Brock Turner is out of prison. After only three months of his six month sentence, the one the media keeps calling “former Stanford swimmer,” rather than his actual title, “convicted sex-offender”, is walking free. To say the least, I’m angry. And we should all be angry. A man who was convicted of such a crime being allowed to get back to his ‘real’ life so quickly should bother the hell out of everyone.
If you haven’t heard of the case, Turner was sentenced to six months in prison after he was caught in the act of sexually assaulting an unconscious woman behind a dumpster.
Yes, Brock Turner is American. The judge who convicted and sentenced him is also an American (and for the record, has chosen not to sit in on sexual assault cases anymore). The correctional system that let him out after half his sentence for ‘good behaviour’ is also American. However, this situation is not unique to Turner or his country. Things like this happen all the time and they say something really serious about our society.
When I read the letter that the woman he assaulted wrote and published online, I felt a little overwhelmed. I think a lot of people did. Hearing about what happened in a completely open and honest way from the person to which the thing happened to is really rare. People who have been sexually assaulted don’t feel like they can talk about it. Why? Because this is what happens: Brock Turner, the boy with the bright future in swimming, as they say, viciously assaulted an unconscious person but he pouted and everyone felt bad for him, for the ‘one mistake’ that would ruin his life.
This is of course just another in a series of young men with ‘bright futures’ being let off the hook for ‘one mistake.’ It’s the illusion that this was a one time thing, that it won’t happen again, that maybe the victim should have been more careful, less drunk, walking with friends, gone to another school, wearing something else or any other reason that would have put them in a different place where this person, this sexual predator, couldn’t have got to them.
The system works for the perpetrators, not the victims. Turner is described as a swimmer, a bright kid, a decent person. An innocent boy, the victim of a campaign to ruin his potential, just take a look at his sweet face. His victim? A girl who parties and drinks too much and passes out in random locations and doesn’t even remember what happened to her. Do you see the difference here?
The fact is, rape can happen to anyone. Any sex, gender, age, race, cultural background, socioeconomic status, level of intoxication or state of dress. Literally anyone. If you think you don’t know anyone who has been a victim of sexual violence, you’re probably wrong. If you think you don’t know anyone who will become a victim of sexual violence in the future, you are probably wrong. But you might not hear about it. It was a mistake, and shouldn’t ruin anyone’s life, right?
If you, or someone you know, has experienced sexual violence or fears that they might, you don’t have to stay silent. Check out http://www.asaferbrock.org/ for information on how to get help. You can also text their 24 hour support line at 289-990-7233.