I called my mom last week to tell her that I was doing an opinion column on the Brock Turner case.
To my surprise, she asked me, “What’s that?”
I immediately felt my stomach turn. I wasn’t prepared to answer her question. I had never had to explain the Brock Turner case to someone before because it’s been all over our social media and news outlets. How could I adequately describe one of the most hated men in America?
“It’s the reason I can’t go out at night by myself,” I wanted to say. “It’s the reason I have to keep an eye on my drink every second of every party I attend.”
If you don’t know about Brock Turner, here’s the gist: He sexually assaulted a woman, he pleaded not guilty, and he served three months in jail.
And here’s the kicker—they dropped rape charges on Oct. 7 because there was no “genital-to-genital contact” apparent in the DNA test.
No part of that woman’s DNA can show you the fear she will have in the back of her mind for the rest of her life. There is nothing a rape kit can show to even cover an inkling of the torture she will endure every time she sees that man’s face on her television, on her computer, on any kind of media.
Imagine having to see the man that raped you every time you open a social media app. Imagine being so disgusted and hurt that you refuse to go public with your name. The victim has been recognized as “Emily Doe” in media write-ups to protect her privacy.
What hurts me the most is that he paid for it with just three months of his life. He was caught red-handed, the evidence was apparent, and he was released after only three months.
People charged with marijuana distribution have faced more severe charges. In Oklahoma, the minimum sentence for possession of the drug is two years in jail.
Dear judicial system:
Marijuana can’t make you bleed into the streets behind a dumpster. Marijuana can’t violate you to the point of not being able to recognize yourself.
Marijuana cannot force itself into your body.
Marijuana can cause problems depending on the circumstances when the drug is inhaled. The circumstances of rape make no difference. Drugged or not, drunk or not, unconscious or not, white or black, male or female, rape is never any easier, and it is never acceptable.
There are no exceptions to rape. There is no “but” to rape. There is no one on this planet immune to the psychological horrors caused by rape. Every victim deserves justice. Every victim has been violated in a way that was not her fault.
And if you’re reading this thinking “Rape is terrible; isn’t that obvious?” I would like you to pose the same question to our judicial system—the same judicial system that allows hundreds of rape kits to go unchecked every year.
To the woman who saw her attacker go free, you are not alone. My neighbor sexually harassed me when I was in the fourth grade. He was in his late teens. My parents filed a report. My sister was a witness. My other neighbors were witnesses. I had to watch him go to and from his home without penalty until they moved away.
I know our situations are not nearly the same. I know that you’ll never look at a drink, at a man, at anyone in this world the same way. But I will fight and pray for your justice as loudly and as frequently as I possibly can. Our laws need to change. Our world needs to change.
Stay strong, Emily Doe. You are so brave. You are powerful, beautiful and important. Never let anyone take that away. Never forget that you matter.
Never forget that you are not alone.