Local Commentary

Guest Commentary: We Support the Girls & We Thank Them, Too

By Rob & Nan Hof

Have you seen the red signs around Falls Church City and wondered what they mean? Here’s what they’re all about.

Four young girls were violated by a trusted member of our community. Instead of choosing to suffer in silence as too many victims of sexual assault do, they were not silent. They stood, and with young, strong, brave voices they told the truth and they were heard. For that, we must thank them.

Their strength, perseverance, and courageousness, are a result of their upbringing, the adults that have guided them, and the sense of community that has been instilled in them. For that, we must thank them as well.

Simply put, while there are many complexities, supporting the girls is simple; the signs are our way of demonstrating to the girls how much we appreciate their willingness to stand, speak, report, endure, and ultimately protect our community and beyond. This is also sending other girls and boys a message to say that telling the truth and reporting inappropriate acts is expected. Speaking up is right. You will be heard. The facts will be gathered. We will listen and we will respond. We Support the Girls has already led to healthy and positive opportunities for parents to educate and reassure their children.

Our community is deeply indebted to these four girls and their families. Our gratitude also extends to the Falls Church City Police Department, the Falls Church City Sheriff’s Department, and all the other law enforcement and justice agencies involved. There are many that stood with these girls, and their families, right from the beginning and they have never wavered in their support of them. We Support the Girls is an opportunity for our community to stand and have our voices heard, just as these brave young girls have done.

There are those that do not want to see the signs at all. We would certainly prefer that we not have to put the signs up. Silence has not served us nor will silence affect change. Additionally, we understand and respect that some in our community are not comfortable placing a sign in their yard, for various reasons.

This campaign/effort/demonstration is not about simply putting a sign in your yard. There are many ways for you to participate in a positive and constructive manner. The more you do, the stronger we become. You can write a letter, send an email, or post on a blog. The girls will hear your messages of appreciation. You can talk with your neighbors, colleagues and friends. But be warned, you may come to learn that someone close to you or someone close to the person you are talking with, has also been victimized in the past. Be prepared to listen. You can make an effort to understand more of the details of this case and related statistics. You can read this commentary with your children and turn this into an educational discussion. You can submit an idea or be willing to help with upcoming events. You can attend City Council, School Board and other committee meetings. You have the right to speak at many of these meetings and voice your expectations.

Your involvement will demonstrate that you expect accountability and sound decision making. You may choose to make a donation via our GoFundMe platform. The majority of the donations will be used to increase victim awareness, advocacy, support and education for those affected by these types of heinous crimes, and to further efforts that seek to improve the lives of children that have been victimized.

Along with Support, what else do the red signs say? They say many different things: Thank You, Awareness, Advocacy, Community, Integrity, Uplift, Honor, Pride and Survivor. These are just a few of the appropriate, positive words that have been used by the citizens of this community when they requested a sign for their yard.

So we ask, especially now that the election is over, how are you going to support the girls? And in turn, how are you going to support our community and help change the culture that has led us to where we are today? How are we going to choose to improve and strengthen our community?

Let us all stand with the girls and support a return to the strong, safe, respectful, and ethical community that we claim to be. Let us all stand with the girls in protecting our community’s greatest asset – our children. This is a call to action. Now is the time to stand, speak with a strong, brave voice, and be heard.

In closing, we would like to speak to the girls directly and convey a very important message. Thank you girls, for saving so many.

If you have questions, comments, concerns, ideas, messages or donations please contact us at WSTGFCInspire@gmail.com, WSTGFC@gmail.com and www.GoFundMe.com/WeSUPPORTtheGIRLS.