Friday, September 23, 2016

Talk About the Victim

Cassidy Smith
Staff Writer

                                                               
“Should Brock Turner be referred to as a rapist?”
“Mad About Brock Turner? Maybe You Shouldn't Be.”
These are just some of the headlines following Brock Turner, a convicted rapist, being released from prison after only three months.
 If you don’t remember what happened back in March of 2015, here’s a quick recap. Turner was found behind a dumpster, on top of an unconscious woman, raping her. Two other college students pinned him to the ground, confirmed the victim was alive and called the police. Upon examination, the victim showed signs of sexual trauma and Turner had her DNA under his fingernails.
 The case was brought to trial, and Turner was indicted on five charges: rape of an intoxicated person, rape of an unconscious person, assault with intent to rape an intoxicated woman, sexually penetrating an intoxicated person with a foreign object and sexually penetrating an unconscious person with a foreign object. With no proof of genital to genital contact, the two rape charges were dropped.
 Turner was found guilty on three out of the five charges, yet judge Aaron Persky sentenced him to six months in prison. More time, he said, would have a “severe impact on him.” His decision was influenced by Turner’s father, who wrote a letter urging the judge to sentence his son to only probation. “As it stands now,” Turner’s father wrote, “Brock’s life has been deeply altered forever.” Jail time would be a “steep price to pay for [his] 20 minutes of action.”
 In the end, Turner was released from prison after three months, due to good behavior. He registered on the Ohio sex offender list and returned home, safe and sound.
 Through all of my research, I scrolled through hundreds of articles about Turner himself. Where he went when he got released, new pictures of him in his backyard, the 4-1-1 on what he plans to do next. In the 20 articles, I read only three focused on the victim, and I’d assume this trend continues. Through all the outrage over what Turner did and how he was sentenced, we forget about the reason behind all of this. There is a woman that has to live with this trauma for the rest of her life. There is a woman being victim-blamed and asked about the clothes she was wearing when it happened. There is a woman suffering.
 “[...]what he did to me doesn’t expire, doesn’t just go away after a set number of years. It stays with me, it’s part of my identity, it has forever changed the way I carry myself, the way I live the rest of my life.” This is only a segment of the victim’s letter to Turner, which she read at his trial.
 Statistics show that one in four college women report surviving rape, or attempted rape, at some point in their lifetime. One in 16 men report the same. We, as a society, need to prevent this from happening. With such a lenient sentence for Brock Turner, this tells rapists all over the country that what they’re doing is OK. That if they get caught, they will get off easy like he did. We cannot change the judicial system ourselves, but we can support victims in the way they cannot.

 Have a voice. Talk about the victims, write articles about them; not about the perpetrator. Get involved. The RVA supports those affected by sexual violence and urges people to stand with them. As the outrage over Turner’s actions is warranted, remember that as he walks free she carries around this trauma for the rest of her life. She is the survivor, not him.

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