I am going to talk about something that make a lot of people uncomfortable. Something that our society (and societies around the world) likes to brush under the rug and pretend it isn’t as big of a deal as it really is.
The shower was boiling hot as it rained down against her back, but she couldn’t stop shivering. She was freezing; the kind of freezing that settles into your bones and holds on for dear life.
It was a movie night in with some girlfriends. The scene was a flashback of a young girl being brutally assaulted. As she watched that scene, she started to shake uncontrollably. The tears were fighting to spring from her eyes and down her cheeks. She felt ashamed and embarrassed of these tears. She excused herself because she couldn’t let anyone see her pain.
He was a nice guy. She agreed to dinner after weeks of him pursuing her. They were in the same Chem class and were put in the same project group. He had a toothy grin and a sparkle in his eye. He loved to joke and he made her laugh. She liked him. After dinner, they walked outside. He asked if she wanted to walk along the main street and look through the little shops. She agreed. As they started walking, he attempted to put his arm around her shoulder. She jumped back abruptly, instinctively. His face formed in the shape of an O as he put his hands up and apologized. Her face reddened and she knew it would be hard to explain why she acted the way she did from such a small gesture, so she didn’t.
Her friends wonder why she never wants to go dancing at night. They stopped asking after a while.
Her family doesn’t understand why she is so moody. Why is she snapping at the littlest of things? Why does she seem so angry all of the time?
Her body feels like a foreign object. She feels separated from herself and nothing looks or feels the way it once did.
She doesn’t remember what happened. Everything is fuzzy and distorted. The confusion is unlike any other kind of confusion she has ever felt. Why is her shirt ripped? Where are her panties? She doesn’t have any answers but her body is telling a story that she is completely unaware of.
The nightmares keep her up at night. The darkness brings old demons. New fears.
She feels isolated and alone. But most of all, she feels like it is her fault.
She will never be the same again.
Rape. Sexual Assault. Brock Allen Turner.
The story of the dexterous Stanford swimmer should not be news to anyone. In January 2015, he was discovered raping an unconscious woman behind a dumpster. I want to highlight that last part so you fully understand:
He was discovered raping an unconscious woman behind a dumpster. He was discovered by not just one person, but two people. Two eyewitnesses saw Brock Allen Turner thrusting his body on top of a half-naked, unconscious woman. She was unresponsive, limp, and completely unaware of what was happening to her.
Brock Allen Turner was sentenced to six months in jail and three years of probation. He is now a registered sex offender. The judge decided that anything more than this would have a “severe impact” on the helpless swimmer, Brock Allen Turner. We wouldn’t want that, now would we?
The original sentence was upwards of 14 years in prison. Prosecutors asked for 6 years. Brock Allen Turner never once admitted to sexually assaulting this woman. He never admitted to more than the fact that he drank too much. A case that was supposed to be about rape turned into a case about irresponsible drinking and too much alcohol consumption. The case focused more on the skills of this “esteemed swimmer” whose future was filled with Olympic competitions and possible gold medals than it was on the brutal sexual assault of a woman who was and is the only victim in all of this.
The judge was more concerned about Brock Allen Turner’s tainted future than he was about the brutal violation of an innocent woman.
The justice system failed her miserably.
There were two letters that were released to the public. One was the victims’ letter that she read aloud to her rapist. The other was a letter written by Brock Allen Turner’s ignorant father.
The victim bravely stood before the person who took away a part of her that she will never get back and told her story. A story that so many women can relate to. Here are a few excerpts, but I urge you to read her full letter here.
“You don’t know me, but you’ve been inside me, and that’s why we’re here today.”
“The next thing I remember I was in a gurney in a hallway. I had dried blood and bandages on the backs of my hands and elbow.”
“The thin piece of fabric, the only thing between my vagina and anything else, was missing and everything inside me was silenced.”
“I had multiple swabs inserted into my vagina and anus, needles for shots, pills, had a Nikon pointed right into my spread legs. After a few hours of this, they let me shower.”
“I was not only told that I was assaulted, I was told that because I couldn’t remember, I technically could not prove it was unwanted. And that distorted me, damaged me, almost broke me.”
