The pain and trauma in the 12-page victim impact statement written by Brock Turner’s victim is harrowing. I implore you: read it all. Then read every word again and share it.
I hope you are moved to tears too. Not because you are triggered – although more than one in ten of us will be. But because you are angry and sad. And then because you are hopeful.
It is brave, and strong, and – almost inconceivably – cause for belief that our culture could change. Because every time we read it and share it and talk about it and amplify this courageous woman’s voice – we become braver and stronger.
Read it and you will be repulsed not only by what happened on what should have been just another Saturday night, but also by what followed. If you ever want a demonstration of the old boys’ club looking after its own, this is it. It is a disgusting example of what happens when you’re a wealthy, white middle class male who did something horrific. This is rape culture.
In America and the UK, much has been made of the rape crisis on campus. But this is more than a crisis. When a young man is given a six-month sentence for rape because it might otherwise have ‘a severe impact’ on him, when that man cannot acknowledge that what he did was wrong; when he tries to blame a woman, when he sees his mistake as having drunk too much, when he cannot see that he was never given consent, when he can still be portrayed as a man who shouldn’t have his ‘promise’ impeded, when his actions are excused by his father – this is rape culture.
In news reports following the attack, his sporting achievements were listed. He continues to be talked about as a promising athlete. Our media perpetuates a notion of disbelief. The promising college student. The rapist. Actually, they are the same thing. And for as long as society continues to separate them when talking or thinking of the Brock Turners, there is an enormous problem. For as long as the myth stands, that boys will be boys, but nice boys don’t rape – the problem is compounded and the culture continues to breed.
While Brock Turner was written about as having promise, the woman he raped was referred to as an ‘unconscious intoxicated woman’. The court wanted to know all about her past. Not her promise. Which Brock Turner treated with complete disdain at a time when she could not say yes.
I am in complete awe of her bravery. To stand in court and read her 35-minute statement to the face of her attacker, to fight for a year, to do this not just for herself but for the girls everywhere that she says she now stands with: this is courage. And it is by us reading her statement, sharing it, pressing it into the hands of our girlfriends and reading it aloud to our sons – it is in this way that we will perhaps find an inkling of hope. Because by being with her as she is with us, it is in this way that we could see change. We could reach a place where our daughters are never blamed for not being able to say yes or no.