesting alcohol. Someone who cannot take full accountability for his actions does not deserve a mitigating sentence. It is deeply offensive that he would try and dilute rape with a suggestion of “promiscuity”. By definition rape is not the absence of promiscuity, rape is the absence of consent, and it perturbs me deeply that he can’t even see that distinction.

The probation officer factored in that the defendant is youthful and has no prior convictions. In my opinion, he is old enough to know what he did was wrong. When you are eighteen in this country you can go to war. When you are nineteen, you are old enough to pay the consequences for attempting to rape someone. He is young, but he is old enough to know better.

As this is a first offence I can see where leniency would beckon. On the other hand, as a society, we cannot forgive everyone’s first sexual assault or digital rape. It doesn’t make sense. The seriousness of rape has to be communicated clearly, we should not create a culture that suggests we learn that rape is wrong through trial and error. The consequences of sexual assault needs to be severe enough that people feel enough fear to exercise good judgment even if they are drunk, severe enough to be preventative.

The probation officer weighed the fact that he has surrendered a hard earned swimming scholarship. How fast Brock swims does not lessen the severity of what happened to me, and should not lessen the severity of his punishment. If a first time offender from an underprivileged background was accused of three felonies and displayed no accountability for his actions other than drinking, what would his sentence be? The fact that Brock was an athlete at a private university should not be seen as an entitlement to leniency, but as an opportunity to send a message that sexual assault is against the law regardless of social class.

The Probation Officer has stated that this case, when compared to other crimes of similar nature, may be considered less serious due to the defendant’s level of intoxication. It felt serious. That’s all I’m going to say.

What has he done to demonstrate that he deserves a break? He has only apologized for drinking and has yet to define what he did to me as sexual assault, he has revictimized me continually, relentlessly. He has been found guilty of three serious felonies and it is time for him to accept the consequences of his actions. He will not be quietly excused.

He is a lifetime sex registrant. That doesn’t expire. Just like what he did to me doesn’t expire, doesn’t just go away after a set number of years. It stays with me, it’s part of my identity, it has forever changed the way I carry myself, the way I live the rest of my life.

To conclude, I want to say thank you. To everyone from the intern who made me oatmeal when I woke up at the hospital that morning, to the deputy who waited beside me, to the nurses who calmed me, to the detective who listened to me and never judged me, to my advocates who stood unwaveringly beside me, to my therapist who taught me to find courage in vulnerability, to my boss for being kind and understanding, to my incredible parents who teach me how to turn pain into strength, to my grandma who snuck chocolate into the courtroom throughout this to give to me, my friends who remind me how to be happy, to my boyfriend who is patient and loving, to my unconquerable sister who is the other half of my heart, to Alaleh, my idol, who fought tirelessly and never doubted me. Thank you to everyone involved in the trial for their time and attention. Thank you to girls across the nation that wrote cards to my DA to give to me, so many strangers who cared for me.

Most importantly, thank you to the two men who saved me, who I have yet to meet. I sleep with two bicycles that I drew taped above my bed to remind myself there are heroes in this story. That we are looking out for one another. To have known all of these people, to have felt their protection and love, is something I will never forget.

And finally, to girls everywhere, I am with you. On nights when you feel alone, I am with you. When people doubt you or dismiss you, I am with you. I fought everyday for you. So never stop fighting, I believe you. As the author Anne Lamott once wrote, “Lighthouses don’t go running all over an island looking for boats to save; they just stand there shining.” Although I can’t save every boat, I hope that by speaking today, you absorbed a small amount of light, a small knowing that you can’t be silenced, a small satisfaction that justice was served, a small assurance that we are getting somewhere, and a big, big knowing that you are important, unquestionably, you are untouchable, you are beautiful, you are to be valued, respected, undeniably, every minute of every day, you are powerful and nobody can take that away from you. To girls everywhere, I am with you. Thank you.

After the victim’s statement went viral, Turner’s dad, Dan Turner, issued a statement defending his son, arguing his life will be “deeply altered” by the court’s verdict. I know this man is speaking out as a father but really, the callousness with which he disregards the consequences his son’s actions have had on his victim sickens me. He pretends that his son has done nothing wrong worth jail time and has no regard whatsoever for how his child has ruined this woman’s life.

“He will never be his happy go lucky self with that easy going personality and welcoming smile,” he wrote.

