Here's to strong women...may we know them, may we be them, and may we raise them.
April 5, 2023

Sexual Assault: Creating a Dialogue & 7 Phrases to Tell Our Girls (Encore) // with Carmelita Tiu

Apple Podcasts podcast player icon
Spotify podcast player icon
Google Podcasts podcast player icon
Castro podcast player icon
RSS Feed podcast player icon
Amazon Music podcast player icon

(Ep. 34 Encore -- because this topic is THAT IMPORTANT).

April is sexual assault awareness month -- a reminder to acknowledge and support survivors, advocate for further awareness, and educate ourselves and our kids.

While we know what sexual assault is on some visceral level, I wanted to do a quick episode that spells out what body boundaries, sexual assault, and consent are - and how to talk about these things without instilling fear or anxiety.

Also, 7 phrases that our daughters need to hear, to help open up the space for safe conversations about sexual assualt.

Listen to hear:

  • The definition of sexual assault and consent
  • How to bring up this topic with your daughters, including using current events and pop culture to help facilitate conversations
  • 7 things to tell your daughters for more open communication, and help them feel aware about sexual assault and empowered by the love and safety you provide


Other episodes to check out:

  • 24/7 Free Support Hotline - 800-656-HOPE (4673)


Know Them, Be Them, Raise Them

Subscribe here:Apple,Spotify,Google. And if you got something out of the podcast, I'd love it if you could leave a 5* review!



About Your Host, Carmelita / Cat / Millie Tiu

Mom, spouse, coach, podcaster, wordsmith, legal eagle.  Endlessly curious about how we can show up better for ourselves – because when we do that, we also show up better for our kids and those around us. 

Moms -- Are you looking for direction after a life change?

Do you feel like you're reacting to life instead of defining it?

Do you sense you're made for something more?

Head to to learn more about Cat, her 1:1 coaching, the mom collective, and her newsletter.

Schedule a free 30 minute complimentary coaching consult to see if a coach/life strategist is right for you!


[00:00:00] Carmelita (Cat) Tiu, Host:Welcome to Know Them Be Them Raise Them. A show to help moms stay informed and inspired so they can show up for themselves and their daughters the way they want to. I'm your host Carmelita Tiu. Join me each week as I cover a variety of topics, all designed to support mindful, and growth-oriented moms of girls, especially girls in their crucial tween and teen years. If you like what you hear, be sure to subscribe, tell a friend and follow @knowberaisethem on Instagram and Facebook. 

[00:00:32]Before I head into today's episode, I do want to mention that I'll be talking about sexual assault from an educational perspective. 

[00:00:39]There are no personal stories or graphic experiences, but I do discuss definitions of sexual assault and consent. For some, this might be difficult to hear. Or you may choose not to listen to this around young children. I encourage everyone to assess their situations, take care of themselves, and if you need additional resources, head to That's R-A-I-N-N dot org or check the show notes for links. 

[00:01:08]So as many of you know, April is sexual assault awareness month. And if you're a woman listening to this, which you probably are since most of you are moms. Chances are as a high school and college student, you knew people who were victims of sexual assault, like I did. It's a sobering personal reminder of the pervasiveness of sexual assault. 

[00:01:31]According to RAINN the rape abuse and incest national network. And the nation's largest anti-sexual violence organization. One in five women experienced sexual assault at some point in their lifetimes. Every 68 seconds, an American is sexually assaulted and 90% of victims are female. And more than 93% of victims of child sexual abuse know their abuser. 

[00:01:57]So while it may be so uncomfortable. I appreciate that there is a month to acknowledge and support survivors, empower us with information, and remind us to educate ourselves and our kids. 

[00:02:10]For most of us, hopefully all of us, we already have an awareness of sexual abuse and what we can do to help prevent it from happening. So your girls probably already know some of the fundamentals that you've been teaching them all these years. Like what inappropriate touching is and how certain parts of their body are private. 

[00:02:29]Physical boundaries may also be something you've discussed. I personally had to learn more about this as an adult. For instance, I didn't really feel like it was an option not to hug people, especially relatives growing up. So it was a learning experience for me too, as much as it was for my girls to think about this. 

[00:02:49]But as our daughters get older and progress into their teens, and their awareness of relationships and sex are developing. I'm realizing a need to talk about more than just sexual abuse, which is a term mainly used to describe sex crimes, committed against children. I also want to start talking about sexual assault, which is more often used to describe sex crimes against adults and encapsulates what they're more likely to encounter in high school or college. 

[00:03:16]These are conversations that on some level, I did not want to have this soon. But at the same time, I know I want them to happen sooner than later, so they aren't blindsided. If something happens to them or a friend. And a big part of preventing sexual assault is creating a dialogue early. 

