||6th June 2016 09:03 PM
That letter makes me sick. It's a perpetuation of the unfortunate standard of rape culture in the United States these days; that because the perpetrator is young, bright, has a good future, or has a relatively rare skillset (i.e. his swimming) that it should somehow excuse him. WRONG. He raped this girl. She was blackout drunk and therefore legally incapable of giving any form of consent. I have absolutely no sympathy for Brock Turner, and indeed I would be... well, not happy, because I don't think anyone should be raped, but I would almost feel like he got his just desserts if he were raped in prison just so he would know what it feels like to have his body violated. I don't advocate anything like that happening, understand, but my visceral, instinctive reaction to hearing news like that would be, I have to admit, "well, now he knows what it feels like when someone violates you without consent." Doubt it will happen though.
Setting my disgust for Brock himself aside, I cannot believe that Brock Turner's father wrote such a sickening letter. What if it had been his daughter who got so drunk she literally passed out and had some guy on top of her humping her and sticking his dirty fingers in her vagina? It's fairly clear that man has no daughters or he would never have written such a vomit-inducing letter.
The rape victim wrote what is, in my opinion, a far more powerful letter that was read at Turner's sentencing hearing, and I have to wonder just how steeped in white privilege that judge was to not let this sway his decision to only sentence Turner to six months in prison. The entire text is on Buzzfeed
; excerpt below:
Your Honor, if it is all right, for the majority of this statement I would like to address the defendant directly.
You donít know me, but youíve been inside me, and thatís why weíre here today.
On January 17th, 2015, it was a quiet Saturday night at home... I planned to stay at home by myself, watch some TV and read, while she went to a party with her friends. Then, I decided it was my only night with her, I had nothing better to do, so why not, thereís a dumb party ten minutes from my house, I would go, dance like a fool, and embarrass my younger sister... I made silly faces, let my guard down, and drank liquor too fast not factoring in that my tolerance had significantly lowered since college.
The next thing I remember I was in a gurney in a hallway. I had dried blood and bandages on the backs of my hands and elbow. I thought maybe I had fallen and was in an admin office on campus. I was very calm and wondering where my sister was. A deputy explained I had been assaulted. I still remained calm, assured he was speaking to the wrong person. I knew no one at this party. When I was finally allowed to use the restroom, I pulled down the hospital pants they had given me, went to pull down my underwear, and felt nothing. I still remember the feeling of my hands touching my skin and grabbing nothing. I looked down and there was nothing. The thin piece of fabric, the only thing between my vagina and anything else, was missing and everything inside me was silenced. I still donít have words for that feeling. In order to keep breathing, I thought maybe the policemen used scissors to cut them off for evidence.
Then, I felt pine needles scratching the back of my neck and started pulling them out my hair. I thought maybe, the pine needles had fallen from a tree onto my head. My brain was talking my gut into not collapsing. Because my gut was saying, help me, help me.
After a few hours of this, they let me shower. I stood there examining my body beneath the stream of water and decided, I donít want my body anymore. I was terrified of it, I didnít know what had been in it, if it had been contaminated, who had touched it. I wanted to take off my body like a jacket and leave it at the hospital with everything else.
One day, I was at work, scrolling through the news on my phone, and came across an article. In it, I read and learned for the first time about how I was found unconscious, with my hair disheveled, long necklace wrapped around my neck, bra pulled out of my dress, dress pulled off over my shoulders and pulled up above my waist, that I was butt naked all the way down to my boots, legs spread apart, and had been penetrated by a foreign object by someone I did not recognize. This was how I learned what happened to me, sitting at my desk reading the news at work. I learned what happened to me the same time everyone else in the world learned what happened to me. Thatís when the pine needles in my hair made sense, they didnít fall from a tree. He had taken off my underwear, his fingers had been inside of me. I donít even know this person. I still donít know this person. When I read about me like this, I said, this canít be me, this canít be me. I could not digest or accept any of this information. I could not imagine my family having to read about this online. I kept reading. In the next paragraph, I read something that I will never forgive; I read that according to him, I liked it. I liked it. Again, I do not have words for these feelings.
