I’ve been going back and forth about what to say (or if I should say anything at all) about this case and the system that allowed it all to unfold. I mean, we (you and I) JUST talked about sexual assaults and college athletes. And a lot of very smart people have written a great deal about Brock Turner, his father, the judge who presided over his case, his privilege and even the men who caught him. So it almost seems unnecessarily redundant to devote more internet space to this particular rapist. But it dawned on me that in focusing on all of those men, we were actually missing the mark and focusing on the wrong person(s). Yes, what he did was disgusting. Yes, his status as a white, upper-middle class, educated, athletically gifted man set him up to receive a disturbing, embarrassing 6 month sentence for raping an unconscious woman. Yes, our system is highly skewed in favor of people with his privilege. Yes, we are smack dab in the middle of a country that repeatedly fails its rape victims and condones rape and violence against women. But I think it’s time we focus on the other important person in this crime, the victim, and what I have to say to her is fairly simple:
To the unnamed woman whose life Turner forever altered, I’m sorry. I know it’s not my fault, but I’m sorry. I’m sorry that we live in a country where a strange man felt comfortable enough to violate you in the most unimaginable way possible. I’m sorry that this country’s judicial system failed you and cared more about his life, feelings and future than it did yours. I’m so very sorry that your pain is being used for political discussions about racism, privilege and sexism. I’m so very sorry that this happened to you. But while I am sorry, I am also grateful.
Thank you. Thank you for being strong enough to share YOUR hurt, YOUR confusion, YOUR anger in the face of people who tried to minimize those things. YOUR feelings are what this country needs to hear about. We need to hear about how rape forever changes the VICTIM’S life and how no deserves experience what you did. Thank you for not letting him, his family or this country shame you into silence. Thank you for refusing to not blame yourself and for being courageous enough to look your attacker in the face and not back down. Not every woman in your position (and believe me there are far too many) chooses to fight for her humanity in that way. The way each of you fights to reclaim your peace, your dignity, your lives is courageous. But the way you’ve chosen to fight for yours has the potential to encourage another women in your position to fight for hers. Your candor and honesty have helped those who have not been touched personally by the crime of rape feel its impact. Your passionate voice has encouraged others to speak up for victims and against the system that fails them. So thank you and know that there are girls and women, GladiatHers and non-GladiatHers alike, men and boys who thank you too.