“This is a steep price to pay for 20 minutes of action out of his 20 plus years of life.”
Last January, Stanford swimmer, Brock Allen Turner, was seen raping an unconscious woman behind a dumpster on campus.
Astoundingly, at the sentencing hearing this Thursday, Turner was given just six months of jail time for his shocking crime, with the judge determining a longer sentence would have too much of a “severe impact” on the rising athletic star, in a verdict eerily similar to the one that saw an Oklahoma man walk free after forcing an unconscious 16 year-old to perform oral sex on him.
Turner’s victim, a now 23 year-old woman, delivered a moving statement describing the “severe impact” the assault had on her at the hearing.
“On that morning, all that I was told was that I had been found behind a dumpster, potentially penetrated by a stranger, and that I should get retested for HIV because results don’t always show up immediately,” the victim told the court.
“My boyfriend did not know what happened, but called that day and said, “I was really worried about you last night, you scared me, did you make it home okay?” …I was not ready to tell my boyfriend or parents that actually, I may have been raped behind a dumpster, but I don’t know by who or when or how. If I told them, I would see the fear on their faces, and mine would multiply by tenfold, so instead I pretended the whole thing wasn’t real. I tried to push it out of my mind, but it was so heavy I didn’t talk, I didn’t eat, I didn’t sleep, I didn’t interact with anyone. After work, I would drive to a secluded place to scream. I didn’t talk, I didn’t eat, I didn’t sleep, I didn’t interact with anyone, and I became isolated from the ones I loved most.”
The statement continued, “My family had to see pictures of my head strapped to a gurney full of pine needles, of my body in the dirt with my eyes closed, hair messed up, limbs bent, and dress hiked up. And even after that, my family had to listen to your attorney say the pictures were after the fact, we can dismiss them. To say, yes her nurse confirmed there was redness and abrasions inside her, significant trauma to her genitalia.”
However, in a shocking turn of events this week, Turner’s father released a counter statement to the victim, insisting his son’s punishment was unfair.
“As it stands now, Brock’s life has been deeply altered,” the father’s statement read.
“He will never be his happy-go-lucky self, with that easygoing personality and welcoming smile… These verdicts have broken and shattered him and our family in so many ways. His life will never be the one that he dreamed and worked so hard to achieve. This is a steep price to pay for 20 minutes of action out of his 20 plus years of life.”
Turner’s father’s statement is disturbingly similar to his own closing statements following his sentencing, in which the convicted sex offender claimed his assault was consensual and that alcohol was to blame for the situation.
Not only is Turner’s lenient sentence a slap in the face to his victim and sexual assault victims everywhere, but the attitudes of both Turner and his father highlight a much more insidious and deeply troubling issue; the fact that our modern rape culture facilitates young men to grow up believing sexual assault is merely getting some “action”, or that factors like alcohol can be used to excuse acts of violence against women.
Is it any wonder so many grown adult men today still have no idea of what sexual consent actually means?
When we let men like Brock Turner cop token sentences, slap them on the wrist and tell them their crimes are reduced to “20 minutes of action”, we are sending a very problematic message to men everywhere. One that reinforces victim blaming. One that says sexual assault is determined by factors such as how flirtatious, inebriated or sexily a woman is dressed. One that is merely a factor of “boys being boys”, when the reality is, unlike a slap on the wrist, the impact of sexual assault is one these victims must carry with them forever.
Image via stanfordphoto.com.
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Nadia is a journalist, media commentator and editor with a penchant for hoarding makeup and an opinion on just about everything. Her work has been published in The Washington Post, Huffington Post, Thought Catalog, Cosmopolitan, and many more. She's a passionate advocate for destroying mental health stigma and sexually empowering women, and has absolutely no concept of TMI. Follow Nadia on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.