“His every waking minute is consumed with worry, anxiety, fear and depression. Now he barely consumes any food and eats only to exist. These verdicts have broken and shattered him and our family in so many ways. His life will never be the one that he dreamt about and worked so hard to achieve. That is a steep price to pay for 20 minutes of action out of his 20 plus years of life.”

Mr. Turner says his son, Brock Turner, should not be sent to jail.

“The fact that he now has to register as a sex offender for the rest of his life forever alters where he can live, visit, work, and how he will be able to interact people and organizations,” he wrote.

“What I know as his father is that incarceration is not the appropriate punishment for Brock. He has no prior criminal history and has never been violence to anyone, including his actions on the night of January 17, 2015.”

Mr. Turner then suggested his son could become a role model for young people. I get that he is the kid’s dad but there comes a time when you need to support your child by loving them while at the same time making them understand that there are consequences to bad behavior and raping a woman is bad behavior. It is unforgivable behavior.

“Brock can do so many positive things as a contributor to society and is totally committed to educating other college age students about the dangers of alcohol consumption and sexual promiscuity.”

“By having people like Brock educate others on college campuses is how society can begin to break the cycle of binge drinking and its unfortunate results. Probation is the best answer for Brock in this situation and allows him to give back to society in a net positive way.”

It’s like this man doesn’t think his son has done anything really wrong. I know he’s a father who loves his son and love is blind, especially where our children are concerned but this man is in absolute denial.

What do you think is a fitting punishment for Brock Turner’s choice to rape a woman?

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first grade

This morning my oldest daughter started First Grade.*Swoon* & *Sigh* My stomach was nervous all last night for her. I’m no stranger to this phenomenon.It’s been happening to me since MY own first day of kindergarten. I didn’t think I’d be this nervous before my babies started school. I guess it’s better me than them. Ella woke up this morning excited and ready to hit the ground running. I’m so proud of her. This is her third school in three years.

First grade

The First Day Of First Grade

This morning was slightly reminiscent of last year’s first day. But this year my little girl was more excited and less nervous. I watched her jump out of bed and her eyes were smiling. She woke up her sister and headed to the kitchen for the annual first day of school breakfast; this years was pancakes, bacon, fruit and milk. Gotta feed that little brain. I watched her flit around like a little caterpillar turning into a butterfly before my very eyes. It really is quite hard to actually see the letting go happen.

She was dressed and ready to hit the road in record time this morning. I was glad. I was afraid she was going to be overcome with trepidation being in a new school, in a new city with new kids and no one she knows. But we were sure to take her to the school a couple times over the summer and she met her teacher last week. She knew where her desk, hook and mailbox would be before she ever got to school this morning. I explained the lunch line and pick up. She knew she was going to be the first Star of the Week VIP, we spent the weekend working on her VIP poster board for class. She seemed fine. I was the nervous one.


first grade

The First Cut is the Deepest

Then we drove to school, after taking my usual 100 photos or so of her getting ready for her first day of school. I reminded her that I put lunch money in her pocket, in case there was a mix up with her lunch account. I reminded her that she was having grapes in her lunch today and that she needed to take little bites and not talk while eating ( *Laugh if you will at my helicoptering but this is the same child who I was almost robbed of by a raisin). I reminded her to raise her hand when they took a head count for lunch (this is her first year of all day school). Then we rode in silence.

As we walked into the school, I had to pass the Kindergarten Mom’s. They were all melting into their pools of snot and tears in the hallway. Oh how I remember that moment, it was just last year. It will be me again next year. It hurt my heart a bit. I knew in moments, my own hurt was coming down like a hammer. We walked her into her classroom. As I handed her the backpack and pointed her in the direction of her hook, I could see the trepidation rearing its head again. I know that look. It’s a mix of glazed over and about to cry. But she never does. My girl is a suck it up kind of girl. She is the bravest kid I know (until it comes to shots but that’s an entirely different post). She asked me to walk her to her desk, of course, I obliged. The Big Guy was already busy setting all of her supply list items on her desk and unveiling that Star of the Week poster that tells her story. Abbi was running amuck checking out all the other kids to make sure it was safe to leave her big sister. She doesn’t leave her sister with just anyone.

