The case of a women’s rape by a Stanford student and the lenient sentence handed down by Judge Persky to her assailant Brock Turner has created outrage and waves of protest including petitions for his recall here and here and here. Guilt wasn’t in doubt – the assault was interrupted by witnesses. However, it’s nothing new to see short sentences, lesser counts, or probation. Failure to prosecute or even accept a report from a survivor is common.
His father says his son’s life shouldn’t be ruined by “20 minutes of action“. He implies that the damage done to the victim — the disruption to her life and impact on her health and well-being — is inconsequential and asks us to consider the damage to his son. This statement perpetuates the myth that rape is merely a brief unpleasant experience and victims should just “get over it” and not disrupt their rapist’s lives with inconvenient consequences.
Sexual violence is not just 20 minutes of action. It’s a decision, or series of decisions.
Her victim impact statement is one of the most eloquent and moving descriptions of sexual violence and its aftermath that I have ever read. Yes, it is difficult to read such detail, but an essential element to protesting rape culture is to have far more more people understand and acknowledge the humanity of every victim.
Life as a self-defense instructor means I meet hundreds of survivors a year – of all ages and genders, with a wide variety of experiences of sexual violence at the hands of friends, family, acquaintances, and strangers. I see first hand so many ways that survivors are marked by the actions of those who violated them.
Share your thoughts about the lasting impact of sexual violence at #NotJust20. Add your voice to hers as this effort is not her burden alone but an imperative for all of us.