Staying Silent is Easier

This week I have been following the story about Brock Turner who was convicted on three counts of rape in a jury trial. I am sure many have seen at least something about it on the news or on the internet. Brock is a student at Stanford. He is an Olympic hopeful in swimming. And he is a rapist. But he only is going to jail for three months if he is on good behavior or he might serve his full sentence six months if he is not. Six months? It seems not enough. (update: I missed the fact that Stanford expelled Brock and US Swim banned him. – so some natural consequences are happening – thanks Rachel C for giving me these facts that I missed.)

The judge in the case – Aaron Persky- is also getting huge backlash- he has been recently reappointed to his seat on the bench as he ran unopposed – but there are petitions to have him removed. I don’t know why he felt that six months was enough other than he said “A prison sentence would have a severe impact on him. I think he will not be a danger to others,”

Really? Severe impact- we don’t want that for Brock.

Here is a quote from the New York Times (full article here)

The judge, identified by The Guardian as a Stanford alumnus, handed Mr. Turner, a champion swimmer, far less than the maximum 14 years after he was convicted, pointing out that he had no “significant” prior offenses, he had been affected by the intense media coverage, and “there is less moral culpability attached to the defendant, who is … intoxicated,” The Guardian said.

The victim said Mr. Turner had admitted drinking, but still had not acknowledged any fault in the attack, insisting the episode had been consensual. She said the court privileged his well-being over her own, and in the end declined to punish him severely because the authorities considered the disruption to his studies and athletic career at a prestigious university when determining his sentence.

Seriously? – Oh My God – am I really reading this?

Have we forgotten about the victim? Didn’t she suffer a severe impact? Isn’t her life already severely changed?  Doesn’t she matter? (The answer is Yes She Does by the way). You can read what she had to say for yourself here – she wrote a 12 page letter and read it to the court. This young woman admits to getting drunk as happens to many people on occasion  – and often on college campuses- she was at a frat party -and she blacked out – she was very drunk -in fact she was unconscious when the two men on bikes (the Swedes) came across Brock and the victim as he was on top of her behind a dumpster dry humping away. Thank God for them. One of the Swedes was so upset by what he saw that he was crying when police got there. There are good men out there.

What she knows is that she did not knowingly consent to his touching her. Sadly the defense got to fill in the blanks because she doesn’t have a memory of the event. Brock says she consented to being fingered (sorry for the crassness) – but even if that is true – even if she said ok in her drunken state -is that really a manly thing to take advantage of a woman when she is that inebriated? Someone who can’t put sentences together? and to attack her behind a dumpster? (My mom brain cannot understand how Brock’s mom -who has a daughter- can even look at her son without wanting to hurl. Or at least want him to take responsibility.)I think there are many men who would have helped her home – not rip her clothing over her breasts and above her waist and then violate her.

So because of these young men – The Swedes- who did not turn the other way -but went to the victims aid – and chased Brock and caught him when he ran away – Brock was arrested and his family apparently chose a jury trial. So the victim over the course of a year had to relive this nightmare daily. She was made to look like a slut and a drunk in court. The defense tried to make it seem like she deserved it. Is this progress in woman’s rights? Nobody deserves it! But she endured the trial hoping justice would prevail. And it did. Brock was convicted of rape. But when prosecutors asked for a 6 year jail term (he could have been given up to 14 years) the judge ordered him to 6 months in jail of which he may have to serve only 3. It doesn’t seem right- it seems a slap on the wrist to me.

Brock’s father penned a note to the court asking the judge to make his sons sentence more lenient. The ordeal had taken a toll on Brock already – Brock wasn’t eating well. Brock seemed down. Brock might get to go to the olympics. He lost a scholarship. Don’t let this “twenty minutes of action” as stated by Brock’s father Dan, alter his life. His mother said he was trying to fit in with the other swimmers. Really? What planet is this family from? Now I see where the problem lies. And they have a daughter!

Read Dan Turner’s full statement here – if you can stomach the lack of culpability.