“And then it came time for him to testify and I learned what it meant to be re-victimized.”
“You said, ‘Being drunk I just couldn’t make the best decisions and neither could she.’”
“Alcohol is not an excuse. Is it a factor? Yes. But alcohol was not the one who stripped me, fingered me, had my head dragging against the ground, with me almost fully naked.”
“Lastly you said, ‘I want to show people that one night of drinking can ruin a life.’”
“A life, one life, yours, you forgot about mine. Let me rephrase for you, I want to show people that one night of drinking can ruin two lives. You and me. You are the cause, I am the effect.”
“You took away my worth, my privacy, my energy, my time, my safety, my intimacy, my confidence, my own voice, until today.”
Can you believe that after her testimony, the judge was still able to give the sentence that he did? The case was strong. There were witnesses and a rape kit. The jury sided whole heartedly with the actual victim. Yet, Judge Aaron Persky was more concerned with the feelings and future of the rapist.
Brock Allen Turners father, Dan A. Turner, wrote his own letter. Here are some of the things he had to say:
“His life will never be the one that he dreamed about and worked so hard to achieve.”
“That is a steep price to pay for 20 minutes of action out of his 20 plus years of life.”
“His every waking minute is consumed with worry, anxiety, fear, and depression.”
“I was always excited to buy him a big ribeye steak to grill or to get his favorite steak for him… Now he barely consumes any food and eats only to exist.”
Yes, you read that right. Daddy is upset that his son doesn’t have an appetite for his favorite steak. Daddy can’t believe his son was given six months in jail for only “20 minutes of action.”
You, sir, are a disgrace to the human race. And frankly, so is your son. A parent will always love their child no matter what heinous act they may commit. But that doesn’t mean that you defend every action, every wrong doing. This man is defending his son’s actions and wants pity and understanding for his son who doesn’t want to eat steak anymore. This man is completely disregarding the severity of the situation. He is molding and compacting this woman’s brutal rape into a tiny ball that he has labeled “20 minutes of action.” And the judge agreed with him.
Those 20 minutes forever scarred a woman’s soul.
The judge won’t apologize. Brock Allen Turner won’t apologize or take responsibility for his actions. Brock’s sorry excuse for a father won’t apologize.
So I say to you, beautiful and strong WOMAN, I am so sorry for the inactions of the justice system and the dismissal of your assault.
I am sorry that you are like so many other women who will never see real justice.
I am sorry for your pain and the void that will forever go left unfilled in your soul.
Aside from all of that, I want you to know that you are incredibly strong and brave. I thank you for taking the stand and using your voice.
Thank you for not letting Brock Allen Turner silence you one day longer.
Thank you for being every woman who has ever been assaulted and chose to take back her life one piece at a time.
To Brock Allen Turner: You may have escaped a well-deserved 14 year prison sentence but you will never escape what lies ahead for you. I will do my part in shouting your disgrace from the rooftops. I will share every news article and blog that I come across that explains what you did. I will repeat your name and blast your face whenever the opportunity arises. Your future should be tainted. Why should we show lenience to you? You refuse to take responsibility for your actions. I hope you never have an appetite for steak again.
To Dan A. Turner: Do you want to do right by your son? Do you want to be the father that you should be? Have a talk with your son. Condemn the choices that he made that night. Voice your disapproval and disappointment in his actions. Tell him he needs to take responsibility for his actions, for the rape itself. Tell him blaming alcohol is the coward’s way out. Be the father he needs you to be.
To Judge Aaron Persky: You failed HER. You failed women everywhere. That is all.
To Society: We owe victims of sexual assault more than what we have been giving. We owe them justice. We owe them respect. Treating Rape as if it is no worse than a speeding ticket is unacceptable. Putting the attackers “needs” before the victim’s needs and rights is a flagrant misuse of the judicial system. Lastly, encourage women to talk about this more. Open the lines of communication. Let them know that it is not their fault and they deserve better. Make them understand that they need not feel ashamed. Take a stand for every woman who has ever been victimized. Help give them back their voice.
I hear you. I hear all of you. You are all stronger than the Brock Allen Turners’ of this world.