I love love love the new Beauty and the Beast movie. One of the best parts, of course, is the Beast’s library, so I wrote “Belle Would Be Enchanted by These 10 Lovely Libraries in Hotels” for USA Today 10Best.Read All Entries
An Open Letter to 11-Year-Old Girl Scout Miriam Mendoza from Olivia Klaus, Director of "Sin By Silence" Airing on TV Tonight
Today you have the world ahead of you. Today you can be anything you want, or be anyone you can dream of being. Today you have the world at your fingertips.
I remember when I was your age and felt invincible. Felt like I could take on the world. Now that many years have passed, I have realized how dangerous our world is. There are people who want to use you and take your choices away from you. When you want their attention, love and approval, please remember that love is never supposed to hurt. Love is not jealous. Someone who loves you won’t ever use you, isolate you, or trap you.
Your family has experienced the dangers of abusive relationships firsthand. The heartbreaking death of your cousin Diana was a tragedy, but your passion to make a difference has turned it into an opportunity. I knew that I had to write and let you know how proud I am of your tremendous courage.
From the work I do as a filmmaker, I know women who are on the opposite outcome of what your cousin went through. The women in our documentary, Sin by Silence, overcame the odds of abuse. Yet, unfortunately, they paid the ultimate price in protecting themselves, along with their families, and they remain trapped behind prison walls. Like your cousin, these women found themselves in a relationship and situation with no way out. Within a split second, they had to make the decision to defend their life against their abusers, and have spent over 20 years in prison. Yet, it is because there are people like you in this world doing incredible things to bring about awareness that I know lives will be saved. You are creating an incredible legacy to carry on the memory of your cousin. I commend you on being a role model activist for all generations.
Miriam, you are amazing. Already at age 11, you are changing the world! Thank you for giving me new inspiration to trudge forward in the work that I do to advocate to end violence against women. Thank you for also being a fellow advocate who is taking on the cause to champion change. Yet, when you get to high school and you meet that first boy who just sweeps you off your feet, know that the choices you make now will affect you for the rest of your life. Be strong. Know that you matter. You are beautiful, important, and can change the world.
Forever in my heart,