[00:03:34]So in case it's helpful to you, I came up with a shortlist of ideas on when and how to approach these subjects because I am someone that is not very good at just starting a random conversation about these things. And I also have some baseline concepts I'm going to revisit or tell my daughters for the first time about sexual assault and I'll close with the seven phrases I want to be sure they hear coming out of my mouth regularly. 

[00:04:03]So when and how to talk about sexual assault. We have to navigate a lot of tough topics as parents. And so many times, I don't think to talk about them until a life event brings it front and center. But for something like this, where education is empowerment and can prevent bad things from happening, you don't want to wait. 

[00:04:24]So remember it may never feel like the right or a good time. But even if it's uncomfortable for everyone, forge ahead and persist. Even if it's awkward. If your daughter doesn't want to talk about sexual assault at a particular moment, you can drop it but bring it up later. 

[00:04:41]There could easily be a valid reason she didn't want to initially engage, like maybe she was preoccupied with school. Or trying to finish homework. Or maybe she's uncomfortable and needs a little time to adjust to the idea of talking about this topic with you. But do bring it up again. 

[00:05:00]And it doesn't have to be out of the blue. You can use current events or the content your daughter is consuming as a conversation starter. So something like song lyrics and online games can be fodder for discussion. You can ask, how would you feel in this situation? Or I know sometimes peering over my daughter's shoulder as she's playing Roblox, something might happen and I'll ask, you know, how did that make you feel or how would you respond differently next time? 

[00:05:26]And you can always say something like if something like this ever happens to you, I hope you know, I want you to come talk to me. 

[00:05:33]Also talking about safety issues generally, say walking home a certain way, or being aware of one surroundings, that can be a tie in to talks about safety in different situations, like at parties or gatherings. Situations where trusting their gut, et cetera, is really important. 

[00:05:51]If you find yourself in a discussion about boundaries in one context, say in a friendship setting, it can be an easy segue into how to say no clearly. Talking about boundaries and other contexts such as in a romantic relationship or on dates and how boundaries are a healthy part of any relationship. 

[00:06:08]You can also share your own story in an age appropriate way. You can say, this is what happened to me and I don't want this to happen to you. Or there was this time someone tried to do this to me, and here's how I got out of that situation. Be sure you aren't blaming or shaming yourself when you're sharing your story or your daughter may feel ashamed and blame herself if she's ever in a similar situation. 

[00:06:31]So those are some ideas about how to have discussions about these topics in a more organic and natural way. 

[00:06:40]In terms of understanding sexual assault. The first thing I'm going to reiterate to my girls is what their body boundaries are. Your tween and teen daughters already know what their private parts are and that no one should touch them inappropriately. But it's also not okay for someone to ask them or force them to touch someone else's private parts and it's not okay for people to take pictures of their private parts. 

[00:07:02]This may seem like a no-brainer, but it's a nuance that may not be entirely clear depending on what their age is and what they've been exposed to. And you don't want your girls thinking they are somehow at fault or culpable if a guy grabs her hand and stuffs it down his pants, or someone snaps a picture of them when they're changing. I wish I could say these weren't real world scenarios, but sadly, they are. 

[00:07:28]The second thing I want them to know is what exactly sexual assault is. While I know I've taught my daughters about unwanted touching, I'm not sure they really know what the term sexual assault encompasses. They may only think of it in the context of an attack from a stranger. Sexual assault is any unwanted and forced sexual behavior that happens without a person's consent. It can include touching, kissing and other sexual acts and it doesn't have to look violent. 

[00:07:57]It can happen between two people who are in a romantic relationship, between friends, between family members, acquaintances, or strangers. Anyone can be a victim of sexual assault and sexual assault is a serious crime. 

[00:08:12]The third thing I want them to understand is consent. According to RAINN, consent is an agreement between participants to engage in sexual activity. Consent should be clearly and freely communicated. A verbal and affirmative expression of consent can help both you and the other party understand and respect each other's boundaries. Consent cannot be given by anyone who's underage drunk incapacitated by drugs or alcohol or asleep or unconscious. 

[00:08:41]Also if someone agrees to an activity because they're being threatened, that is not considered consent because it wasn't given freely. And I want them to learn about unequal power dynamics. Such as between a teacher and a student, or an employer and an employee. Those dynamics also mean that consent cannot be freely given. 

[00:09:02]All of these things I didn't learn about until I was an adult, like in my twenties and thirties. And I really wish I knew them sooner in my teens, in junior high school even. I know these are all heavy topics, so I plan to talk about them in age appropriate ways that hopefully won't freak them out. 

[00:09:22]The important thing is to start the dialogue. I want them to know what these things are, so they're aware and can stand up for themselves and others, if they hear or know something is happening. 