first grade

I was in my head. She was in hers. Her eyes were glassy. My eyes were glassy. She knew I would ONLY leave her in capable hands. She sucked it up and gave me her nervous smile. I gave her a thousand and one kisses and told her to have a great day. I told her that I was so excited for her and proud of her. The Big Guy gave her a goodbye kiss and exited left. Her little sister hugged her like she was going off to war and kissed her cheek harder than I thought possible. I watched before giving her one last kiss and hug and fleeing before I could begin to cry.I told her I loved her. She told me that she did too.The commotion was growing. I swallowed the lump in my throat and told her goodbye.She smiled her nervous, toothless smile. It took all my will, I walked away. As I exited the room, I looked back and saw that same first day familiar nervous look. It broke my heart. It always breaks my heart. Leaving her, has always and will probably always break my heart into a million tiny pieces. The letting go is the hardest part of growing up.

First Grade

It’s time to focus on the fact that my  youngest starts preschool in 3 weeks. Oh what a blubbering mess I will be on that day. For now, I will fixate on those damn grapes and count the minutes til pick up time. Once she tells me that she had a wonderful day and I know that she survived the grapes at lunch. I will be exponentially happier. But right now, this very moment, my heart still hurts from….

Leaving my First Born in First Grade

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Best Walt Disney World Resorts for Families to stay on your next family vacation., walt disney world, disney world vacation, 10 tips for maximizing yoru walt disney vacation for free, magic kingdom, happily ever after, mickey mouse, pandora, #disneySMMC, Toy story land, epcot, astro orbitor, rose gold ears, disneyfamilia, familia first, disney family, family travel

Going to Walt Disney World on vacation is one of a kind experience. There is nothing else like it in the world. However, staying in Walt Disney World Resorts takes that vacation to an entirely new level. Aside from being fully immersed in the Disney experience, there are lots of perks and extra magic involved in staying on property. Can you say Free Disney Dining Plan? Yes, some magical promotions include free food. If you are wondering which are the best Walt Disney World Resorts for Families to stay at, I’ve got you covered.

We’ve vacationed to Walt Disney World several times and no trip has been the same. That is part of the magic of a Disney vacation. You can have a different adventure every single time. We’ve gone as newlyweds, as a couple and with our daughters. We’ve stayed in several of the Disney Resorts and we’ve stayed off grounds and, for us, staying on property is our favorite way to vacation at Disney World.

READ ALSO: Secrets To Use Disney Tickets to Experience Magic Kingdom like an Insider

I imagine for first-timers, you may ask yourself, “Why stay on property when there are so many affordable resort options so close?” You make a valid point, on paper but once you’ve spent a Disney vacation staying in Walt Disney World Resorts with your family, you will know why you’ll never want to stay off grounds ever again.

Aside from convenience, early Magic hours, early access to fast pass and dining reservation plans, free transportation to and from parks and full immersion into the Walt Disney World experience for your family, there is the incomparable Walt Disney World resorts customer service. It is unbelievable and it doesn’t matter if you’re staying in the Grand Floridian or Pop Century; the warmth, helpfulness and general disposition of the characters are always the same…top notch. The best thing about Walt Disney resorts is that they have something for every budget.

READ ALSO: Tips to Beat the Heat at Disney

Here are my recommendations for the Best Walt Disney World Resorts for Families to stay at

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Yacht Club

The Yacht Club where we stayed on our first trip to Disney World on our honeymoon. I was dazzled by the grand, turn-of-the-century Martha’s Vineyard summer home vibes that Disney’s Yacht Club Resort was giving off. It’s a deluxe-category hotel at Walt Disney World Resort and it felt romantic and whimsical for these honeymooners.

It’s conveniently located and guests can easily walk or travel by water taxi from the resorts to Epcot and Disney’s Hollywood Studios (Star Wars Land is coming sooner than you think). Convenient bus service transports guests throughout Walt Disney World Resort.

The luxury club hotel is on the shores of a 25-acre Crescent Lake. The resort’s décor will transport you back to the 1890s.

That east coast beach vibe continues throughout in Stormalong Bay, a 2 ½-acre water recreation area reminiscent of a Nantucket beach. It has a life-size shipwreck with water slides, snorkeling in a sandy lagoon and a lazy river swimming area that feels like it flows into the lake. The kids will love it and so will you. There is something about a sand-bottomed pool that induces relaxation. Also bonus, a standard room can fit up to 5 people with 2 queen beds and a twin daybed.

