I just read the impact statement from the Stanford Survivor. I refuse to call her a victim, because that is all that she has been for the last year and a half. Brock Turner made her a victim when he viciously assaulted and raped her. Judge Aaron Persky victimized her for a second time with the disgraceful and pathetic slap on the wrist he gave Brock Turner at sentencing. In a week or two, no one will remember their names; someone else will grab headlines and top shares and trends lists on social media. But the Stanford Survivor’s statement? That is going to stick with people for a long, long time.
If you haven’t read it, please read it here. Let her voice and her words live on and empower more women and girls to not give up when something horrible happens to them. Let her statement sink into your grey matter and latch on. Let her graphic and brutal honesty about the aftermath of rape haunt you. Because that is the only way we can stand up to the continual trend of shaming and blaming the victim, while slapping the wrist of the rapist. Share her statement too, so that every judge in American thinks twice the next time a rape victim demands justice.
I’ve spent all day thinking about this woman, whom I don’t even know. I’ve spent all day thinking about writing this post because I was just floored when I read about the pathetic excuse for punishment Judge Persky handed Brock Turner. I was angry and outraged, and I wanted to vent about the injustice. I spent my drive home tonight thinking about what I was going to write. I read the Dan Turner statement about his son, and I could feel the bile and rage rising in me like lava in a volcano ready to explode. And then I read her statement. The Stanford Survivor.
My mind went silent. My body went silent. The raw honesty and brutal details she shared with the Court, with the world! The strength it must have taken to stand in that courtroom and read those words. . . I was breathless. I was speechless. I thought, there is nothing I can say that can compare, there is nothing I can add to what she has shared with us all. I started to think that a blog post was just pointless. Then I went on Facebook.
A friend from high school had shared a link about the travesty of the sentence in this case, and I had commented that I was disgusted and tired of this happening again and again. Another comment had been posted so I read it. I was quite taken aback by the person’s statement. It wasn’t mean or hateful. The poster stated that because women have spent decades fighting for equality, it should include taking responsibility for getting so drunk you pass out and get raped. She, yes she, didn’t think the Survivor deserved it, but that she shared responsibility with her rapist for “creating this terrible situation.”
I don’t believe in online fighting; I don’t agree with calling names or hurling insults when someone states something with which I disagree. I respectfully disagreed with her and shared my experience. My rape. And I realized that I did have something to say, something to add to the Stanford Survivor’s story. My story.
It’s taken me 32 years to admit to myself I was raped. The first couple of years I don’t even think I realized that what happened to me was wrong. Then the term “date rape” was introduced to society, and I could relate to that term. It wasn’t some violent assault from a stranger grabbing me in a dark alley. It was a guy I had met early that night at the party. It was 1988 and rape was something that happened when you were alone and unable to protect yourself. I was in a room full of people! So when “date rape” came into being, I realized that what had happened to me was an assault, it was rape.
I told myself it had happened because I had gotten so drunk I couldn’t stop it. I had to take responsibility for getting so intoxicated I had no control over my actions or over what could happen to me. What he did was wrong, but if I hadn’t gotten so drunk I would have told him no. For years I have carried that night with me, buried under many, many years of much better memories. I accepted it as something that happened to me when I was a stupid and reckless teenager. But the Stanford Survivor’s statement made me face the reality of what had happened to me. It empowered me to face it and accept the reality. I too am a rape survivor.
Unlike the Stanford Survivor, I remember my attack. I was aware of what was happening to me, but I had reached the level of drunk that I couldn’t speak or move. I could only observe what was happening to me like some sort of spectator. I’m so ashamed of that fact. I’m so ashamed to admit I was so stupid and so careless. I’m so ashamed of the memories of that night that flicker through my head as I type these words. I’m angry at myself for taking 32 years to admit to myself that I was indeed raped. I’m angry that I don’t even remember what he looked like or what his name was, but I still remember what he did to me. And I’m angry for being ashamed.
I was careless and reckless for getting that drunk. But that doesn’t excuse or justify his decision to look at my passed out body as an opportunity waiting to be had. He was drunk too, but his careless and reckless decision made him a rapist. Just like Brock Turner, he made a choice to be a rapist. It doesn’t matter if it was 20 minutes or 5; it doesn’t matter how drunk he was, he was still conscious. The moment he acted on his thoughts, whatever good he had done with his life up until that moment, whatever potential for future good he had, it was all wiped out.
Unlike Brock Turner, my rapist got away with his actions. Even if I had immediately realized I had been raped, I don’t think the laws existed in 1988 to convict him. Even though the judge failed in his duty with handing out such a despicable sentence, the Stanford Survivor did get 12 jurors to convict him. And he will forever carry that with him as a registered sex offender. But a 6 month sentence doesn’t even come close to justice. She has already served a year and half of her life sentence! Because that is what surviving rape is, it’s a life sentence. I pray that sooner rather than later, she is able to pardon and parole herself and feel whole again. I pray that she is able to feel strong again. I pray that someday she is able to look back and see January 17th, 2015 as a memory buried under many, many other happier memories.
Unlike the Stanford Survivor, I did not have to endure the year and a half of brutal hell she has endured. I did not have to sit in a courtroom and have the defendant’s attorney verbally and emotionally brutalize me. I cannot even imagine what that has done to her. I am so very proud of her for enduring that and still being able to breath. I don’t know her and in all probability, I will never meet her; but I am grateful for her strength and her words. I am grateful she has shared her story with all of us. I am grateful and amazed at her ability to even contemplate Brock Turner, at some future date, being able to make himself a better human being. I’m not sure I could have done the same.
Please read her statement. Forget Brock Turner. Forget who he was before he chose to become a rapist. Remember her, the Stanford Survivor. Remember her words and her strength. Share her words and let them live on, long after the headlines have changed.