(If you want to read a great response to this situation from a man on Facebook read here. And another letter written to Brock’s father – Dan from an angry parent)

I often wonder what Brock thought during this trial.  Did he really believe his story? Did he really not think he was guilty of anything else but getting drunk? Or was his dad at the helm of this trial and his son along for the ride in the selfish hope that somehow all his hopes and dreams wouldn’t be squashed. Did he ever think about his victim? Did he care how she may have been effected, if she was eating, how her parents were feeling?  I would like to think somewhere inside he might feel these things and that he is only behaving in a puppet way so his lawyers will save him from losing out on life. But then I think someone who is really capable of treating a woman that way has some real issues.

I am a parent of two teen boys and a teen daughter. I hope I never to face this circumstance with any of my children. If it were one my sons I would like to think that I would want them to admit to their obvious wrong-doing- I certainly hope that I wouldn’t try to make them seem like the victim in all of it. Thats it not the type of parent I want to be. It would be gut-wrenching to watch my child’s ship sink but life has consequences. Imagine the victims family – imagine the victim- it is worse for them.  I have a daughter and I cannot imagine being that family and how they must have felt.

I keep thinking of the victim. I hate that word but I don’t know her name. In my mind her name is Brave. I have wondered if the scenario had been much different- if she had woken up in the wee hours of the morning in Brock’s dorm room- thinking- “Oh crap where the hell am I”- realizing she may have been violated and had no memory of it would she have reported it? Or would she just get herself dressed and quietly slip out of that dorm room – head hung – walk of shame – would she have just gone home and never told anyone?

Or what if she woke up behind that dumpster – hair full of pine cone needles..skirt up over her waist – exposed. No Swedes to find her. Would she have reported it? I don’t know – and she didn’t get that chance to find out. She had to face her violator in court – she wasn’t able to move on she had to face it every day. She was torn up in court. The only hope is that justice is done. And yes there was the guilty verdict but then there was the sentence which says we have to do something but we don’t want to ruin his life. No justice at all. And perhaps a long sentence would have felt hollow to her as well. She said she hoped maybe he would have admitted to something – apologize- just give her something to allow her to forgive. But he didn’t – he said his only crime was getting drunk- and thankfully the jury saw different. She wrote in her dialogue that she can’t forgive him and I so get that but I hope she does. Because even though he doesn’t deserve forgiveness the act of forgiving him will free her from being a victim for life. He cannot have the power to steal her life – he gets his back in 3-6 months- so she should get hers.

This brings me to my point (other than just being pissed about it) of why I write this. Had there had been no Swedes and she went home after she woke up behind a dumpster and cleaned herself up and went on with life could you blame her? It happens all the time – women are violated but don’t report it because of fear or guilt that it could be their fault. ” I was flirting”. “I was drunk” I wore my skirt too short” And then you have the court system that is supposed to supply justice and punishment and we know that the victim has to go through a lot of hell at trial and then the outcome may be a slap on the wrist for the perpetrator. What woman wants to drag herself through that?

This has been an issue for years. You would think that with all the advances woman have made over the years we would have some equality when it came to instances like this. Why are woman always made out to be at fault in a case like this? “She was so sexy I had to jump her and rape her – its her fault”. “She was so drunk and she was all over me – she wanted it.” “Well she is the campus Ho – so she was asking for it.” Sounds so dumb right? Yes but this is how it goes down in court and the court of public opinion even if it is more subtle than that.

Honestly, I cannot believe we still have this barbaric thinking. It was the same when I was young. I know because I was a victim (and I hate that word) of an act (was it a crime?) I never could wrap my head around that. I tried to make it nothing- and I made it my fault. But a hand over my mouth and a threat and me giving in to avoid certain consequences seems like a crime now. But then I wasn’t about to tell anyone a thing. I did tell my then boyfriend who was going to kill the guy- bc we knew him- he was my ex- boyfriend. But we both knew I would never tell anyone of authority.

Staying silent was easier.

I don’t want that for woman in 2016. But we have done nothing to encourage woman who have been harmed to stand up and come out and fight. It is too hard and to what end? A slap on the wrist of the criminal? Sometimes no conviction even – sometimes just pure humiliation on the victims part.

We need to do better than this. We need to teach our boys better, we need better justice. We need woman to matter more. Oh people say we matter but when you look all over this world you see the injustices done to them – the harm the humiliation. Cant we do better in this country?

We need to because as far as I can see right now silence is the road most travelled.

We must do better.