By now I’m sure most people have heard about the reprehensible lenient sentence given to Brock Turner, a 20-year-old Stanford University student convicted on three counts of felony assault — “the intent to commit rape of an intoxicated/ unconscious person, penetration of an intoxicated person and penetration of an unconscious person.” [Source: CNN] Judge Aaron Persky sentenced Turner to a mere 6 months in county jail.
Here Is The Powerful Letter The Stanford Victim Read Aloud To Her Attacker
Her letter — her courageous account describing her attack, as well as the aftermath and impact on her life — gives all of us who have ever experienced rape/sexual assault a voice. My heart goes out to this woman who suffered a horrible violation of not only being raped but also an injustice of the court system.
As is so often the case when stories like this appear in my news feed, I couldn’t turn a blind eye, not even with the knowledge that it would trigger my own suffering once again. Granted I’ve already been struggling for the past couple of weeks with a triggered loss of safety due to the theft I wrote about in my last post, Strangers and Thieves; but the Stanford survivor’s story gave me serious pause. The circumstances of her rape were frighteningly similar to that of my own during that first rape in ’98.
Those of us who have been victims of rape — survived such unconscionable acts of violence — suffer the consequences of our rapists’ decision for the remainder of our lives. Had someone told me that in the aftermath of the rapes I endured, maybe, just maybe, I wouldn’t have been so hard on myself every time I found myself (yet again) struggling with any of the following symptoms that so many of us are forced to cope with after such trauma:
- The intrusion of memories of: the actual rape itself; the immediate events afterward and our own reaction; the responses of those we’ve told; displaced emotion; and for those who had the courage to press charges, that ordeal as well.
- Flashbacks and panic attacks that force us back into those horrid moments, reliving the emotions and vivid recollection of such memories.
- Nightmares that wake us from the safety of our own bed, preventing us from getting restful sleep.
- The hyper-vigilance of constantly being “on guard” in an attempt to protect ourselves from further threats, including an exaggerated startle response, and the exhaustion that results from being in that constant state of anxiety and fear.
- Triggered dissociation, feeling numb, inability to experience emotion (not even joy or happiness), or feeling out of touch with reality.
- The lack of trust and problems maintaining relationships with others that lead to isolation.
- Shame, worthlessness, and loss of “self.”
Don’t get me wrong, these symptoms may lessen over time; but unfortunately, they never completely go away. And a lot of the time, at least for me, when I’m triggered it feels just like it did back then.
We live in an overly-sexualized society that permits rape culture, blames the victim, and excuses a behavior that is nothing short of murderous intent — murder of the soul. Rape should carry as harsh a penalty as that of murder, not a mere slap on the wrist like what Turner received. It truly is no wonder why so many rape victims don’t press charges, myself included, and why so many more don’t even report the rape. When society, especially that society’s judicial system, values a rapist’s “potential” more than the victim’s suffering, it fails in every sense of the word to be a civilized community.
It’s shameful that so many people still don’t comprehend the damage rape does to its victims. It saddens and angers me greatly that Judge Persky failed to recognize the seriousness of Turner’s actions. It’s even more shameful that a judge would favor a rapist convicted on three counts of felony assault over the victim who has no choice but to now “cope” with what was done to her.
It’s not just shameful. It’s WRONG!
And just a reminder for those entitled few who still haven’t gotten the message:
Sex without consent is rape.