16 Sep 9 Ways To Bulletproof Your Daughter Against Domestic Violence

On the heels of Oscar Pistorius and Ray Rice, I sought advice from top experts on how we can raise daughters who are immune to the hands of violent men.

Far from victim blaming, we are talking about early prevention. High self-esteem increases a girl’s likelihood of finding healthy relationships and should she get involved with a violent man, be more equipped to leave him.

Here are recommendations from nine experts on how to raise daughters who are resilient and strong:

1. Be the model you want your daughter to copy. If you want her to be assertive, she needs to see you stand up for your views even if they may be unpopular. Let your daughter know you value people who speak their mind. Reinforce her assertiveness with ‘I like how you spoke up!’ and let her know you honor her opinions.

Dr. Michele Borba, educator and bestselling author

2. It’s critical to teach our children to question the stereotypes put forth by media and pop culture. Encourage them not to accept sexism and gratuitous violence as the norm. Teach them to question the toxic narrative that tells boys it’s not OK to have emotions or be sensitive, and tells girls they should value their youth, beauty, and sexuality over anything else.

Jennifer Siebel Newsom, CEO/Founder of The Representation Project and filmmaker, Miss Representation and The Mask You Live In

3. Role model healthy relationships at home. It’s important for girls to see what a fair and respectful relationship looks like. Teach girls what it looks like to disagree or have conflict in a healthy way.  Helping girls learn how to draw boundaries of what is safe and comfortable to them and how to communicate their wants and feelings is critically important.

Esta Soler, President of Futures Without Violence

4. I almost never tell my children that their worth comes from their attractiveness. Trying hard, good grades, grit and politeness get all the attention and validation in our house. Not “you are so cute.” From the very earliest days, I reinforced to my twin daughters that their body belongs to them. When they ask me to stop tickling or roughhousing, I jump back almost dramatically, and they — usually with a sly smile — will quote back to me, “It’s MY body!”

Nancy Hogshead-Makar, Women’s Sports Foundation

Nagy-bagoly Ilona | Dreamstime.com

5. The message that a man’s love should be her biggest goal overwhelmingly surrounds our daughters from the toddler years on. Parents can give their girls the knowledge that having a man in her life will not be her greatest achievement nor will it define her. By ensuring our girls grow up to be educated, resilient and self-sufficient, we can ensure they do not define their worth from external sources.

Melissa Wardy, author of Redefining Girly

6. Keep an open conversation that allows for deep honesty, uncomfortable questions, and opportunities for her to share things she feels vulnerable and unsure about. It’s important you let her know that nothing she shares will be judged. And then it’s even more important to make sure you enforce that in reality.

Jessica Weiner, Author and CEO, Talk to Jess

7. From the earliest ages, our children are inundated with messages that girls are less valuable than boys, that they are merely objects to be sexualized and prized by men. As a result, too many girls grow up without a strong sense of inner value, and they both expect and accept mistreatment by domestic partners. To reverse this thinking, we have to counteract the cultural messages that all our children — both boys AND girls — receive about their roles in the world.

Carrie Goldman, Author of Bullied: What Every Parent, Teacher, and Kid Needs to Know About Ending the Cycle of Fear

8. Help your daughter feel really good about who she is. Have high expectations for her and what she can accomplish in the world based on her strengths. Help her to view herself not only for what and who she is, but for who she can be. Convey the importance of having high expectations for her relationships.

Dr. Robi Ludwig, Psychotherapist

9. We often talk to our children about the need to respect others but refrain from teaching self respect, treating yourself as if you matter. We must teach girls that they are valuable and to see themselves as such. It’s not just a factor of the old adage “you must give respect to get it” but also, “you must give respect to yourself to get it from others.”

Dr. Robyn Silverman, child and teen development specialist

Samantha Ettus is a bestselling author, media personality and speaker focused on work/lifestyle management for women. Connect with her at @samanthaettus.

To read this article on Forbes, please click here.

Samantha Ettus is a bestselling author & corporate speaker. The Pie Life: A Guilt-Free Recipe for Success and Satisfaction will be released in September.