Take a moment to envision a moment in time – as though it was a play or a scene from a crappy movie. It’s the year 2008 and there’s a house party with multiple attendees. A young girl, barely nineteen, finds a bedroom where she can lay down because she drank just a little bit too much alcohol. Then someone else comes in the room and starts unbuttoning her pants. Helpless in her stupor, all she can do is attempt to scream and hope someone hears her, as her entire life changes in just twenty minutes (or maybe even less).
As an investigation ensues, she may stop pressing charges because all of the invasive questions they ask force her to relive a nightmare over and over. People accuse her of lying or “twisting the truth” and eventually – although she is innocent – some perceive her as being in the wrong. I mean, how could she try to ruin his life like that?
Looking back she’ll tell you that maybe she remembered it wrong, that as time passes she’s been able to slowly move on. She’ll say that she doesn’t even remember his name – a lie – and that she can’t remember what the party was even for – another lie. I promise you this, even though she’s tried for years to forget, those few moments in time linger in the back of her mind. Sometimes, when she’s busy and things are going well, she forgets they’re there. Then, she’ll read something or see something and suddenly she’s nineteen and all alone again.
Recently, that something was an article about the trial of Brock Turner. Brock is a former Stanford swimmer who, in January 2015, raped and assaulted a fellow student on campus. In response to a six month prison sentence, which most likely be lessened to three, his father claimed that it was an awfully steep sentence for twenty minutes of action. In addition, the news article claims that Brock is now an advocate for the prevention of assault on college campuses. So his good behavior lessened his sentence, but did it lessen his victims?
No, it didn’t. When did being a pretentious asshole with a powerful daddy become justification for going around raping people? I’m sorry, but last time I checked it doesn’t. Six months in prison is nothing compared to the sentence his victim will pay for the rest of her life. She will never forget the name Brock Turner and, although I cannot speak directly on her behalf, I doubt she will ever feel completely safe again.
It’s been seven and a half years from the night described at the beginning of this article. The girl still hesitates when she drinks too much because she realizes that even her friends can’t be trusted. She still recalls what it feels like to relive a nightmare – over and over – and then be punished because she was a victim. She can recall one of the worst nights of her life, even though so much time has passed. Her attacker was never punished because she couldn’t handle the dire questioning and the endless stares she received from those who surrounded her. In addition, she wonders how six months compares to the punishment she’s served for being in the wrong place at the wrong time under negative circumstances. You see, I know how these things feel, because that young girl was me.