It’s not domestic violence awareness month, intimate partner violence awareness month, or date rape awareness month, but it should be. Young teenage females heading off to the beach alone and unchaperoned are entering the perfect environment to become victims of one or all three of the above mentioned crimes.
When I was 18, I graduated from high school on a beautiful Friday night in late May. By the next Friday, I had been beaten, kicked, threatened, and verbally assaulted in Ocean City, Maryland. My abuser was not a stranger. He was a boy who I had been dating for approximately 5 months. He was a boy my mother trusted to treat me with respect and care. He was a boy who many people in the community loved and respected. He was a wolf in sheep’s clothing. He was a preditor 22 years ago and remains a predator today.
Why am I sharing this? Because anyone can be a predator and any young woman could be a victim. It does not matter if your daughter or niece or granddaughter is the valedictorian of her graduating class, homecoming queen, a scholarship recipient, or a basketball star, she could be a victim. And predators come in all shapes and sizes, too. He could be the MVP of the football team, the class president, or the boy who sits with you and your family at church every Sunday. As a parent or guardian, you can’t trust the facade of anyone when it comes to the safety and protection of your young daughter.
So what do you do as a parent or guardian? It’s simple: stay connected. Ask questions. Listen. Get to know the boy’s family. Demand your daughter adheres to her curfew. Use Skype or FaceTime every chance you can. Use GPS on her phone to track her every move. Ask the boy not to go to the beach the same week your daughter goes or go with them. Mom, Dad, Grandma, or Grandpa can be there without ever being seen or without causing too much embarrassment for their children. What’s worse? Temporary embarrassment or being assaulted, kicked and chased on a deserted beach late at night, being smothered in your pillow, and begging for your life?
Stay safe. Have fun during senior week. Protect yourself. Protect your children.