By now, you’ve probably heard about the former Stanford student, Brock Turner, who was recently convicted of raping an unconscious woman behind a dumpster after a frat party and was sentenced to a measly six months in jail (which he’s going to appeal). The judge, a Stanford alum, said he didn’t want to give him more than six months, which is significantly less severe than the minimum prison time of two years prescribed by state law for his felony offenses, because it would have a “severe impact” on the rapist. If that doesn’t make you want to scream, consider the argument from the rapist’s father that his son be given leniency because he’s already paid a steep price “for 20 minutes of action.” There’s a perfect summation of rape culture right there.
In response to all of this, the victim delivered a heart-wrenching statement to the rapist in court explaining in excruciating detail the “severe impact” his actions have had and will have on her (and her loved ones) for the rest of her life. The entire statement, which the victim shared with Buzzfeed, should be required reading for every high school and college student across the country. Here is an excerpt:
You are the cause, I am the effect. You have dragged me through this hell with you, dipped me back into that night again and again. You knocked down both our towers, I collapsed at the same time you did. If you think I was spared, came out unscathed, that today I ride off into sunset, while you suffer the greatest blow, you are mistaken. Nobody wins. We have all been devastated, we have all been trying to find some meaning in all of this suffering. Your damage was concrete; stripped of titles, degrees, enrollment. My damage was internal, unseen, I carry it with me. You took away my worth, my privacy, my energy, my time, my safety, my intimacy, my confidence, my own voice, until today.
See one thing we have in common is that we were both unable to get up in the morning. I am no stranger to suffering. You made me a victim. In newspapers my name was “unconscious intoxicated woman”, ten syllables, and nothing more than that. For a while, I believed that that was all I was. I had to force myself to relearn my real name, my identity. To relearn that this is not all that I am. That I am not just a drunk victim at a frat party found behind a dumpster, while you are the All American swimmer at a top university, innocent until proven guilty, with so much at stake. I am a human being who has been irreversibly hurt, my life was put on hold for over a year, waiting to figure out if I was worth something.
My independence, natural joy, gentleness, and steady lifestyle I had been enjoying became distorted beyond recognition. I became closed off, angry, self-deprecating, tired, irritable, empty. The isolation at times was unbearable. You cannot give me back the life I had before that night either. While you worry about your shattered reputation, I refrigerated spoons every night so when I woke up, and my eyes were puffy from crying, I would hold the spoons to my eyes to lessen the swelling so that I could see. I showed up an hour late to work every morning, excused myself to cry in the stairwells, I can tell you all the best places in that building to cry where no one can hear you. The pain became so bad that I had to explain the private details to my boss to let her know why I was leaving. I needed time because continuing day to day was not possible. I used my savings to go as far away as I could possibly be. I did not return to work full time as I knew I’d have to take weeks off in the future for the hearing and trial that were constantly being rescheduled. My life was put on hold for over a year, my structure had collapsed.
You should have never done this to me. Secondly, you should have never made me fight so long to tell you, you should have never done this to me. But here we are. The damage is done, no one can undo it. And now we both have a choice. We can let this destroy us, I can remain angry and hurt and you can be in denial, or we can face it head on, I accept the pain, you accept the punishment, and we move on.
Your life is not over, you have decades of years ahead to rewrite your story. The world is huge, it is so much bigger than Palo Alto and Stanford, and you will make a space for yourself in it where you can be useful and happy. But right now, you do not get to shrug your shoulders and be confused anymore. You do not get to pretend that there were no red flags. You have been convicted of violating me, intentionally, forcibly, sexually, with malicious intent, and all you can admit to is consuming alcohol. Do not talk about the sad way your life was upturned because alcohol made you do bad things. Figure out how to take responsibility for your own conduct.
And finally, to girls everywhere, I am with you. On nights when you feel alone, I am with you. When people doubt you or dismiss you, I am with you. I fought everyday for you. So never stop fighting, I believe you. As the author Anne Lamott once wrote, “Lighthouses don’t go running all over an island looking for boats to save; they just stand there shining.” Although I can’t save every boat, I hope that by speaking today, you absorbed a small amount of light, a small knowing that you can’t be silenced, a small satisfaction that justice was served, a small assurance that we are getting somewhere, and a big, big knowing that you are important, unquestionably, you are untouchable, you are beautiful, you are to be valued, respected, undeniably, every minute of every day, you are powerful and nobody can take that away from you. To girls everywhere, I am with you. Thank you.
