If you haven’t read the Victim Impact Statement yet that was written by the woman who was raped by Brock Turner, please, take the time to do so. It’s on the BuzzFeed Site. Yes, it’s long. 7000 words in fact, but it’s incredibly well written, and very moving. I challenge anyone to read it and not feel some kind of new found empathy for rape/assault/molestation victims. It should be required reading for all people charged with rape, and all their families who try to defend them.
I read some pretty shitty comments on articles related to the Stanford Rapist, Brock Turner. I had written a piece about him yesterday, after his father released a statement, saying his poor son just didn’t feel like eating steak anymore. The Daily Mail picked up my blog post, and while I was reading other articles about him, I was simply amazed at some of the comments. I was amazed at how many rape apologists there were out there, and how many people thought that the victim should just move on. Many thought that since she was unconscious during the assault, and she couldn’t remember the attack, that she was being a cry baby, and shouldn’t be upset at all in the first place. Isn’t that kind of like saying that if your house in robbed, but you’re not home when it happens, that it’s ok, and you shouldn’t really care? Or that when you’re under anaesthetic during surgery, and they amputate your leg instead of removing an appendix, you weren’t awake, and didn’t feel it happening, so it’s all good? No? Don’t think those are good analogies? In each case, something fucked up happened, and you lost something you shouldn’t have. Oh, you think your material possessions are worth more than someone’s dignity or self worth? It’s ok, most people simply can’t comprehend the effect of sexual assault until they’ve lived it.
What I personally connected with in the letter written by the victim was the process of what occurred after the event. She was taken to a hospital, and was subjected to hours of rape kit testing. Her whole body photographed. Her body entered again with instruments. Having to speak to multiple people about the ordeal. Thankfully, I didn’t have to do that. I can’t imagine how hard that would have been. I did experience what happened after that though.
What people don’t tell you when you finally find the balls to start the legal process of getting some kind of justice from your attacker, is that it isn’t just going to be them that is on trial. The victim is also on trial. Maybe more so.
We all know the phrase “Innocent until proven guilty” and the courts, rightly, treat the defendant that way. Even people who have been caught in the act, maybe even on tape, but who plead not guilty, and drag their victims through court, are given the presumption of innocence. Not so the victim. The defendants lawyers will spend an insane amount of time, effort and money to dig up every piece of dirt on a victim. They will research your entire history, looking for anything that could possibly make you look less than trustworthy. They will read your entire FaceBook, Twitter, Instagram feeds, looking for the smallest thing they can bring up. Dare to post a smile on Instagram a month after your attack? Well, shame on you. How could you possibly ever smile again after such an alleged event? Go to a party? Busted! Oh, there’s a picture of you on the beach four years before the attack, and you’re wearing a bikini? Well, you’re just going around scantily dressed and inviting people to hit on you.
What’s your sexual preference? How many people have you been with? Any one night stands? Be prepared to share those details with a courtroom full of people. What color shoes were you wearing two weeks before the attack? You can’t remember? Well, if you can’t remember that, how come you can remember all the other details of what happened that day you were raped? You must just be making it up. Had consensual sex once while drunk with your boyfriend? If you could consent with your partner, why couldn’t you consent with the person you had never met before?
It amazes me how the defence is allowed to badger victims on the stand. They’re allowed to completely emotionally assault the victims, calling them all kinds of names, insinuating all kinds of things, or just outright calling them money grubbing, attention seeking sluts. They don’t have to prove their client is innocent, they just have to prove you’re not believable. You’re not credible. You’re not worthy of being believed. Going to court is the most soul destroying experience. Assuming you even make it that far.
After going to the police, there’s the investigation. Which could take years. Some people find just that part to be so bad, they they rescind their statements. Often when people “take it back” it’s not that it didn’t happen, it’s just that they want it to all go away. They don’t think they’re strong enough to go through with the process. Especially when there’s a huge power balance between the perp and the victim. There may be outright threats, but it could also be small stuff, like your family disowning you, your friends all distancing themselves, the police asking you to make phone calls to your attacker to try to get a confession on tape. Everyone in town who has been questioned in relation to the event judging you. Even if you are able to make it through the initial investigation, it may never even lead to an arrest. If he is arrested, it could take years before a trial, during which time your life’s on hold, waiting, waiting. Court dates are constantly moved, and each time, emotions are crazy. You have to re-live the event over and over. Then, you get to court, and even if the bastard is found guilty, it’s still not over. You still have to live with what happened to you. You have to live with the process, and the trauma of court. If your case was public, you get to have it be the first thing people think of when they think of you. I hope this girl gets to keep her anonymity. People can read her powerful statement, and not have to know who she is. She sounds incredibly strong and brave, and I hope she finds some sense of peace. Others who are public will always live with it, publicly and privately. Two years after Robert was found guilty, and I should be enjoying peace, I’m still dealing with a high court appeal, and the occasional dickhead who decides to hero worship Robert and try to ruin my day by popping up on my social media accounts, applauding the pedophile, and threatening me for speaking up. Imagine if two years after you went to court, you still have to deal with this:
So to all those idiots who think that victims of sexual assault should just be happy that their attacker got a slap on the wrist and should move on, get a grip on reality. The victim can’t just move on. Even if they were unconscious when it happened, they had to live with the trauma of getting through the court process, and they continue to live with the feeling they may never be safe again, or that their whole life is being judged, or that they may never just be their old selves again.
I hope none of those internet trolls have to learn empathy the hard way, or have to read the same type of comments about themselves that they once wrote about others.