I've watched the emerging story of Brock Allen Turner's trial, conviction, and sentencing without much public comment. I have little to add to the appalled reactions of almost everyone on the planet (here's a particularly good one from ScaryMommy.com) about his six-month-probably-out-in-three sentence for rape, except this:
Like the victim, I was 22. Like the perpetrator, he was 19 and an athlete (though not university-sponsored). There was no alcohol involved and no witnesses. None but me. And I failed myself.
I remember his first name; I don't remember his last. I remember where we were and the word stop from my mouth and the fact that he didn't and what he said after it was over. I remember feeling humiliated and so ashamed that I swallowed the blame whole and tried to forget it had happened at all. I didn't even know to call it rape until twelve years later when a friend gave me the courage to pull the buried memories out and look at them again and then it was so, so obvious.
I doubt he remembers at all. I worry that what he did to me was one time in a string of other assaults on other women who didn't tell or weren't believed if they did and who knows when it stopped or if it ever stopped and how at fault am I for that? If some of the readers of news reports and novels where someone is sexually assaulted but doesn't tell are to be believed, I am at fault for every possible rape he may have committed after mine. This was my realization at age 34, right after I faced what had happened to me.
Last night, I thought: He's 48 now. He probably has kids. Maybe a daughter. Maybe a son. I don't know what he does for a living or where he lives. I don't know what he looks like now; I barely recall what he looked like then. He could be anyone. He could even be an enabling, rape-sanctioning father of a 20-something rapist. Because of course he would view what he did to me the same way Dan A. Turner views what his son did: as "action."
While I'm furious at Brock Turner for apologizing for drinking but not for raping an unconscious woman and his father for blaming alcohol and promiscuity and for mostly feeling sad that his son can't enjoy eating dinner anymore and Judge Aaron Persky for Good Ol' Boys clubbing from a seat of judicial authority, I refuse to let that anger be my primary emotion. I choose to save room in my soul to feel proud of and grateful for the victim - the survivor - who after enduring a solid year of this boy's courtroom lies had this to say. To. His. Face. I wish I'd had such courage and strength at her age - or at any age. Please read it if you haven't. Please, please read it.