Sign the Petition to Remove Judge Aaron Persky from the Bench For Decision in Brock Turner rape case
Juliecatharine June 8, 2016, 12:24 pm
Everyone, everywhere should read this. I can’t say anymore that would even make sense. Every time I read about this story I am filled with a sickening rage. Fuck you rapists, fuck you you enabling pathetic excuse for a judge.
Juliecatharine June 8, 2016, 12:25 pm
Oh and a huge fuck you to Brock’s father.
shrinkingmrssmith1982 June 8, 2016, 12:37 pm
I agree wholeheartedly. Everything about this story makes me so angry. What makes me even angrier is the fact that I can see my own father defending my brother (the only boy) in the same way if he was the one in this situation. I grew up in a town where the good old boys and their sons could get away with literally everything, but their sisters were shunned for any wrong doing (even if all they did wrong was move out of the small minded town). The judge should be removed from his seat, and everyone involved in this kids defense should be in prison getting manhandled by Bubba so he can have his “20 minutes of action”.
Juliecatharine June 8, 2016, 12:59 pm
Ugh this brings me right back to when I watched Thelma and Louise for the first time and after the attempted rape scene my brother said something along the lines of ‘what did she expect to happen, she was all over him’. My mother ripped him a new one but I’ve never forgotten what he said.
Dear Wendy June 8, 2016, 12:45 pm
I’ve been seeing comments in various articles citing that Brock Turner’s dad, who said the judge should be lenient with his son because he only got 20 minutes of action and doesn’t like eating steaks anymore, has a daughter and should, therefore, understand the gravity of the rape. But I don’t know why someone needs a daughter (or sister or mother or wife or female friend) to have some fucking human decency. That argument makes so damn mad every time I hear it, like a women only have worth when they’re someone you’re close.
Juliecatharine June 8, 2016, 1:04 pm
There was a really interesting article on bbc last week about the woman in the late 80s/early 90s who really brought ‘date rape’ to the forefront. She was raped by a man who she invited back to her room after a date-she told her father (a fucking FBI agent!!) what happened and he said ‘it wouldn’t have happened if you hadn’t invited him to your room’ and hung up on her. Sometimes I really really can’t stand how far we still have to go before men (and women sadly) as a group actually realize rapists are responsible for rape.
blink14 June 8, 2016, 1:13 pm
I think what a lot of people are missing is that this is his son. Right or wrong, he’s going with a natural instinct to defend him and worry about him. I can’t fault the guy for having this reaction while trying to deal with the situation as a parent. And it is something that is going to cause turmoil and stress on their family permanently, which is sad for all of his relatives, including his parents.
I don’t think his comments about the sentencing are right, but yea, I can picture how devastating this would be to have your child work for something their whole life, presumably not show this type of violent and horrible behavior, and then ruin the victim’s life, their family’s lives, and their own life by doing something so terrible. Everyone around him is going to be stained by this.
Juliecatharine June 8, 2016, 1:27 pm
Sorry blink; there’s a pretty goddamn big difference between standing up for your kids and dismissing RAPE as ’20 minutes of action’. That’s despicable.
blink14 June 8, 2016, 2:05 pm
I didn’t say I agree with what he wrote, but he is, as I said, right or wrong, trying to defend him, as a parent.
Juliecatharine June 8, 2016, 2:24 pm
You may not agree but you excuse him. There is zero excuse for his statements. None.
blink14 June 8, 2016, 2:38 pm
and unfortunately, he’s entitled to voicing his opinion, right or wrong, just as everyone else is.
