[TRIGGER WARNING: Rape, Sexual Assault, Physical & Mental Abuse, Substance Abuse]
It’s probably impossible for you not to have heard about the Stanford sexual assault case yet. It has been strewn across the digital landscape, hitting an all-too-familiar chord with too many of us.
After Brock Turner, found guilty of sexually assaulting a (now) 23-year-old woman, was sentenced to merely six months in jail – cut down today to only three months – the internet has lit up. Turner, a Stanford swimmer, was let off easy by a judge because of his promising future and Olympic hopes. The ruling judge on the case, Aaron Persky, stated that “a [longer] prison sentence would have a severe impact on him.”
The unnamed survivor bravely released a lengthy, honest, heart-wrenching statement in which she details the extent of which the experience has affected her family’s, friends’, and most severely, her own life. This survivor is a woman who has been told her whole life not to drink too much, to choose the safe path home, and to hold her keys between her knuckles, all “just in case” she falls victim to a rapist. Yet no one dared tell her rapist not to rape. Turner too submitted his own response letter, blaming most of the attack purely on alcohol, something he was never warned against abusing, and something that doesn’t even make scientific sense anyway. According to research done by the National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, there is no direct association between alcohol and sexual assault, or as Thinkprogress.com puts it “The desire to commit a sexual assault may actually encourage alcohol consumption, as some men may drink before assaulting a woman in order to help justify their behavior.”
Brock Turner was let off easy because he is a white, well-off kid who has had the privilege of being able to afford athletic training and an array of male sympathy. One male in question is, typically, his father. Yes parents are often bias due to their unconditional love for their children, but to accept the fact – yet not admit – that your child is a rapist, is taking the cake just a little. And to actually go as far as to claim that your child is being “unfairly” treated for “20 minutes of action,” is just downright disgusting.
This is rape culture, and we’re staring it straight in the eyes.
Within only one year we’ve seen Ghomeshi, Turner, and countless others walk away with a slap on the wrist because of privilege – how do we move forward? How do we not lose hope?
Being inundated with graphic information can be difficult for some survivors of sexual assault – while other people find information empowering. In order to move forward, it is important to remember as much as we’d like to focus on the aggressors themselves, we must also acknowledge the culture that perpetuates these instances, and the strength of survivirs and their networks for moving ahead.
The most common thing I’ve heard from those around me is how triggering the random onslaught of articles has been. And although we want to seek education on the events, unwanted imagery and details can awake troubling feelings. So with this in mind, this round-up will focus on information regarding the Brock Turner case as well as some self-care resources. ‘Taking care of yourself’ looks different to everyone, use this to piece together your own experience towards that.
An Open Letter To The Father Of Convicted Stanford Rapist Brock Turner, Lauren Masservey
“By appealing to the courts and telling them that your son made a mere “mistake,” you are telling Brock that he is not responsible for what he did. You’re saying “boys will boys,” that the girl MUST have given consent and because she did, the blame rests on her shoulders. You are telling the court to shrug their shoulders because sometimes, boys make silly mistakes, but by golly, he’s a good boy and he’ll learn from that gosh-darn mistake.”
“Even when he is appealing to the judge that he will use the experience from his assault against the unnamed victim to better society, he does not acknowledge what happened that night for the assault that it was — but rather, ‘events that transpired,’ a phrase distancing himself from the crime so thoroughly that it reads as if he might not have been there at all.”
Brock Turner will spend more time in jail than 97% of rapists, Stassa Edwards
“The complexity and honesty of the victim’s letter is staggering, particularly when compared to the callousness of the responses by Persky, as well as Turner himself, as well as his father and friends. The gap between the two ways of speaking—a plea for humanity versus a plea for impunity—is obvious proof of a cultural sickness that often feels incurable, which today is often called rape culture.”
“The Dress was a viral phenomenon from February 2015, viewed by many media commentators as a watershed content event, which—just kidding. You know what the Dress was, and this was nothing like the Dress, except that a lot of people read a post on BuzzFeed.com and then shared it, which was good for BuzzFeed’s traffic and ‘social lift.’ Don’t worry that you don’t know what ‘social lift’ is, because it doesn’t matter. What matters is the size of the internet-induced journalistic hero complex that it takes to publicly applaud oneself and one’s staff for hitting mega-vi numbers on a piece about a brutal rape.”
Smile Sweetly, Don’t Shout, Reina Gattiuso
“We can understand these social norms as hierarchizing the value of human life — men over women, white people over people of color — such that marginalized people often end up taught (or forced) to prioritize those who oppress us over ourselves.Whose pain matters? Whom do we rally around? Whose voices do we dismiss offhand, finding their truth too keening? Whose voices never reach our ears?”
Self Care After Trauma, Rainn
“Self-care is about taking steps to feel healthy and comfortable. Whether it happened recently or years ago, self-care can help you cope with the short- and long-term effects of a trauma like sexual assault.” A list of self-care activities and resources covering physical and emotional needs.
Sex After Sexual Assault, Everyday Feminism
“You deserve goodness. You, as a human creature, deserve goodness. This is something that I know unequivocally. I know this from the depth of my being, that you, dear human, deserve goodness. You deserve to be touched and seen and known, if that’s what your deepest heart desires. You also deserve to be touched and seen and known on your own terms and at your own pace.”
Emotional First Aid Tips, Vanissar
“When I talk about Emotional First Aid I mean simple, body-based practices that can help us shift from triggered, reactive states, into centered, creative states. I’ve put together a ‘kit’ of these portable, easy-to-learn tools to soothe us when we are in crisis-mode, so we can make better choices.”
55 gentle ways to take care of yourself when you’re busy, busy, busy, The Freedom Experiment
“We all have times in our lives when we just have too much stuff going on. There are always deadlines, exams, due dates and just too many priorities to juggle. And when everything is going wrong, the world is screaming for your attention and you just don’t have time – the last thing you need to hear is to ‘just take a day off’.”
“WAVAW Rape Crisis Centre works to end all forms of violence against women. Guided by our feminist anti-oppression philosophy we challenge and change thinking, actions, and systems that contribute to violence against women. We provide all women who have experienced any form of sexualized violence with support and healing, and engage with youth to develop leadership for prevention of future violence.” WAVAW runs a 24 hour crisis line for all female-identifying folk, as well as offering support services in Vancouver, BC. Their website has a quick exit option for those that fear being walked-in on.
[image via x]