I read something recently that shook me to my core. Unless you’ve been living under a rock, I’m sure you have already read the letter to Brock Turner. Written by his victim, it goes in to graphic detail of the assault and the lingering impact it had on this woman’s life.
I hadn’t finished the first paragraph before my entire body was covered in goosebumps. The letter left me nauseated and close to tears, both heartbroken for this poor woman and furious over the absolute failure of our justice system.
You can read this letter here, and I encourage you to do so…Because in between the heart wrenching details of this woman’s private suffering and the cold physical evidence of assault, there is a perfect example of why this continues to happen.
And yes, it continues at an alarming rate. According to RAINN.org, someone in America is sexually assaulted every 107 seconds. It happens approximately 293,000 times a year. Sadly, the majority of these crimes are never reported and 98% of rapists don’t spend one single day in prison.
Brock Turner violated this woman in the worst way possible, and he was given nothing more than a slap on the wrist. He’ll be out of jail (Yes, jail. Not prison, jail.) long before his sentence is over, free to assault again. And he will…I’m almost sure of it.
Because he doesn’t think he did anything wrong.
I’m willing to bet that he’s had a privileged life. Treated as if he’s entitled to every little heart’s desire simply because, what? He’s a guy? An athlete? From a family that has money?
Oh, but he’s going to be an Olympic swimmer!
Oh, but he has such a bright future!
Oh, but he’s never been in trouble before!
Oh, but it wasn’t his fault that she drank so much.
…pardon me for a second…
This is why the “boys will be boys” attitude is so dangerous. When we allow our sons to pick on little girls and claim it’s because they have a crush, we plant some nasty ideas into their minds about how women should be treated. When we see our boys acting out and shrug it off as just typical boy behavior, we teach them that they live in a world with no boundaries. When we value our sons over our daughters because they’ll carry the family name, we show them that they are above women. When we do nothing but hand over rewards while allowing bad behavior, we are saying, “there will be no negative consequences for your actions.”
If you don’t agree with me, please read the statement from Brock’s father, included in this article.
His life was deeply altered. He can barely eat. His life won’t turn out the way he dreamed it would. He doesn’t deserve to be punished. He has to register as a sex offender. All for just 20 minutes of action. Seriously?
His life deserves to be deeply altered, by the maximum sentence of 14 years in prison. Instead, he’ll probably be out in three months (you know, good behavior counts). He’ll still feel like he did nothing wrong, and now he’s justified by Judge Aaron Persky’s wildly lenient sentence. Sounds like the perfect recipe for a repeat offender to me.
We can’t let this continue to happen.
We have to stop sending girls home from school to change clothes because, oh dear, they may tempt our precious boys. Start telling boys that, yes, they can help themselves. That not only does no mean no, but only a clear and definite yes means yes. Hold boys accountable for their actions from day one.
How about empowering victims, giving them ways to safely report these crimes and then believing them? Stop attempting to lay blame on them by insinuating that wearing a certain outfit, drinking too much, or being a bit flirty meant that they were asking for it.
When someone is found guilty of the charges brought against him, make the punishment fit the crime. Because, news flash, your right to a bright future is revoked the second you hurt someone else’s chances at one.
Rape culture is real, and you don’t have to look far to find proof…But it doesn’t have to continue. We can all take steps to make our world safer. Not sure where to start? You could sign this petition to remove Judge Aaron Persky from the bench, or look for opportunities to volunteer in your community. And I think we can all agree that changing our attitude toward our boys and girls will go a long way in preventing future assaults.
If you or anyone you know has been sexually assaulted, please call the National Sexual Assault Hotline at 800.656.HOPE (4673) (for United States residents) for help. A private, live chat is also available if you’d rather not talk on the phone. Just click here to go to the RAINN website, and click the Chat Now button.