We love it so much; we will be staying there this fall for our anniversary trip.

Disney Beach Club Resort

Disney’s Beach Club resort is right next to Disney’s Yacht Club and they are both awesome in our book. Start your morning at Cape May Cafe for a delicious southern-style breakfast complete with Mickey. Then make your way over to Stormalong Bay. I told you it was awesome.

Tired of swimming? Take a break and grab a snack at the cabana or Beaches & Cream Soda Shop. Feel like hitting the parks? Epcot is a mere 5-minute walk away or jump on a water taxi and hit Hollywood Studios.

At night, you can watch a movie under the stars with your kids at the pool or you can take advantage of the onsite childcare and enjoy a romantic meal with your spouse at one of the resort’s 6 dining locations.

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Disney’s Beach Club Villas

Guests at Disney’s Beach Club Villas receive exclusive access to Stormalong Bay at Disney’s Yacht Club Resort. Disney’s Beach Club Villas also provides the Sandcastle Club, a supervised activity center for kids. Villas are equipped with kitchens and, in some cases, room for up to eight people. There are also nightly clambakes, volleyball and campfires at the Beach Club villas for added family fun.

Disney’s the Animal Kingdom

Want some adventure on your Disney World vacation? The Animal Kingdom Lodge is home to 4 wildlife savannas which you can watch from the lobby, visit with animal specialists, or tour as part of the Wanyama Safari and Dinner.

The Animal Kingdom Lodge also has the option to stay in a villa, which can sleep up to 9 guests, if you’re traveling with the whole family. No need for separate hotel rooms.

While you’re in this beautiful hotel, be sure to check out the 11,000-square-foot Uzimi pool with waterslides and whirlpool spas. Or get your fitness on at the onsite fitness and massage center. Did someone say massage center? Yes, please. This mom desperately needs a massage.

Disney World’s Polynesian

Aside from being beautiful and having Moana, you can get a Dole Whip on site.  The lush Polynesian Village Resort has both traditional rooms and villas to choose from. The villas have kitchenettes, private back decks with barbecues, a plunge pool and room for up to 8 people.

This is perfect for big families or splitting costs with friends. If you’re like this mom, you heard the word kitchen and thought “Dishes. No thank you,” But if you stay at the villa, Mousekeeping takes care of washing the dishes. No dishes for you! I told you the customer service was amazing.

The resort has 9 restaurants, a nightly luau, and a character breakfast where kids can meet Lilo & Stitch. Lilo’s Clubhouse offers on-site childcare so you can enjoy a peaceful meal, visit to the spa, or a day at the pool while the kids are safely taken care of.

Bonus, the Polynesian Resort is on the monorail, making it super easy to access all of the parks, especially Epcot and the Magic Kingdom.

Bay Lake Tower at Disney’s Contemporary

Bay Lake Tower has rooms with views of the fireworks, so in case you have little kiddies, you won’t miss the magic. And believe me, it is magic. It is within walking distance of the Magic Kingdom and easily accessible via monorail. Bay Lake Tower at Disney’s Contemporary Resort features an unparalleled backdrop that includes Cinderella’s Castle and Space Mountain.

Bay Lake is a Disney Vacation Club Property. The resort offers up to three-bedroom villas with kitchenettes that accommodate up to nine people. It also has a restaurant and pool with a waterslide, so you and your family can relax when not at the parks.

Disney’s Boardwalk Inn

This is my husband’s favorite resort on property. Our favorite feature of staying at the Boardwalk Inn is the actual boardwalk. Situated along Crescent Lake, the boardwalk features carnival games, restaurants, shops and surrey bike rentals. The Boardwalk also has a really fun pool with a waterslide and standard guestrooms that sleep up to five or six guests.

Disney’s Boardwalk Villas

At Disney’s Boardwalk Villas, families staying there share amenities with guests at Disney’s Boardwalk Inn. However, Disney’s Boardwalk Villas provide more amenities like full kitchens and balconies.  Villas are larger and sleep up to four or eight guests.

Disney’s Port Orleans French Quarter

Port Orleans properties are divided into two resorts, the French Quarter and Riverside. Disney’s Port Orleans is a PG13 way to experience Mardi Gras all year round. Our favorite is the French Quarter because it feels just like being in New Orleans. Disney’s Port Orleans Resort French Quarter has 1,008 accommodations, most sleep up to four or five guests.