And then, at the bottom of the article, after I learned about the graphic details of my own sexual assault, the article listed his swimming times. She was found breathing, unresponsive with her underwear six inches away from her bare stomach curled in fetal position. By the way, heís really good at swimming. Throw in my mile time if thatís what weíre doing. Iím good at cooking, put that in there, I think the end is where you list your extracurriculars to cancel out all the sickening things thatíve happened.
Never mentioned me voicing consent, never mentioned us even speaking, a back rub. One more time, in public news, I learned that my ass and vagina were completely exposed outside, my breasts had been groped, fingers had been jabbed inside me along with pine needles and debris, my bare skin and head had been rubbing against the ground behind a dumpster, while an erect freshman was humping my half naked, unconscious body. But I donít remember, so how do I prove I didnít like it.
I thought thereís no way this is going to trial; there were witnesses, there was dirt in my body, he ran but was caught. Heís going to settle, formally apologize, and we will both move on. Instead, I was told he hired a powerful attorney, expert witnesses, private investigators who were going to try and find details about my personal life to use against me, find loopholes in my story to invalidate me and my sister, in order to show that this sexual assault was in fact a misunderstanding. That he was going to go to any length to convince the world he had simply been confused.
I was not only told that I was assaulted, I was told that because I couldnít remember, I technically could not prove it was unwanted. And that distorted me, damaged me, almost broke me. It is the saddest type of confusion to be told I was assaulted and nearly raped, blatantly out in the open, but we donít know if it counts as assault yet. I had to fight for an entire year to make it clear that there was something wrong with this situation.
When I was told to be prepared in case we didnít win, I said, I canít prepare for that. He was guilty the minute I woke up. No one can talk me out of the hurt he caused me. Worst of all, I was warned, because he now knows you donít remember, he is going to get to write the script. He can say whatever he wants and no one can contest it. I had no power, I had no voice, I was defenseless. My memory loss would be used against me. My testimony was weak, was incomplete, and I was made to believe that perhaps, I am not enough to win this. His attorney constantly reminded the jury, the only one we can believe is Brock, because she doesnít remember. That helplessness was traumatizing.
The sexual assault had been so clear, but instead, here I was at the trial, answering questions like:
How old are you? How much do you weigh? What did you eat that day? Well what did you have for dinner? Who made dinner? Did you drink with dinner? No, not even water? When did you drink? How much did you drink? What container did you drink out of? Who gave you the drink? How much do you usually drink? Who dropped you off at this party? At what time? But where exactly? What were you wearing? Why were you going to this party? Whatí d you do when you got there? Are you sure you did that? But what time did you do that? What does this text mean? Who were you texting? When did you urinate? Where did you urinate? With whom did you urinate outside? Was your phone on silent when your sister called? Do you remember silencing it? Really because on page 53 Iíd like to point out that you said it was set to ring. Did you drink in college? You said you were a party animal? How many times did you black out? Did you party at frats? Are you serious with your boyfriend? Are you sexually active with him? When did you start dating? Would you ever cheat? Do you have a history of cheating? What do you mean when you said you wanted to reward him? Do you remember what time you woke up? Were you wearing your cardigan? What color was your cardigan? Do you remember any more from that night? No? Okay, well, weíll let Brock fill it in.
And then it came time for him to testify and I learned what it meant to be revictimized. I want to remind you, the night after it happened he said he never planned to take me back to his dorm. He said he didnít know why we were behind a dumpster. He got up to leave because he wasnít feeling well when he was suddenly chased and attacked. Then he learned I could not remember.
So one year later, as predicted, a new dialogue emerged. Brock had a strange new story, almost sounded like a poorly written young adult novel with kissing and dancing and hand holding and lovingly tumbling onto the ground, and most importantly in this new story, there was suddenly consent. One year after the incident, he remembered, oh yeah, by the way she actually said yes, to everything, so.
He said he had asked if I wanted to dance. Apparently I said yes. Heíd asked if I wanted to go to his dorm, I said yes. Then he asked if he could finger me and I said yes. Most guys donít ask, can I finger you? Usually thereís a natural progression of things, unfolding consensually, not a Q and A. But apparently I granted full permission. Heís in the clear. Even in his story, I only said a total of three words, yes yes yes, before he had me half naked on the ground. Future reference, if you are confused about whether a girl can consent, see if she can speak an entire sentence. You couldnít even do that. Just one coherent string of words. Where was the confusion? This is common sense, human decency.