Addie Pray June 8, 2016, 3:19 pm
I understand what Blink is saying but here’s the distinction: I understand a parent defending his son no matter what in these two scenarios: (1) he sides with his son in a he-said-she-said dispute (which is not what happened here); I get that a parent will want to believe his son but here all evidence, including eyewitnesses, point to RAPE; and (2) advocating a for a lighter sentence (no one wants to see their son in jail!) – so a parent may plead with the judge for a lighter sentence, pointing out all the good he’ll do outside of jail, pointing out how remorseful he is, etc. But that’s not what the father did. He tried to downplay RAPE and cast his son as the victim. What the fuck? No, I don’t think I would ever do that. I can honestly say, I know, if put in a similar situation, I would NOT DO THAT. But, yes, I could see myself believing my son absent evidence proving otherwise, and I could see myself advocating for a lighter sentence b/c of remorse – but not because my son is the victim! (I mean, frankly, I am not a big advocate of excessive jail time; but I am an advocate of equality, and what this white kid got is NOT equal to what black, less privileged kids get for far lesser crimes.)
Dear Wendy June 8, 2016, 3:37 pm
Juliecatharine June 8, 2016, 4:17 pm
Very true Addie, that’s the other gross injustice in this case. Under similar circumstances a minority would have been doing hard time (unless of course he played football in which case all bets are off). Ugh I need tequila.
ktfran June 8, 2016, 4:30 pm
Ugh. Don’t even get me started on the fact that they didn’t release his mugshot until after the trial and sentencing. Instead, they only showed a yearbook photo or some such nonsense. If this person were black or poor, I promise they would have shown the mugshot.
Dear Wendy June 8, 2016, 1:27 pm
Obviously, I have a son and I can’t imagine what it would feel like to find out he raped someone, but I have experienced what it feels like to watch him, as a toddler, bite other kids on the playground and I was horrified and ashamed and apologized profusely to the other kids and parents/ babysitters. And that was for behavior that is totally normal and understandable. A toddler doesn’t understand personal boundaries, cause and effect, and right from wrong. I would like to think if my grown son acted in such a malicious and shameful way, my “natural instinct” would be to feel horrified and ashamed, as I have been on occasions when my son physically hurt someone else. The father here is disgusting. No wonder the kid grew up to be a violent criminal.
Juliecatharine June 8, 2016, 1:30 pm
ktfran June 8, 2016, 1:43 pm
This! I get what you’re saying Blink, I do. BUT ( I capitalized because it’s a big fucking but) the father’s letter was pure crap. Not once did he apologize to the victim or show remorse for his son’s despicable behavior. Instead, he talked about his son doesn’t enjoy eating steak anymore, god forbid! And how his entire life shouldn’t be ruined for “20 minutes of action.” Well, the victim’s life is ruined forever.
To top it off, the son shows no remorse either. Zero. So, neither the father or son think there was any wrongdoing. It’s disgusting. The only thing they think was done wrong was that the son had too much to drink. What the fuck? Take some responsibility for your poor choices. Seriously.
blink14 June 8, 2016, 2:23 pm
You are 100% correct, and I’m not defending or agreeing to his letter in any way. I just am pointing out that he is trying to protect his son. As I said in my comment above back to Wendy, I can think of many parents of old classmates who would perhaps write something similar. In fact I do know parents of classmates who used money to cover up things that their kids did at school. Maybe because I went to school with a lot of very wealthy people, I’ve been exposed more to parents defending their kids in not very normal ways. Not that money means you’re a bad parent, but it certainly is a lot easier to smooth things over with a large donation.
ktfran June 8, 2016, 2:48 pm
And I would find any one of those parents poor excuses for human beings. Asshole parents who try to cover up crimes or don’t make their offspring accountable raise asshole kids. The best thing this father could do for his son is make him own up to his mistakes instead of excusing them because he was intoxicated.
blink14 June 8, 2016, 2:20 pm
I totally agree with what you are saying, but on the flip side, no one knows how they will react when their child is in a terrible situation like this one. You think you know how you might react, but you never really know until it happens. Maybe the kid acted up as a teenager and was never disciplined properly or his parents covered things up. Maybe his father is trying to in some weird way downplay it to lessen the impact on his own career. I don’t agree with what he said, but I do see a parent trying to protect their child. I can certainly see quite a few parents of classmates over the years writing something similar.