Guests have access to bikes, boats, horse-drawn carriage rides, cane pole fishing and a pool, live jazz and beautiful architecture all make this resort located on 325 acres that feel worlds away from the theme parks. Don’t forget about the amazing Louisiana-style cuisine and beignets.

Port Orleans, Wilderness Lodge, Best Walt Disney World Resorts for Families to stay, best disney world resorts, disney word resort, yacht club, beach club, animal kingdom, DIsney's Polynesian, Disney's wilderness lodge, the Boardwalk inn, Walt Disney World, Magic Kingdom, #nowMoreThanEver

Disney’s Wilderness Lodge

Staying at Disney’s Wilderness Lodge is like being in a beautiful, pristine national park cabin. While you might feel like you are off the grid in the serenity of your lodge, the Wilderness Lodge resort features added perks such as a beautiful pool and children’s activity center. Enjoy relaxing with your family at this rustic, luxurious rooms that sleep up to four guests, some even include bunk beds.

READ ALSO: Breaking News Star Wars Galaxy’s Edge Opening Date Revealed

Just announced Free Disney Dining Plan Day this Summer!

This summer, enjoy a little extra flavor during a fun-filled stay that’s sure to delight little ones and grown-ups alike. Receive a FREE meal per person (ages 3 and up), per night at a select Walt Disney World Resort quick-service dining location when you purchase a non-discounted, Walt Disney World Travel Co. Package that includes a room for 4-nights at a select Disney Moderate or Value Resort Hotel and a 5-day theme park ticket. Offer valid for arrivals most nights from May 28 through August 21, 2019.
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The number of rooms allocated for this offer is limited. Everyone in the same room must be on the same package. Advance reservations are required. Theme park tickets valid for admission beginning on the date of check-in and must be used within a limited number of days, depending on the length of stay and ticket. Visit disneyworld.com/usage for more details. Each quick-service meal includes one entrée and one non-alcoholic beverage (or if age 21 or over, one beer, wine or cocktail). 

These are just a few of my favorite Walt Disney Resorts for families. What is your favorite place to stay in Walt Disney World? And where is your favorite place and thing to eat on the Disney Dining Plan?

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New KIA Eco-Dynamic Vehicles, Kia, Eco-Dynamic, Niro, Hybrid, #theNewKia, San Diego, Coronado, HardRockHotelSD

A few weeks ago, I found myself on a discover San Diego road trip mission. I’ve only been to San Diego, California once before but I fell deep and hard in love and I couldn’t wait to go back. Travel is my love language.

This city by the sea is the closest thing to heaven that I can imagine. If you’ve never been, you need to put it on your travel bucket list. What’s not to love about playing in the surf, the smell of the ocean, the best fish tacos on earth and the perfect weather.all.year.long?

When KIA invited me to a ride and drive event to experience the new KIA eco-dynamic line of vehicles, it was a no brainer. Driving an award-winning good for the planet vehicle, discovering one of my favorite cities in the United States, yes, please!

Ladies, start your engines. It gave me the chance to do 2 things I love, explore and drive. There is just something about discovering a city with the windows down, wind in your hair and the music blaring while you find all those hidden gems a place has to offer. It was amazing.

If you’ve never been, I’ve curated a must see list of some iconic places you should explore on your San Diego road trip.

New KIA Eco-Dynamic Vehicles, Kia, Eco-Dynamic, Niro, Hybrid, #theNewKia, San Diego, Coronado

Hotel del Coronado on Coronado Island

Built in 1888 and designated a National Historic Landmark in 1977, the Hotel Coronado is an American treasure with more than 125 years of stories to tell. Built as a seaside resort that would be “the talk of the Western World’, it does not disappoint. It’s a gorgeous resort and don’t take my word for it, it’s regularly visited by celebrities, dignitaries and U.S. presidents.

New KIA Eco-Dynamic Vehicles, Kia, Eco-Dynamic, Niro, Hybrid, #theNewKia, San Diego, Coronado

Balboa Park

Named for the Spanish maritime explorer Vasco Nunez de Balboa, Balboa Park is a 1200-acre urban cultural park that contains more than 17 museums, gardens, trails and attractions including the San Diego Zoo. I love it for the old Spanish feel of the buildings. There was something for everyone.

