Ten years have now gone by, ten long years since my body and my trust were violated. Ten years of rebuilding my self-confidence, my body image, my perception of sexuality. The letter written to Stanford rapist Brock Allen Turner by his victim brought on a wave of emotion- sadness, anger, frustration. I need to say a few things, too.
This woman deserved her moment of truth. Her words were eloquent, heartbreaking, honest and raw. She sounds like she could be anyone’s friend, sister, daughter. Her attacker was caught in the moment, her rape was obvious from the moment it happened. And STILL she was tormented during a trial, having to defend herself as if she was guilty until proven innocent enough for the world to care. Despite all this, her attacker only got six months. Six fucking months for forever damaging her. How is this justice?
The country has surprisingly supported this woman and outrage has been flooding social media regarding the rapist’s light sentence. This story isn’t new. We can’t possibly be surprised that an affluent white athlete was given a pass. Are we suddenly outraged because this victim is the one we needed? The circumstances left nothing for us to judge about her? And even with this ideal victim a rapist gets a slap on the wrist.
This. This is why I held my tongue ten years ago. Society had already trained me to question how I had brought about my own rape. Did I fight hard enough? I knew my rapist and he was a friend of mine. Maybe I sent mixed signals (even after pushing him off me, crying out “no,” maybe I wore something slutty?). I had been drinking a lot. What was I doing at a club drinking if it wasn’t to “hook up?” Maybe he only did it because he liked me and I shouldn’t be so offended. With these thoughts swirling in my head, I’m not surprised I tried to kill myself shortly after it happened.
I didn’t want to admit it was rape. I didn’t want to be one of those people who had been raped. The way I would explain it in my head was “I am really confused why he was inside me when I didn’t want that.” It wasn’t until after I tried killing myself and saw a psychiatrist that the word rape was even brought up. At that point, legally speaking, it would be my word against his. And clearly I was crazy, I had just tried to kill myself! Who would believe me? What was the point of pressing charges?
Years later I found out my rapist had done the same thing to two other women I know, though they were in high school when it happened. From what I understand they also didn’t feel anyone would believe them and kept quiet, allowing him to continuously prey on new women. Our silence was a heavy burden within our own selves and a dangerous pact that guaranteed more to join us. But the legal system and societal norms continue this tragic pattern. We do not believe victims. We judge them. Even when the truth of what happened is right in front of us-witnesses, physical evidence-our legal system does not stand with them.
I wish I had been able to address my rapist in a courtroom, see the fear in his eyes as he realized the consequences of his actions. I was not someone to strip down and dehumanize, I was not a “passing bit of fun,” I was not your power trip. I didn’t get that moment of reckoning, but I hope this outrage against Brock Allen Turner helps another woman get hers. I hope this outrage creates a backlash against our rape culture, our victim shaming/blaming, our rapist apologists.
Rapists be warned- you will not be able to hide behind a cloak of alcohol, the guise of athleticism, the blanket of wealth. We are seeing the monster underneath and will plaster your face on every social media outlet until you feel as exposed and vulnerable as the ones you have tried to victimize. Your days are numbered.