This post is unlike any I’ve posted before. I went back and forth about writing and sharing this post but in the end decided that this is definitely something that needs to openly discussed. Please read with caution, this may be difficult to read if you’ve had the unfortunate experience of living through a sexual assault. This is a serious post about an extremely serious matter and I hope you take my words and allow them to start a discussion amongst you and the people around you. This cannot be a topic that we run away from, if we don’t allow ourselves to openly discuss this, then we run the risk of being a part of the problem.
Brock Turner is a name you need to remember.
This past Thursday Brock Turner was sentenced to six months in county jail for sexually assaulting a woman behind a dumpster. You read that correctly; he was sentenced to six months. Six months for hurting this woman in ways that she will work all of her life to repair. Six months for not only doing this terrible act, but also refusing to accept responsibility. Six months for putting this woman through the pain and heartache of a trial when he had already caused her more than enough pain.
Judge Persky (write this name down as well) decided on the short sentence because he believed that a longer sentence would have a “severe impact” on Turner’s life. Turner
is was a champion swimmer. I say was because someone who is a rapist and an athlete should no longer be called an athlete. That person should now be called a rapist who happens to also swim. The judge was afraid that Turner, with no previous criminal record and an impeccable swimming time would not be able to rebuild his life if he were to receive a harsher sentence. Turner’s father wrote a statement in defense of his son and in that statement he wrote the following about Turner: “He will never be his happy go lucky self with that easy going personality and welcoming smile. His every waking minute is consumed with worry, anxiety, fear, and depression. You can see this in his face, the way he walks, his weakened voice, his lack of appetite.” He disgustingly continued, “That is a steep price to pay for 20 minutes of action out of his 20 plus years of life.”
“20 minutes of action”
I am disgusted by the events of this case. I have read article after article trying to make sense of how Judge Persky came to his decision. How can a man look at the facts of this case and decide that this man’s future is more valuable than the woman who he hurt? At this time, I’d like to point out that I use the term “man” very, very loosely because Brock Turner is far from a man.
As a society how do we constantly allow this to happen? Why do we so often tell women that their worth is not as important as a man’s worth? As a woman, how am I ever going to feel safe in this world, when the very fact that I am a woman puts me in danger? Why must women constantly apologize for being women as opposed to men needing to apologize for objectifying us?
On Thursday, the woman who Turner sexually assaulted stood up and addressed him directly. She read off of a statement that she had written. A statement that is honest, heartbreaking and painful to read. This statement needs to be read.
“After a few hours of this, they let me shower. I stood there examining my body beneath the stream of water and decided, I don’t want my body anymore. I was terrified of it, I didn’t know what had been in it, if it had been contaminated, who had touched it. I wanted to take off my body like a jacket and leave it at the hospital with everything else.”
Please read her statement. Take her words and share them with every friend, sister, cousin, stranger that you come across. Read the statement to any boy (of decent age) that you hope one day becomes a respectable man. Read this statement to each student that is about to start college. Read this statement to every parent who lives in the “old school” state of mind and who believes that sexual assault is a thing that is not meant to be discussed. You can find her statement HERE. Share her words with people you care about. We should never forget about what Brock Turner did. We should never forget how Judge Persky gave Turner a six month sentence for sexual assault. We should never forget what this woman had to go through but most importantly, we should never forget that this woman has taken charge of the word “victim”. She has taken her situation and given everyone who has gone through this a voice.
She is brave and she is strong. She may not feel like it now, she may sometimes forget her undeniable power but I hope that she has surrounded herself by people who will constantly remind her of how bright her light shines. This is another excerpt from her statement:
Unfortunately cases like this are not isolated incidents, too often are women stripped of their self worth and dignity. Too often are we silenced by men who believe to be more important than us. Too often are we shamed for things that are done to us, without our consent.
If anything positive can be taken from this terrible situation, I hope it’s that you remember the statement above. As someone who has lived through being sexually assaulted, I thank this nameless warrior. I will stand next to her and I will hold her hand while we fight to be heard and I guarantee you that we will be heard.