When it comes to rape and sexual assault, there are no neutral actions.

Each and every one of us plays a role in the way rape and sexual assault victims are treated whether we realize it or not. There are no neutral actions. From the moment our kids are born, regardless of gender, what we say and how we act will make a direct impact on how our kids view the world and treat others. Actually, it starts way before our kids are even a consideration. The manner in which you and your significant other talk to each other and treat each other before conceiving foreshadows the type of role model you will be.

How do you play a part in rape culture if you never plan to have kids or a significant other? It starts with what you allow by turning a blind eye on a daily basis. Allowing inappropriate words, jokes, and actions in the office, on the playground, from your parents who were raised in a much different time. It starts by allowing people that promote inequality, intolerance or violence in your life, on your social media feed or worse yet, as your presidential candidate.

Not speaking up is not a neutral action. Turning a blind eye to bad behavior because you like other parts of the person is the same as agreeing to the bad behavior. When I was growing up I was bullied a lot because we moved numerous times and I changed schools often. I was raised to be a fighter and if someone treated me or my friends wrong I would punch them. It wasn’t until I got older and went out into the world that I learned how to handle conflict. I learned this from people who I loved who called me out and said it was unacceptable behavior. Until they called me out I truly believed it was normal and the way to handle matters.

At my first job in the corporate world, sexual harassment was so rampant that a handful of women successfully sued the company. They asked me to be a part of the civil lawsuit because I too had been treated the same. However, I declined because I liked the owner of the company and I naively accepted the behavior as normal when working with men. My entire career I have worked in a male dominated industry and just accepted the fact that men were going to say and do things that were sexist. I would laugh and even play along because I wanted to be respected and seen as one of them. I wanted them to know I was tough and can take it. I was so naïve because the people I had surrounded myself with were not positive role models.

At my second corporate job, I traveled regularly and interacted with many people from diverse backgrounds. I was around people from all over the world. My eyes began to open wide. I realized I had so much to learn about the way to treat people and how to command they treat me.

Then I had my daughter and nothing will make you change your view on the world quite like having your mama bear instincts kick into full gear. I would never tolerate people treating my daughter the way I had allowed myself to be treated. I would never turn a blind eye or let any slight action or words go without immediate correction.

I started gravitating towards strong women who speak up against inequality and misogyny. I co-founded a group called Chicks in Charge that was for women in my industry to be mentored and mentor others. Eventually, I left my long standing career partly because I could no longer tolerate the good ole boys club that could make or break my sales no matter how good of a job I did. The other reason for leaving my job was to return to my fighting days. I am back to fighting bullies. I have made it my vocation to educate others to speak up and take action against those who treat us inappropriately. And by us, I mean all of us, all humans. I won’t throw any physical punches. I have learned how to make a difference through education, litigation, and legislation. Most importantly I have learned how to use my voice.

When atrocities like rape and child abuse happen we must all speak up because we ALL have to suffer the consequences. We are all paying the price literally and figuratively. The victims need and deserve our support. It is our civil duty, the most humane action and provides the best outcome for everyone, including you.