Your attorney has repeatedly pointed out, well we donít know exactly when she became unconscious. And youíre right, maybe I was still fluttering my eyes and wasnít completely limp yet. That was never the point. I was too drunk to speak English, too drunk to consent way before I was on the ground. I should have never been touched in the first place. Brock stated, ďAt no time did I see that she was not responding. If at any time I thought she was not responding, I would have stopped immediately.Ē Hereís the thing; if your plan was to stop only when I became unresponsive, then you still do not understand. You didnít even stop when I was unconscious anyway! Someone else stopped you. Two guys on bikes noticed I wasnít moving in the dark and had to tackle you. How did you not notice while on top of me?
To sit under oath and inform all of us, that yes I wanted it, yes I permitted it, and that you are the true victim attacked by Swedes for reasons unknown to you is appalling, is demented, is selfish, is damaging. It is enough to be suffering. It is another thing to have someone ruthlessly working to diminish the gravity of validity of this suffering.
Lastly you said, I want to show people that one night of drinking can ruin a life.
A life, one life, yours, you forgot about mine. Let me rephrase for you, I want to show people that one night of drinking can ruin two lives. You and me. 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.
...I became closed off, angry, self deprecating, tired, irritable, empty... 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... My life was put on hold for over a year, my structure had collapsed... I canít sleep alone at night without having a light on, like a five year old, because I have nightmares of being touched where I cannot wake up, I did this thing where I waited until the sun came up and I felt safe enough to sleep. For three months, I went to bed at six oíclock in the morning...I used to pride myself on my independence, now I am afraid to go on walks in the evening, to attend social events with drinking among friends where I should be comfortable being. I have become a little barnacle always needing to be at someoneís side, to have my boyfriend standing next to me, sleeping beside me, protecting me. It is embarrassing how feeble I feel, how timidly I move through life, always guarded, ready to defend myself, ready to be angry...You have no idea how hard I have worked to rebuild parts of me that are still weak. It took me eight months to even talk about what happened... I didnít want anyoneís pity and am still learning to accept victim as part of my identity. You made my own hometown an uncomfortable place to be... You cannot give me back my sleepless nights. The way I have broken down sobbing uncontrollably if Iím watching a movie and a woman is harmed, to say it lightly, this experience has expanded my empathy for other victims. I have lost weight from stress, when people would comment I told them Iíve been running a lot lately. There are times I did not want to be touched. I have to relearn that I am not fragile, I am capable, I am wholesome, not just livid and weak.
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.
Her words have been read by over five million people. I hope even more read them and realize just how shameful it is that one in four women in the United States have been raped or sexually assaulted, and yet rape is the most underreported crime in the country strictly because of situations like this, where the victim is cruelly and unjustly revictimized during the trial, forced to relive her assault in excruciating detail, and many times made out to be a slut or worse simply because of the way she was dressed or was acting. It is absolutely no excuse on the part of the person assaulting her. What we need is to teach everyone, boys and girls, that they do not ever, under any circumstances, have the right to do something like this to another person, and that they are responsible for their own actions no matter what the other person may or may not have done or said. Brock Turner should be ashamed of himself, and his father even more for perpetuating the myth that simply because his son was badly affected by this that it means he's been punished enough. Newsflash, you SOB; YOUR SON IS A RAPIST and he deserves every ounce of punishment he gets, and more if I'm quite frank about it, since I personally believe the sentence handed down by Judge Persky was a travesty of justice, and I sincerely hope it's overturned on appeal and a stricter sentence is handed down by the appeals judge. But Brock Turner does not deserve any sympathy in this, no matter what punishment he receives, and I am utterly enraged by his father's pathetic attempt to excuse his son's actions. It is not okay, and will never BE okay, to ever insinuate that a person who raped another person has suffered enough because he was "a good kid, with a bright future ahead of him". Period, end of story, mic drop.
I'll get down off my soapbox now.