New KIA Eco-Dynamic Vehicles, Kia, Eco-Dynamic, Niro, Hybrid, #theNewKia, San Diego, Coronado

Chicano Park

I stumbled upon this jewel. It’s a small park located between Coronado and the Gas Lamp Quarter that has underpasses painted with beautiful urban murals. It really is something to see in person.

USS Midway Museum

The Midway is one of the longest-serving aircraft carriers in the United States Navy, operating from September 1945 until 1992 when she was decommissioned. During her commission, she sailed every ocean in the world and fought in the Vietnam War and in the First Persian Gulf War. Now a museum, it features more than 60 exhibits and nearly 30 restored aircraft.

New KIA Eco-Dynamic Vehicles, Kia, Eco-Dynamic, Niro, Hybrid, #theNewKia, San Diego, Coronado

The Unconditional Surrender Statue (AKA the Kissing Statue)

Right outside the USS Midway stands the infamous “Kissing Statue”. True story, the “lovebirds” that inspired the statue were strangers. He was in the service on furlough, she was a dental hygienist. The war was officially over and everyone in Times Square was celebrating. He mistook her for a nurse. Euphoric at the thought of not having to return to battle and associating her with the nurses that had saved so many of his wounded friends, he grabbed her and kissed her. She was in shock. But the statue stands tall as a reminder to all of us that the war ended and so many loved ones were reunited.

Old Point Loma Lighthouse

In 1851, a year after California entered the Union, the U.S. Coastal Survey selected the heights of Point Loma for the location of a navigational aid. What seemed to be a good location, however, had a serious flaw: Fog and low clouds often obscured the light. That could be a problem but there is just something magical about Lighthouses. Definitely worth the visit if you are in the area.

New KIA Eco-Dynamic Vehicles, Kia, Eco-Dynamic, Niro, Hybrid, #theNewKia, San Diego, Coronado

Mission Basilica de Alcala

San Diego de Alcala is the first of the 21 historic California Missions. It marks the birthplace of Christianity on the west coast of the United States. Today, the Mission, founded in 1979, serves as an active parish church and cultural center for people of all faiths! It’s beautiful and photographs wonderfully.

The Gaslamp Quarter

I stayed in a suite at the iconic Hard Rock Hotel in the historic heart of San Diego, the Gaslamp Quarter, which was basically the center of everything tucked tightly into 16 ½ square blocks. It is the ultimate walkable urban playground.

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While there, I suggest dinner at Rustic Root a restaurant that specializes in American Cuisine made with farm fresh local ingredients thoughtfully paired with timeless dishes to bring out their intended charm and simplicity. And if you really want to take in the Gaslamp Quarter sights at night, I would recommend taking a pedicab. So much fun!

New KIA Eco-Dynamic Vehicles, Kia, Eco-Dynamic, Niro, Hybrid, #theNewKia, San Diego, Coronado

Coronado Central Beach

When in Sand Diego, you must visit the Coronado Central Beach voted #1 beach in America. It’s a 1.5 mile long, wide sandy beach set against the backdrop of the iconic Hotel del Coronado. The beach is popular for swimmers, surfers, sunbathers and beachcombers and the beach is very flat, making it great for skim boarding and walking. Plus, salt water, sunshine and serenity, what’s not to love?

New KIA Eco-Dynamic Vehicles, Kia, Eco-Dynamic, Niro, Hybrid, #theNewKia, San Diego, Coronado_RockOutKaraoke

There are tons more places to visit and things to see and do but this is a good starter list for the first time San Diego visitor.I highly recommend road tripping with your favorite people because it makes everything so much more fun. And if you ever get the chance to do Karaoke with a live band like Rock Out Karaoke, do it! Where’s your favorite place to road trip?

New KIA Eco-Dynamic Vehicles, Kia, Eco-Dynamic, Niro, Hybrid, #theNewKia, San Diego, Coronado_RockOutKaraoke

If you’ve been to San Diego, what’s your favorite place to visit on a San Diego Road Trip?

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jane roe, abortion

Jane Roe

Jane Roe then

Jane Roe, of  Roe vs. Wade, whose real name is Norma McCorvey  has made an anti-Obama ad. Jane Roe, the very same woman who is responsible for our current abortion laws. The same Jane Roe who fought tooth and nail to get abortion legalized when she needed it has now had a change of heart.