Dear Wendy June 8, 2016, 2:38 pm
I don’t really buy the argument that people don’t know how they would react in a situation until they’re in it. Maybe that’s true to an extent, but I think it’s safe to say that I know how I would NOT react in certain situations, and I am 100% certain, without a shadow of a doubt, that if a child of mine committed a violent crime in which the evidence was clear and substantial, I would not argue for leniency based on a loss of appetite or athleticism or the duration of the crime. And I am 100% certain I would feel incredible remorse and shame and would express that. There are many, many instances in our recent history when parents of young criminals have loved and supported their kids while expressing remorse and shame and outrage (think of any number of the deranged gunmen in the mass shootings that have become so common). Shame and embarrassment and regret and blaming one’s self are normal reactions from parents whose kids have acted in violent, horrible ways. This father’s reaction is psychotic.
blink14 June 8, 2016, 2:52 pm
I completely do not agree with his statement and I definitely think the sentencing is far too light. My point is that he’s reacting as this guy’s parent. I can relate from personal experience that people can find any justification or a way to spin a really bad situation to make it easier to live with. I am going through a very dark, disturbing and violent family situation right now, and the justifications I’m hearing from family members seem completely nuts to me, but its the only way they can deal with it. Trust me when I say that the stuff coming to the surface now are absolutely horrifying and violent examples of whats gone on between certain family members, and the cover ups and ways of manipulating it to make things look better are extremely abnormal. And I think that’s how this guy is dealing with what his son did, while trying to defend his child.
Dear Wendy June 8, 2016, 3:01 pm
Oof, I’m sorry to hear about your family situation. Hope you’re able to find some peace in it.
blink14 June 8, 2016, 4:56 pm
Thank You. 🙂 Its going to be a very long process. Fortunately I was not the direct victim of the abuse, but one of my parents was, and while I knew generally what had gone in the past, I’m just learning the extent of it after the abuser committed suicide recently. Its been a mind f*ck, to say the least.
Juliecatharine June 8, 2016, 6:50 pm
Yeesh, Blink that is awful. Peace and healing to you and your family.
keyblade June 8, 2016, 7:13 pm
“Maybe the kid acted up as a teenager and was never disciplined properly or his parents covered things up. Maybe his father is trying to in some weird way downplay it to lessen the impact on his own career.”
I doubt it. This man (Brock Turner) was raised in the wealthiest suburb of his hometown city of Dayton Ohio. It is a Very small suburb where the neighbors know each other. So much so that the family started a fund to raise money for his defense (despite the rumors they live in a house valued around 350,000 dollars and where able to pay the 40% of Stanford tuition left after Brock’s scholarship.) and actually had donors.
Brock attended Oakwood schools, one of the very best school systems in the entire state. The Turner family had 39 letters of support written about Brock’s character. This included a letter from the counselor at the locally prestigious Oakwood High School as well as a local judge.
What really gets me is that Brock Turner is from so much intellectual and monetary privilege that I don’t believe for a moment his actions were a result of naïve kid from rural Ohio. He paints himself as some wayward kid that knew nothin’ about the big, bad world of parties and alcohol.
The kids that go to this school are notoriously sophisticated. I think I read a stat that said up to 40% qualify as gifted. It may not be California but drug and alcohol culture are alive and well in this small pocket. Ohio has five major highways and has easy access to the Canadian border. For this reason, drug trafficking is high in the area. (This link is about Ohio’s human trafficking problem but it applies to drugs as well)
There is most certainly privilege at play. I think about if there hadn’t been two bikers who just happened to be right there. Its likely nobody would ever know. Perhaps not even the victim would have known the full extent of what happened. I wonder if Brock would have done it, again. I wonder if he has done it before. I wonder how many men confuse rape with post-sex regret, with post alcohol-regret.
And I’m just sad. I’m sad that this happens all of the time. I’m sad that perhaps most of time, there are no legal consequences to the perpetrator. I wish throwing the book at someone was the answer. The prison system seems broken. People get sent in there and raped. And people, even good people, cheer. What does that say about all of us and our capacity to inflict our own justice on others? The prisons are so big the system seems unsustainable. I don’t understand it all. It seems they are more and more privatized. The point is, not much change for the better seems to happen in there. I wish prisoners could atone in a way that brought some kind of decency back into society.
