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An Open Letter to 11-Year-Old Girl Scout Miriam Mendoza from Olivia Klaus, Director of "Sin By Silence" Airing on TV Tonight

Sin by SilenceEvery 9 seconds, a woman is beaten. That fact alone should be enough to get you to set your DVR to tape Sin by Silence when it makes its world broadcast premiere on the Investigation Discovery Channel tonight. This documentary about the survivors of domestic violence who are serving life sentences after being convicted for the deaths of their abusers is shocking in so many ways, not the least of which is that they are still victims — this time, of a misguided justice system. The women themselves — who have formed an activist group, Convicted Women Against Abuse, while in prison — are articulate, compassionate and determined to make a difference and prevent women on the outside from ending up in their situation.

This is the kind of movie that makes you want to get involved yourself, and the Sin by Silence website offers practical valuable resources, including a list of warning signs. When director/producer Olivia Klaus heard that 11-year-old Girl Scout Miriam Mendoza had inspired us to launch M-Power U with StyleSubstanceSoul.com after her 19-year-old cousin was killed last year by her estranged husband, she wrote Miriam a letter which we are proud to share here.

Olivia is making a difference. Miriam is making a difference. How are you making a difference?

Remember, every 9 seconds … 


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,

Olivia Klaus

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