[00:09:33]As for the seven things that we can all tell our daughters. These are things I've compiled after reading countless articles and mulling over ad nauseum, what I hope my daughters learn and eventually know in their hearts to be true. 

[00:09:47]Number one, trust your gut. Encourage your daughters to recognize their intuition. Tell them that if something doesn't feel right, it probably isn't. Encourage them to trust themselves and their spidey senses and get out of the situation as quickly as possible. 

[00:10:03]Teach them to ask themselves, is this a safe situation to be in? This will help them think critically and holistically about a situation. Not just who they're with or where they're going, but kind of big picture. 

[00:10:16]Even though I'd like to think that tweens and young teens aren't in iffy situations, I can remember that even in my sheltered suburban upbringing, I was in maybe sixth or seventh grade when I was first offered alcohol by a friend's high school aged older brother. He and his friends were drinking in the basement when their parents were at a wedding. Nothing bad happened. I didn't feel threatened, my friend and I steered clear of the basement after that. 

[00:10:40]But it's a reminder that these situations can come up when no one's expecting it. 

[00:10:45]Number two, you won't get in trouble. For many tweens and teens, the fear of being punished keeps them from sharing with their parents. So tell them repeatedly that if they're ever in a bad situation, what's more important is that they share it with you so you can tackle the problems and issues together. 

[00:11:03]This also means trying to listen to them in a nonjudgmental way, even when they're not sharing bombshell news. Keeping a level head when dealing with life's day to day frustrations will help your daughter feel safer if she has to share uncomfortable news at a later point in time.

[00:11:21]Number three, I am always grateful when you share with me. Kind of piggybacking on the previous point. Praise your daughter when she shares with you. You want her to know it was okay to come to you and that you're glad. This will encourage her to keep doing this. When she shares with you say. Thanks for telling me that, or I love when you share, no matter how big or small. 

[00:11:44]Number four, it's okay to say no and you always have the right to say no. This goes back to the concept of boundaries and consent. Help them practice saying no. Make sure they know that consent is a freely given affirmative yes to something that's about to happen. And anything else is a no. Silence, saying something else that wasn't an outright no, saying yes beforehand, and then changing your mind. Wearing provocative clothes, smiling, flirting, being in a relationship with someone who thinks they're entitled to something. None of this equals a yes. 

[00:12:21]Number five, sexual assault is never the victim's fault. The person who commits sexual assault is solely and fully responsible for their actions. Period. End of story. 

[00:12:35]Number six, I will always believe you. I didn't hear this growing up. My parents and I didn't really talk about sexual assault except to talk about how to avoid it. Like don't go to parties alone. Don't accept drinks from strangers. 

[00:12:48]And there's just so much that I didn't know about sexual assault when I was in my teens and twenties. But I do know that so many sexual assault victims struggle to come forward because they're afraid they won't be believed. I hope that by hearing these words repeatedly from me, then if something ever happens to my daughters, there'll be less afraid to come to me. 

[00:13:10]Number seven, I am always here for you and I will love you no matter what. Unconditional love is the most powerful way we can show up for our kids. I often tell my daughters, I love them, but to be honest, I don't often add on no matter what, and I'm going to start doing that because if they don't hear me say this, they may assume I'll only love them when they're calm, or when they've accomplished something or haven't made mistakes or they get good grades or they make me happy. And we have to let our girls know that our love is unwavering and nothing can take that away. 

[00:13:47]Remember, it's important to arm your kids with knowledge and power. To protect themselves, even if you aren't familiar with something or you feel uncomfortable talking about it. And just like we remember instances when someone didn't say, I'm sorry, or maybe we know we've never heard, "I love you no matter what," our words carry so much weight. Our daughters will remember whether we had the courage and foresight to talk to them about important issues like sexual assault. And say these phrases that remind them of how important and loved they are and that you are a safe harbor for her, even during the ugly, sad, disappointing, or confusing parts of her life. 

[00:14:32] Carmelita (Cat) Tiu, Host:If you or someone, you know, has been sexually assaulted. Know that you are not alone. It is not your fault. And help is available

[00:14:43]You can call the RAINN telephone hotline. 1-800-656 hope or 1-800-656-4673. Or head to that's For more resources and information, including an online chat hotline, a Spanish online chat hotline, and other organizations that can help. 

[00:15:06]Thanks so much for listening. I hope you feel a little more informed and empowered by today's episode. Remember, you're showing up for yourself and your daughter by learning about these issues and helping your daughter navigate the world in an informed way. 

[00:15:20]We are all in this together, and I'm grateful to be in this with you. If you liked what you heard. Please share with a friend and leave a review on Apple Podcasts or Spotify. And here's to strong women. May we know them, may we be them, and may we raise them.