I don’t know what to think of this judge. I’m just glad Brock got some jail time. I’m glad his Olympic dreams are revoked. I’m glad the victim’s voice was louder than his legal team, if only in public opinion. All in all, at least there was consequence. Not enough, but it existed and will continue to exist for Brock Turner and his choice to rape someone. He didn’t get away with being “American Pie”.
Instead I’ll keep focusing on bigger issues, problems, injustices, though it depresses me to do so.
va-in-ny June 8, 2016, 1:37 pm
I understand what you’re saying, and in any other circumstances, I would agree with you. Let’s say that this man’s son was charged with rape after this girl reported a sexual encounter that she didn’t remember. Let’s pretend that they were both drunk, went back to his dorm, had sex, and neither remembered. Perhaps in that case, I would feel bad for the “rapist” or the ruined lives of the family.
But, that didn’t happen. This man didn’t get caught up in a “couldn’t consent because they were both drunk” situation. This man was caught raping an unconscious woman. AN UNCONSCIOUS WOMAN. He was caught behind a dumpster defiling her lifeless body. He tried to escape the witnesses and had to be chased and tackled – the parent’s argument of “Hasn’t he suffered enough? Hasn’t he paid his debt to society? He can’t even eat steak! He’s miserable! Isn’t that enough!?” after a year long trial process and a measly 3 months in jail is abhorrent.
Moneypenny June 8, 2016, 1:59 pm
I agree- I do see what Blink is saying, but I think given the circumstances this is much different. If I were a parent, the first thing I would want to do is come to the defense of my child. But if my child committed such a crime, he would ultimately need to take responsibility for himself and quite frankly, I’d be disgusted by his actions although it would probably still break my heart.
blink14 June 8, 2016, 2:08 pm
Again, as I said above, I don’t agree with what he said, but I don’t think any of us can say what we would do in this father’s shoes. Or any violent criminals’ parents. I certainly think his son should be sentenced far more harshly.
EB June 8, 2016, 2:45 pm
You can’t fault him? So being a parent gives him a free pass to spew even more misogyny and victim-blaming rhetoric? His words are vile and indefensible. If we as a society ever want to start dismantling this rampant rape culture, we need to stop making excuses for rapists and those who enable and excuse their crimes. What he said was beyond offensive and he should be definitely called out and condemned for it.
Skyblossom June 8, 2016, 5:43 pm
An important part of parenting is holding your kids accountable for their actions. This dad has probably never done that and so the kid has not experienced appropriate limits on his behavior and hasn’t learned appropriate self-conduct or self-control. Now he’s in a bind that his dad can’t get him out of and neither he or his dad think it is fair that he is held responsible for his own actions. A parent who always defends their kid, regardless of behavior, is setting their kid up to be a failed adult. If you love your child you make sure they behave and you make sure they think about others and you make sure there are appropriate consequences when they don’t treat others appropriately.
saneinca June 9, 2016, 12:38 am
+1. I feel exactly the same way.
keyblade June 9, 2016, 10:56 am
I completely agree. If I were a parent in this situation I would be grieving and trying to figure out where I failed. I wouldn’t be contacting all of my rich friends about saving my poor, twenty-year-old “boy” from going to prison. I wouldn’t be saddened that he was too depressed to enjoy a steak. I wouldn’t be sad that he was changing. I would assume change was necessary and healthy and the only way for him to make any good place for himself in the world.
I’m angry. I’m angry at this Oak wood community who this family is so much a part of. I’m angry that denial and insulation seem to be the go to response. This parent knows that his son was found thrusting himself on top of an unconscious woman (who had a boyfriend and who witnesses describe as rebuffing his son earlier). He knows that his son had this unconscious woman behind a dumpster and was inserting foreign objects into her. He knows and anyone of those thirty-nine letter writers could have known, too, if they were interested. Instead they wrote the judge and the parole board asking for leniency and no jail time. An actual former prosecutor-turned-judge asked the parole board and the judged not to sentence Brock to prison.
