On Jan. 18, 2015, Brock Turner of Stanford University raped a 22-year-old woman. For his three counts of sexual assault, Turner faced up to 14 years in prison; however he was sentenced to only six months of prison with three years of probation because Judge Aaron Persky was concerned that a longer sentence would have a negative impact on the rest of Turner’s life.
Turner was released on Sep. 2, after serving only three months of his sentence.
Even though this case took place on the other side of the country, the larger implications speak for our society in general–we care more for the “severe impact” a rape will have on the rapist’s life than we do about the effect on the victim.
Back in June, Dan Turner, Brock Turner’s father, wrote a letter to Judge Persky that perfectly demonstrates this mindset. He states:
“As it stands now, Brock’s life has been deeply altered forever by the events of January
17th and 18th. He will never be his happy go lucky self with that easy going personality
and welcoming smile. His every waking minute is consumed with worry, anxiety, fear, and depression. You can see this in his face, the way he walks, his weakened voice, his lack of appetite.”
Throughout his letter, Turner’s father never once mentions the way“the events of January 17 and 18” affected the young woman his son raped.
According to the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network (RAINN), many of the effects Turner’s father described are actually quite common in survivors of rape and sexual assault. Depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, and eating disorders are just a few of the psychological, emotional, and physical effects the survivor must learn to deal with.
Ironically, Judge Persky and Dan Turner forgot about this when thinking about the effects on Turner’s life.
It is disheartening and downright disgusting to realize that there is a significant portion of the population of the United States that so blatantly values the life of a rapist over that of the survivor.
For survivors of sexual assault and rape, this is an obvious slap in the face. It is difficult enough to gather the courage and support to press charges against a rapist, but to also be forced to come to terms with the fact that there is a significant chance that one’s rapist will walk away with little to no punishment makes that decision even harder.
As a nation, we cannot question why so few survivors come forward when we allow rapists like Brock Turner to walk out of jail after only serving a three month sentence. We must stand behind sexual assault and rape survivors and work to ensure that no one else faces the trauma that Turner’s victim was forced to endure upon the outcome of Turner’s trial.