Continuing the Conversations

Going away to college is a huge transition. It’s a huge stressor. No matter how much freedom you’ve given your teen, there’s a huge leap between living at home and moving away and living on your own. The sudden freedom, access to alcohol and drugs, pressure of social media and stress— it’s a lot to deal with.

So I help families learn how to talk to their teens about the tough stuff and get their kids to start listening, using laughter, and knowledge gained through personal experience, to provide conversation starting points. We need to wake up and make sure our teens know that they need to be aware of their surroundings.

Hopefully, you laid the groundwork for this talk when your teen was younger, and began stressing the importance of personal boundaries. For example; no one else should ever touch your private parts. Hopefully, there were also conversations about stranger-danger, and about what kinds of physical touching were okay and what types were inappropriate – and about what to do if someone ever did touch them inappropriately.

These are not always the most fun conversations, but they are necessary.

Even if you feel like you haven’t had enough talks of this kind, it’s not too late to coach your teen to have stronger, or better, personal boundaries.

This is a conversation that needs to start BEFORE your college freshman leaves for orientation.

elaine williams, talking about it, sexual assault, going away to college, parents, parenting teens, sexual assault awareness

The talk about sexual assault on college campuses is just like the drug and alcohol talks that hopefully began a while ago and that you continue to have. These are serious topics with life-changing consequences. These are not topics that have a checkbox next to them that can be marked “checked and done”.

The assault that happened to me my freshman year haunted me for years and years. Even after I got sober and had a miracle breakthrough in forgiveness… even after I did years of therapy and transformational workshops… the buried shame I didn’t know I still had affected every aspect of my life: my self esteem, my choices in men, relationships, my ability to create work, my finances,my choice in business partners, and my health.

I’m lucky to have had many amazing mentors and teachers to support me. I’m lucky that I did not stay in an emotionally abusive relationship that was beginning to turn physical. I’m lucky that I did not go through foreclosure or bankruptcy because of being in business with unethical business partners. But I’ve been close…

Assault Can Be Prevented

It’s going to take some work, but we can do it. But we need more than new text apps.

We need more light on campuses. We need more security. We need safe escorts back from libraries and any buildings that are open at night. We need to make sure no one is walking anywhere alone. Period.

Talking About the Tough Stuff: Complacency Is Dangerous

I recently flew back from Austin, where there was a horrific rape, mutilation and murder that
happened on UT’s campus. The beautiful freshman girl was a dance major. She was walking
back to her dorm from the UT Drama building where I took classes. She was halfway to her
dorm. She’d just texted her roommates that she was on her way. But she was alone.

And someone found her. I don’t know more details but it makes me sick to my stomach.
We could have prevented this. My heart bleeds for her family and for all the people at UT
who are affected by this. It’s shocking and scary.


Here are some tips to share with your teen:

1. It’s perfectly okay to say “No” or “No, thank you.” Both are complete sentences, and need no explanation or justification.

2. Behold, the power of the pause. Take a breath. Think it through!

3. Responding means you’re ready to act responsibly. Reacting has a totally different meaning and is impulsive.


We can make college campuses safer, and you can help.
Please fill out this short, anonymous survey about being a parent to a teen. Together we can continue the conversations. If we have to talk about it until we are hoarse, then we will.