Red Flags for Girls: Eight Essential Directives for Strong Self-Esteem, Healthy Dating and Balanced Relationships

Rebecca Musser was born into the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (FLDS Church), an isolated, polygamist sect that splintered off from the Mormon faith. At age 19, she was forced into a polygamous marriage to the church’s prophet, a man more than four times her age. After her husband died and Warren Jeffs, the new prophet, tried to force her to remarry, Rebecca escaped. Rebecca is a national speaker, advocate for victims of human trafficking, and the author of The Witness Wore Red: The 19th Wife Who Brought Polygamous Cult Leaders to Justice. She speaks to women about abuse and how to break the cycle. Learn about her eight essential directives for young women:

1. Understand your needs.
You have needs. Others have needs too. One person’s needs should not impose on another person’s free will.

RED FLAG: When one person's needs (or wants) hurt another.

2. Understand your rights.
You have a voice. You have rights. You have the innate right to growth and happiness.

When your voice is not being heard, and you do not have a "say."

3. Separate words and actions.
Words and actions must be measured. You are accountable for our words and actions no matter your position or title.

When words or actions are contradictions or are especially harmful given a person's title, authority, role or relationship in your life.

4. Measure your confidence.
A helpful gauge of healthy relationships is how confident you feel in the presence of others. Do you grow in confidence or lose confidence when with another individual?

When you feel small, inadequate, inferior or anxious.

5. Monitor your thoughts.
When we are healthy, our thoughts are healthy and optimistic. Are your thoughts positive or negative?

When your thoughts are destructive or unhealthy.

6. Measure your shame.
Shame is the heavy, dark feeling that we are bad and that we deserve bad things. Shame makes us feel dirty and unworthy, embarrassed and meaningless. How much of your time or energy is spent feeling bad or feeling like a failure?

When you feel embarrassed, unworthy, guilted or self-conscious. When you feel like a failure.

7. Measure your pressure levels.
When you are in healthy relationships, you feel encouraged to grow. Unhealthy relationships, however, make you feel pressured and anxious. Measuring how much pressure you feel and where that pressure comes from can help you place encouraging people around you.

When you feel bullied, guilted, controlled or pressured to do something you don't feel good about.

8. Own your right to say “No.”
Healthy people say no to things that are not good for them. You have the right to choose your friends, your habits, your mindsets and your goals. If something feels unhealthy in your life, you have the right to say “No.”

When you feel you do not agree or feel you are being trespassed against, abused or wronged.

I am my own best friend. I watch out for myself. I protect myself in the way I think, the things I do, and the people I choose in my life. I think healthy thoughts and choose healthy actions that are right for me and bring the best outcomes for my life. I stand up for myself and I forgive myself. I wish success for myself physically, relationally, spiritually, and financially.

I recognize that every choice has results and consequences. I choose wisely.
I am honest about my behavior and the behavior of others. I have clear and healthy boundaries in all of my relationships. I interact with empathy and I am conscious about my rights and the rights of others.

I ask for what I need and want in healthy ways. When situations or relationships are difficult or uncomfortable, I seek guidance from those I trust. I keep myself safe in every way and I am a voice for others when they are not safe. I am true to my feelings and my dreams. I give myself permission to grow, permission to make mistakes, and permission to succeed. My life has infinite value and purpose.

-- Rebecca Musser, survivor, witness, advocate

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