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Why Every Family should Go RVing before your Kids Grow Up, Go RVing, family travel, Cape Hatteras, Camp Hatteras, Rodanthe, North Carolina, Outer Banks, Winnebago, WinnebagoLife

I think every family should go RVing before their kids grow up, at least once, if not do like some of my friends and take an entire year to explore. If you want to really connect as a family, for us, there need to be minimal distractions, intimate proximity and the freedom to unplug from the rest of the world. Your priority and attention need to be present with the people who are traveling with you. If there is a beautiful destination involved, a place where you can sit in wonder and awe, even better. This year, we discovered that for us, RVing is the only way to ensure that result.

As many of you know, my family and I are nomads. I could roam the world homeless forever. I was raised that home is where the people you love are and so home for me is wherever the Big Guy and my girls are at. That’s all I need; my health, them and the wide open road. Road trips are my jam; while I love traveling by any means possible, especially to a tropical destination, road trips allow for unexpected adventures that you just can’t plan. Detours and roadside stops or choosing a different path feels a lot like living in your own private choose your adventure game.

Why Every Family should Go RVing before your Kids Grow Up, Go RVing, family travel, Cape Hatteras, Camp Hatteras, Rodanthe, North Carolina, Outer Banks, Winnebago, WinnebagoLife

Last month, we had one of the best family vacations of our lives and that is saying a lot. I knew traveling by RV would be fun but I had no idea how much we would all connect. I had no idea how many beautiful memories we would make on this one trip. It was as simple as unplugging, being present and actually seeing the people and places in front of us.

Why Every Family should Go RVing before your Kids Grow Up, Go RVing, family travel, Cape Hatteras, Camp Hatteras, Rodanthe, North Carolina, Outer Banks, Winnebago, WinnebagoLifeDisclosure: We were provided an RV and a campsite at a destination of our choice by Go RVing but all opinions and memories are our own.

Why Every Family should Go RVing before your Kids Grow Up, Go RVing, family travel, Cape Hatteras, Camp Hatteras, Rodanthe, North Carolina, Outer Banks, Winnebago, WinnebagoLife

A screen is a beautiful thing but it pales in comparison to looking up and seeing the ocean. It is garbage compared to human contact and interaction around a campfire at night on a beach beneath the stars. It’s a poor substitute for real life. Virtual has nothing on human interaction.

Why Every Family should Go RVing before your Kids Grow Up, Go RVing, family travel, Cape Hatteras, Camp Hatteras, Rodanthe, North Carolina, Outer Banks, Winnebago, WinnebagoLife

The weekend before school started back, we went on a magical end of the summer trip in an RV. I like to sneak in that one last relaxing getaway with my people before schedules get hectic and we’re all neck deep in the minutia of our day to day schedules. Last year, we stayed in a parked RV model in Traverse City, Michigan and we thought that was amazing and it was but it wasn’t the same experience as driving with your family in an RV. Definitely not the same as a road trip in an SUV or car, though, I do love those too.

Why Every Family should Go RVing before your Kids Grow Up, Go RVing, family travel, Cape Hatteras, Camp Hatteras, Rodanthe, North Carolina, Outer Banks, Winnebago, WinnebagoLife

READ ALSO: Why RVing is the best family trip

Why Every Family should Go RVing before your Kids Grow Up, Go RVing, family travel, Cape Hatteras, Camp Hatteras, Rodanthe, North Carolina, Outer Banks, Winnebago, WinnebagoLife

We drove 9 hours to the D.C. area to pick up our Winnebago Intent Model 31P before driving another 7 hours to beautiful Camp Hatteras campground in Rodanthe, North Carolina. Talk about style. I’m not sure what I was expecting but this Winnebago exceeded anything I could have imagined. It was almost 32′ in length and could accommodate up to 7 people with bunk beds for the kids. There were only 4 of us, so we had plenty of space.

There was plenty of storage space, both inside the RV and in the under-storage areas for food, toys and games and whatever you want to bring along. There was a television in the sitting area, the back bedroom and even outside, along with a mini-fridge and sink; perfect when you’re grilling and don’t want to miss that special game. For us, the television was perfect for when it rained outside. We’d all snuggle up and watch a movie together before a midday nap. That’s what vacations are for, right? We were sucking every bit of relaxing we could get out of this trip.

