Today, a rapist will be released after 3 months in prison. 3 months. 3 fucking months. Brock Turner, found guilty on 3 felony counts, served an entirety of 3 months- one month per felony. One fucking month per felony.
This case has taken the country by storm. A culture that has generally turned their heads the other direction where rape is concerned is finally having an open discussion about the pervasiveness of sexual assault and the laxity of our laws. I am grateful for those discussion-- they are long overdue. However, as a sexual assault survivor myself, I know that these discussions come at a cost. The massive coverage of this crime must be intensely difficult for the survivor of Brock Turner's violence. She, a woman who eloquently and bravely wrote one of the most moving things I have ever read to be read at her attacker's sentencing, must be bombarded with the memories of that night of horror whenever she turns on a television or logs in to social media. I cannot imagine. Where can she or her loved ones hide from this crime? It is splashed everywhere. The fact that this coverage is changing minds and will hopefully one day change laws must be little comfort when dealing with something so horrendous and so fresh.
Those of us who were not victims of Brock Turner, but of other monsters, are feeling the pain of this too. With each high-profile news coverage of a new rape victim, we are flooded with memories of our own assault. It feels as though we are being assaulted again.
We are assaulted again when the press and people seem to blame the survivor and ask asinine questions such as-
What was she wearing?
Had she/he been drinking?
Did he/she lead on her attacker?
Is she/he sure that they said know?
Did they fight their attacker?
None of the answers to this question matter. Not one iota. So, stop fucking asking them.
We are assaulted again every time that a case never goes to trial and the attacker goes completely free.
We are assaulted again every time that the sentence for the rapist is a matter of days or months for a crime that has given us a life sentence.
We are assaulted again when people make public excuses for the attacker and care more about the attacker's loss of appetite(as Brock Turner's father was) than the hell that the survivor is going through.
We are assaulted again when we see the attackers smiling and laughing when they are let out of jail.
We are assaulted again when the attacker goes back to his/her normal life and we feel trapped inside a hell and know that we will never be the same.
According to RAINN, every 109 seconds(yes, SECONDS) an American is sexually assaulted. Every 8 minutes, that victim is a child. We have an epidemic of sexual assaults. An epidemic of survivors across this country. We also have an epidemic of apathy for those survivors and a culture of forgiveness for the attackers.
We must do better.
We have an entire nation of men and women that are survivors of sexual assault. We collectively hurt and grieve for each new survivor. We collectively hurt and grieve for every injustice- when a rapist goes free or serves little time. We are serving a life sentence for something that was not our fault and they, the attackers, get off so much more easily.
I stand as a survivor and ask for tougher laws against attackers. I implore you to remember that sexual assault is always a violent crime-- even if the survivor knew their attacker or came away with few physical injuries. It is something that will haunt the survivor every day for the rest of their lives.
I am standing strong and asking for change in the way we view sexual assault and treat the attackers. I ask you, survivor or not, to stand beside me.
If you have not read the survivor's statement from the Brock Turner rape case, it is moving and gritty and worth reading. You can find it here. (trigger warning for survivors- it is brutally honest)
If you are have been the victim of a sexual assault, you can go here for resources and can talk online or via phone with a RAINN staff member. You are not alone and I swear to you that it will get better. I'm so very sorry.