A College Girl's Reaction to Brock Turner's Early Release

3 months is approximately 90 days. In 3 months a season comes and goes. In 3 months you can experience the best summer of your life. You can move into a new apartment and after 3 months have it feel like home. 3 months after a puppy is born is generally the ideal time to begin training them. After 3 successful months pass, a pregnant woman can confidently announce her pregnancy. And if you’re lucky, you can fall in love in 3 months. But in just 3 months, I refuse to believe you can be taught a lesson about the repercussions for sexually assaulting another human being. 

The first time I heard about the Brock Turner case, I was sitting at my summer job in Boston doing my casual rounds of some of my favorite websites. I happen to stumble upon a Buzzfeed article titled, “Here Is The Powerful Letter The Stanford Victim Read Aloud To Her Attacker.” It was the first time I had heard about the case at all. The date was June 3, 2016 and it was my second week of work. As an English major I knew the power in writing so I clicked on it immediately. After reading it in full, I sat and stared at my computer for a little while trying to fully take in his victim’s words. It disturbs me to even give him the power to use the term “his victim,” because as we all know she will never belong to him. But regardless of that statement, it is evident that day Brock Turner selfishly took something from her that she will never get back. And for that he was sentenced 6 measly months.

In the blink of an eye, it was just three short months later. It was a couple of days after my last day of work, when I was reading the news and I stumbled upon Inside Edition’s headline, “Brock Turner to Be Released From Jail After Just 3 Months in Sex Assault Case, Records Show.” The date was August 30, 2016. My heart sank to the ground and I felt a lump in my throat. How could that have happened? I felt for the victim in a way I never have before. She had been completely failed, like so many other victims of sexual assault these days are. Brock Turner’s punishment in no way fit the heinous act he committed.

I know I am not alone when I say that as a female, Brock Turner being let out of prison on “good behavior” is absolutely terrifying. According to RAINN, an anti-sexual assault organization, due to my age, my setting, and my gender, I am three times more likely than women in general to experience sexual assault. With this statistic, let me tell you, comes with great responsibility.

The first thing I’ve learned is to never walk home at night by myself. It’s considered a “stupid and careless” thing to do. This means a majority of my days are spent trying to run all my errands, get to the gym, the library, etc. before the sun sets.

The second thing I’ve learned is to always stick with a buddy. Something my friends naturally do since we’re attached at the hip but things get complicated when one person wants to leave before everyone else. As a female college student, I’ve also learned to never accept a drink from a stranger, never go into a room alone with someone you don’t know, and don’t you dare drink more than you can handle. All of these things I’ve learned as a woman, so that I can do everything in my power to avoid sexual assault. But when it comes down to it, these things are simply out of our power to begin with. There’s something not right about that. My question, a question I believe many women share with me, is when will we be the ones who no longer have to learn lessons when we’ve done nothing wrong to begin with?

As a society, we are missing a detrimental factor to this whole issue: THE PREDATORS. The predators are the ones who are senselessly committing these crimes that cause irreparable damages. The truth is that until we get to the root of the problem and start holding these perpetrators responsible for their actions, there will be no deterrent for sexual assault. If we want to see a change in the statistics, we need to take a step back and start from the beginning.

Like perhaps, not teaching our sons to believe that sexual assault and “20 minutes of action” are in any way interchangeable terms. Because these are the kind of fathers who raise privileged, entitled sons that honestly believe pinning drinking on their actions is equivalent to a decent apology. “I want to show people that one night of drinking can ruin a life.” No Brock, one night of sexually assaulting an unconscious woman behind a dumpster and then shamelessly running away… THAT is what can ruin a life. And if you consider your life “ruined”, why don’t you look at the woman who you violated in every way that night? While you are no longer able to competitively swim and no longer have an appetite to eat your favorite rib eye steak (boohoo), she is permanently affected in a different more mentally damaging way. She cannot sleep, and when she does it’s with all the lights on or under the comfort of the sun, she cannot be alone, but also can sometimes not fathom being touched, she can no longer work full-time, etc. If that isn’t enough, she has the memory of finding out she was sexually assaulted by a greedy stranger while in a hospital bed with lesions and bruises on her body, stripped entirely of her security and identity, forever. Now try to tell me that your life is ruined, as if it’s some kind of tragedy.

That night you took everything from her. And the best apology you could come up with was an apology for drinking too much. That is pathetic. How did our justice system let a predator out on good behavior after unremorsefully victimizing a girl and exposing her body to the world. Own up to it, take responsibility for your actions, and stop being such a coward. Your life is not over. You spent three months in jail when you should have spent years to begin with. Stop feeling sorry for yourself, remember, you were never the victim.  

And to the resilient, anonymous woman who has involuntarily been trapped in this nightmare, I can only begin to comprehend the anger you are feeling. You should be angry. But find comfort in knowing that there is an extremely large, strong, and growing army behind you of both women and men that are fighting with you. And this army will not surrender. We stand together.