Why Every Family should Go RVing before your Kids Grow Up, Go RVing, family travel, Cape Hatteras, Camp Hatteras, Rodanthe, North Carolina, Outer Banks, Winnebago, WinnebagoLife

The Outer Banks has always been on my travel bucket list and it was not a disappointment. We can’t wait to go back. There is just something about a vacation by water that is intuitively relaxing for me, especially the ocean.

Why Every Family should Go RVing before your Kids Grow Up, Go RVing, family travel, Cape Hatteras, Camp Hatteras, Rodanthe, North Carolina, Outer Banks, Winnebago, WinnebagoLife

There were a ton of things to do at Camp Hatteras from mini golfing, corn hole tournaments, live music, ice cream socials to crafts and karaoke but we were more interested in sunsets on the sound, long walks on the beach, playing in the surf, exploring under the pier and bonfires under the stars right on the beach. You choose your family adventure.

Why Every Family should Go RVing before your Kids Grow Up, Go RVing, family travel, Cape Hatteras, Camp Hatteras, Rodanthe, North Carolina, Outer Banks, Winnebago, WinnebagoLife

You could surf, kayak, take a boat out and fish or you could build sandcastles, bathe in the sun and talk to the people on the blanket next to you on Camp Hatteras’ private beach while your kids laughed and ran from the waves. Campgrounds have a whole culture that I never knew about before and the people are all so fun and friendly. The first night we arrived, our site neighbors came out and helped us novice campers hook everything up.

Why Every Family should Go RVing before your Kids Grow Up, Go RVing, family travel, Cape Hatteras, Camp Hatteras, Rodanthe, North Carolina, Outer Banks, Winnebago, WinnebagoLife

Cape Hatteras can be as exciting or laid back as you choose. We opted for relaxing togetherness. I took the girls’ phones away. I only used mine for pics. We stopped worrying about ticking boxes and having to be anywhere and we just played it all by ear and it was magical. I seriously can’t recommend it highly enough. If your end goal is to relax on vacation and spend quality time with your family, go RVing.

Why Every Family should Go RVing before your Kids Grow Up, Go RVing, family travel, Cape Hatteras, Camp Hatteras, Rodanthe, North Carolina, Outer Banks, Winnebago, WinnebagoLife

There was no running to see sights. It was just high grass, soft sand, blue water, crashing waves and star filled nights with the three people I love most on the planet. It couldn’t get any better than that and yet, it did. There were nights of delivered pizza while listening to the wave crash from our Oceanside site. There was coming in from a scorching beautiful day on the beach to an air-conditioned, all the amenities of home RV including a hot shower and a refrigerator full of ice cream.

Why Every Family should Go RVing before your Kids Grow Up, Go RVing, family travel, Cape Hatteras, Camp Hatteras, Rodanthe, North Carolina, Outer Banks, Winnebago, WinnebagoLifeREAD ALSO: Ogunquit Maine is the Perfect Place to Eat Cake by the Ocean

Why Every Family should Go RVing before your Kids Grow Up, Go RVing, family travel, Cape Hatteras, Camp Hatteras, Rodanthe, North Carolina, Outer Banks, Winnebago, WinnebagoLife

There were lots of laughs and lots of love. There were so many moments and memories made in the that RV and on that beach that I will never forget. If I close my eyes, I can smell the salt in the air, hear my girls giggling and feel the Big Guys hand in mine as we watched our girls run in and out of the surf, delighted by the different creatures in the sea from rogue crabs to spotting a pod of dolphins off in the distance. I can’t wait for next year’s end of the summer adventure.

Why Every Family should Go RVing before your Kids Grow Up, Go RVing, family travel, Cape Hatteras, Camp Hatteras, Rodanthe, North Carolina, Outer Banks, Winnebago, WinnebagoLife

Have you ever taken a family trip in an RV? If not, start planning next year’s trip now. We only get a handful of these precious years of togetherness like this before our kids grow up and the dynamics change. Sure, they will always be our babies but it won’t always just be us and them and they won’t always be as easily contented by spotting a pod of dolphins, splashing under the pier or sitting beneath the stars making s’mores on a starry night with nothing more than the surf and your doting heart.

Why Every Family should Go RVing before your Kids Grow Up, Go RVing, family travel, Cape Hatteras, Camp Hatteras, Rodanthe, North Carolina, Outer Banks, Winnebago, WinnebagoLife

Take advantage of every single moment you can. Go RVing!

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