“The newspaper reported that when handing down Turner’s sentence, the judge in the case said he understood the ‘devastation’ the victim suffered, but he feared imprisonment would have a ‘severe’ impact on Turner.” –The Washington Post
I’ve written about it before and I know it will continue to be a topic of news, media, blogs, memoirs, rallies, politics and more for years to come. I know rape will be a problem for generations and I know there are still countless untold stories that will remain untold. I know this for certain because of cases like the one referred to in the quote above.
Brock Allen Turner is a star swimmer at Stanford University, an all-American athlete at his high school, and a rapist.
Emily Doe, the pseudonym given to the 23-yr-old college student, recounted for the court what happened to her as a result of Mr. Turner’s actions. She recalled waking up the morning of the Jan. 18th 2015 assault, in a hospital in San Jose with no memory of what had happened, the invasive exam she underwent to collect evidence, and the aftermath that was left from Turner’s choices.
“I don’t want my body anymore,” she remembered saying. “I wanted to take off my body like a jacket and leave it at the hospital with everything else.”
Too often we hear of how the perpetrator’s life is forever changed because of their stupidity. It is no different in the case of Emily Doe. But right there in the courtroom, Doe turned Turner’s words back on him: “I want to show people that one night of drinking can ruin a life,” Turner said. To that Doe had the response that every individual who has experienced this kind of trauma should remember.
“Ruin a life, one life, yours — you forgot about mine,” she said in court. “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.”
Emily Doe’s words are powerful but yet, it seems they were still ignored. The fact that Turner has only been sentenced to six months of prison with the possibility of early release is abominable and the excuse behind it even worse. “Brock’s life has been deeply altered,” wrote Brock’s father in a letter asking for leniency for his son. His “happy-go-lucky” attitude is gone and “his every waking minute is consumed with worry.”
Well I apologize if Brock’s life is not quite the same as it was before he made the choice to rape an unconscious girl and leave her behind a dumpster. Actually, no, I do not apologize, and neither should anyone else. We sleep in the beds we make and Brock must now sleep in his.
As Emily Doe said herself, “In newspapers my name was ‘unconscious intoxicated woman,’ 10 syllables, and nothing more than that,” she continued. “For a while, I believed that that was all I was. I had to force myself to relearn my real name, my identity. To relearn that this is not all that I am. That I am not just a drunk victim at a frat party found behind a dumpster, while you are the All-American swimmer at a top university, innocent until proven guilty, with so much at stake.”
“I am a human being who has been irreversibly hurt, who waited a year to figure out if I was worth something.”
I am a firm believer that we all reap the consequences of our actions in this life or the next. We all have the free will to make our own choices and once those choices are made, we must stick by the results good or ill. If I were Brock Turner, I would be ashamed at the court system for allowing me leniency after such depravity because I had been “deeply altered” by my actions. If I were Emily Doe I would do everything in my power to never think of Brock Turner again and know that he will get what he deserves in the time it is due unto him, but I am not either of these people and I cannot understand what they are going through. Even more, I cannot understand why an individual responsible for doling out justice in this physical earth we live on, could think that Brock Turner deserved leniency to spare him from the “severe” impact of a longer prison sentence. What about the severe impact on Emily Doe? What about the challenges she has had to face?
I have no doubt that Brock Turner’s life has changed forever. I also have no doubt that he made a choice to do what he did. To rape Emily Doe. Actions have consequences; they impact us in good ways and bad ways.
I’m not a judge and I do not know the general practice for sentencing rapists to prison. Honestly, I do not know what the proper length of incarceration would be if were charged with the sentencing. What I do know is, that to worry about the effects of prison on a criminals life should not weigh so heavily on a judges mind. Brock Turner is not a minor, Brock Turner is not insane, Brock Turner is not weak, Brock Turner is not even uneducated; he is fully capable of being accountable for his actions.
I’ve said it once and I will say it again, the stigma, the culture, the education about and around rape needs to change or we will continue down this dark path where the violators are continuously treated as victims and the abused are merely pitied.
Emily Doe is every woman, man, child, and individual who has been assaulted and abused. She is every person who stands up to bullies and says no to the ones who try to break them. Thank you for your strength and the strength you give others to build their lives back up. I stand behind you.
“The seriousness of rape has to be communicated clearly, we should not create a culture that suggests we learn that rape is wrong through trial and error” – Emily Doe