Content warning: This article discusses rape
“life has been deeply altered forever by the events of Jan 17th and 18th”
“never be happy go lucky self with that easy going personality and welcoming smile”
“every waking minute is consumed with worry, anxiety, fear and depression”
“these verdicts have broken and shattered our family in so many ways”
“life will never be the one dreamed about and worked so hard to achieve”
These statements may sound like something a family member or close friend of a victim of rape might say when talking about the way the sexual assault deeply affected the victim and changed their life completely.
But in fact, they are the words of a rapist’s father. A father who is justifying his son’s actions and portraying his son as a would-be victim of the American justice system.
The real victim’s statement is much more harrowing.
On the night of January 18th 2015, Brock Turner was found on top of an unconscious 22 year old woman behind a dumpster at a Stanford University frat party. He was charged with sexual assault.
Last week, Turner was sentenced to six months in county jail with probation. For rape.
Turner’s father, Dan Turner, feared that if Turner was to be sentenced like any other rapist, to a recommended minimum of two years in prison, it would have “a severe impact on him.” Is this not the very point of prison? In prison, are perpetrators not supposed to feel punished and reflect on the crimes they’ve committed, in the hope that by the time they are released, they’ve been so severely impacted by their time spent behind bars, that they would do anything to avoid returning to prison again?
What about the ‘severe impact’ Turner had on the woman he so unashamedly assaulted? The woman who says she had nightmares of being touched inappropriately that she couldn’t wake up from. The woman who says she’s lost her independence and feels uncomfortable in her own hometown.
In Turner’s father’s letter, he states that if Turner’s sentence is reduced, he will make it his mission to teach other college students about the dangers of drinking and educate them on, “how society can begin to break the cycle of binge drinking and its unfortunate results.”
The cycle of binge drinking.
NOT the cycle of sexual assault that is so often dismissed within American colleges.
NOT the cycle of rape culture that shifts the blame of action to party and campus culture, alcohol, and far too often, the victim themselves.
To me, the unfortunate results of binge drinking are a severe hangover and slight embarrassment for my moves on the dance floor.
How could society fail this young woman so drastically by allowing Turner to commit such a crime?
How could society fail this young woman by allowing her rapist to walk free in six months time or less?
And it seems society continues to fail this woman, as dozens of
people stand so strongly with Turner himself. Turner’s father has not been the only person who tried to justify Turner’s actions. Nineteen other personal accounts were submitted to the court as evidence of the type of person Turner is.
In one of the statements about Turner by his friend Leslie Rasmussen, she asks, “Where do we draw the line and stop worrying about being politically correct every second of the day and see that rape on campuses isn’t always because people are rapists?”
The line was drawn a long time ago. The line is consent. The line is a clear yes. If any type of sexual act is committed without the consent of one of the participants, it is rape. And only rapists cause rape. There’s no such thing as rape without a rapist. And a victim.
Turner’s grandparents, Carolyn and Richard Bradfield complained that, “Brock is the only person being held accountable for the actions of other irresponsible adults.”
Yes, the action of some other adults may have been irresponsible that night. But they were not sexual assault. They were not illegal. No other adult forced Turner to act the way he did. These people can not be held accountable for the actions of one, lone man.
The irony is that the more Turner’s family and friends attempt to downplay his actions and promote the type of person he is, the more Turner’s name and face is broadcast around the world. The epic media coverage of this case and the massive stir it has caused on social media will have more effect on Turner’s name in the future than his time spent in jail ever will. When politicians and celebrities are addressing you personally saying it’s time for you to accept what you’ve done and pay the consequences, it’s time to listen. And at least, say sorry.