It isn’t just one judge. It is a whole community of people who are defending this man and his parents. We all know someone who has done something bad. Most of us want justice and goodness to abound. But some people pick sides and loyalty comes first. Its a contest to be won, rather than an act of aggression and tragedy to be made right. Some people can only see what’s at stake in there own small piece of the world and won’t see it larger than that. They don’t care if their kids value any greater vision or scheme more than themselves.
Moneypenny June 8, 2016, 1:52 pm
I remember reading about this when it happened, and seeing how the consequences don’t fit the crime is really disheartening and makes me so disappointed and angry. Just reading comments on other news articles (like the Washington Post), where people are justifying his actions because he was drunk, if she gave consent before she passed out its not his fault, etc, is disgusting. If he didn’t know what he was doing, then why did he run? And it would be one thing if he actually took responsibility for his actions and, at the very least, apologized to the victim. Instead he hasn’t apologized, and, from what I have read, is basically ignoring the fact that he was caught red handed, tried, and convicted of a felony. Instead he will be talking to high schoolers about the dangers of drinking too much. WTF. The only thing I can feel good about is- this guy, along with his father and the judge, are being absolutely pilloried in the media (and I hope they continue to do so), Stanford has banned him from campus, and USA Swimming wants nothing to do with him. Fuck this guy and his twisted father.
Moneypenny June 8, 2016, 1:55 pm
ALSO: Regarding the judge: I was listening to NPR and they were talking to a journalist who attended the sentencing hearing. She said that the hearing before this one was regarding a domestic violence case. The same judge presided on it. The woman/victim in the case was almost killed. And yet, her husband got off with a short sentence (a few days in jail) and the journalist noted that the judge was concerned about the guy being able to make it to work.
Juliecatharine June 8, 2016, 2:10 pm
Why am I not surprised? I’m going for a walk before my head explodes.
Moneypenny June 8, 2016, 4:16 pm
I’ll come with you!
honeybeenicki June 8, 2016, 2:42 pm
Oh fucking hell. Just when I thought I couldn’t get any angrier.
bondgirl June 9, 2016, 6:29 am
Lemme guess, the husband is a Stanford alum too?!
f*cking prick. I hope the online petitions to get him tossed from his position end up working. You have to now wonder now how he sentences a woman or minority in his court. It gets my mind going anyway….does he go easy on them too, or does he throw the book at them?
Moneypenny June 8, 2016, 4:27 pm
Not to make people more angry but… here’s kind of an update. (Ugh…)
Juliecatharine June 8, 2016, 6:58 pm
Double ugh but one of the comments was fucking golden: “The heartbreak of affluenza. White douches matter”. Reading that almost helped.
Addie Pray June 9, 2016, 9:10 am
I’d be interested to know about this judge’s history on the bench. Does he give light sentences to everyone? To just white people? To just men? To just men who rape/attack women? To wealthy people? I bet there’s a pattern that may be relevant to note. How can we find it? I’m going to see if I can find out on Westlaw.
veritek33 June 9, 2016, 9:38 am
I think I read that he was a former Stanford athlete himself and that prior to sentencing this (poor excuse for a ) man, he also sentenced a domestic violence case as lightly as possible because the man “had such a bright future ahead of him.”
I don’t remember the article or I’d attach the link.
Moneypenny June 9, 2016, 12:30 pm
I noted that above- the exact question AP asks was asked on NPR. I haven’t seen another article about it but it may be out there too!
Moneypenny June 9, 2016, 12:31 pm
…And he’s getting released 2 months early, and lied about not having partied/drunk alcohol/done drugs before! What a winner. (Ugh)
bondgirl June 9, 2016, 1:38 pm
While we all continue to sharpen our pitchforks for these 3 asshole men, the victim has gotten some recognition from the White House…..via Joe Biden.
Juliecatharine June 10, 2016, 7:12 pm
A little comeuppance for the young lady who wrote a repugnant letter to the judge on behalf of Brock; bet she never saw this coming:
keyblade June 10, 2016, 10:45 pm
If you check out her Facebook page comments from her friends it’s obvious she’s just trying to save the band.