On Thursday, 20-year-old Brock Turner, the former Stanford swimmer who in March was convicted of sexually assaulting an unconscious woman behind a dumpster, saw his original six-year sentence commuted to six months. Santa Clara County Superior Court Judge Aaron Persky ruled that prison could have a "severe impact on him," and given his age and his lack of a record, wasn't deserved.
At the sentencing hearing, Turner's victim read a statement to her attacker and the court, the full text of which is available on BuzzFeed. In it, she highlighted both the absurdity and the injustice of going easy on a man found guilty of assault, for fear of doing damage to him. She might have won her case, she said, but:
"Nobody wins. We have all been devastated ... Your damage was concrete? stripped of titles, degrees, enrollment. My damage was internal, unseen, I carry it with me. You took away my worth, my privacy, my energy, my time, my safety, my intimacy, my confidence, my own voice, until today."
The survivor, whose name has been kept out of the media, has no memory of the attack because she was passed out at the time. Turner's lawyer used that against her.
"I was not only told that I was assaulted, I was told that because I couldn't remember, I technically could not prove it was unwanted," she said. She was shamed throughout the process, cast as "the face of girls gone wild."
"I was pummeled with narrowed, pointed questions that dissected my personal life, love life, past life, family life, inane questions, accumulating trivial details to try and find an excuse for this guy who had me half naked before even bothering to ask for my name."
By being so lenient with his sentencing, she said, the judge sent the message that rape was excusable the first time around, especially those who come from privileged backgrounds. But campus sexual assault is a huge problem: One in every five women is assaulted in college, and 63% of men at one university who admitted to acts qualifying as rape are repeat offenders. The first instance should be taken seriously, she said, not assumed to be a one-off.
"Assault is not an accident," she said, adding that in order to stop men raping women, we need to "show men how to respect women, not how to drink less."