Another powerful message from a courageous survivor. I am sharing the following message that was shared with a sexual assault message group. Because this is a more public forum, I have chosen to remove the author's name (because she is a survivor of sexual assault). She wrote the letter openly, but I don't know her, so am choosing to protect her privacy. Great words...
Good Morning, the Fort Wayne Sexual Assault Treatment Center is lucky to know a brave woman [survivor's name withheld]. Below is the letter that she wrote in response to Mr. Turner stating that his son should not have to be punished his whole life for "20 minutes of action." Please share with whoever you feel would benefit from her powerful words. In today's society, it seems that sometimes a blind eye is turned for our patients, and no one truly understands until it happens to them.
*So, apparently (as everyone has noticed) the story of Brock Turner has been weighing heavily on my heart. Today I sent his father an open letter. I wanted to share it for all of you who continue to live with the effects of sexual assault.
Dear Mr. Turner,
I have, as much of the nation, followed the story of your son’s trial as well as the circumstances surrounding the rape of his victim. I wanted to say first and foremost that as a parent and a Christian, I understand your desire to protect your son, to ensure that he has a life to return to and that he can be a functioning member of society. It is, what I believe, all parents wish for their children, even ones who have committed a heinous act. No parent should turn their back on their child, and I am sure that no one expected you to feel any differently regarding your son.
I do, however, wish to offer you a very important prospective that may be vital to your point of view.
You see, I am your son’s victim.
Not the most recent, you understand. I am what a victim has become twenty years after sexual assault.
While you speak passionately about how your son has been unable to eat, about how he will now be affected for the rest of his life because of his “twenty minutes of action”, I would like to give you some insight on what those actions, regardless of how brief, impact a victim for the rest of her life.
Like your son’s victim, I was young, I made mistakes, I was somewhere that I had used poor judgement before going to. Like your son, my attacker was an “elite athlete”, who had so much going for him beyond what he had done.
Unlike your son's victim, I caved into pressure. I was told that there would most likely not be a conviction and, afraid of everyone knowing what had happened, calling me a liar, a whore, an attention seeker, I caved into pressure and buried my shame as far down as I could reach. I was not brave like your son’s victim.
But here are some ways that your son’s victim will be like me:
She will have parts of her body, regardless of the showers, the therapy, the emotional cleansing that she goes through, that she will want to set on fire. She will remember touches from your son, from nurses collecting samples and will wince occasionally and unintentionally when she is touched lovingly by her husband.
She will be on stage accepting an award for the good works that she has performed, and she will catch a hint of cologne that instantly throws her back to that night. She will have to do everything in her power, unknown to a room full of clapping admirers, to keep the bile from rising up in her throat and vomiting all over that stage.
She will be cleaning a skinned knee after her son comes to her crying from a spill off his bike, and the peroxide will suddenly remind her of cleaning her wounds after her attack. There, kneeling in a gravel alley over her little boy’s band-aid, she will use every ounce of strength to command her body not to shake and convulse in front of him.
As a parent, I imagine it is hard for you to have any empathy past your own son, which may be an indicator into his upbringing and why it was possible for him to do what he did to this young woman. Good parents have kids that make mistakes, for sure. But your excuses for him are beyond protective and downright disturbing, Mr. Turner. The fact that you can completely disregard your son’s victim with the knowledge that this could have been your wife, your daughter, your mother...
No one is telling you to stop loving or abandon your son, Mr. Turner. What we are asking is that you stand up for your daughter. Your wife. Your mother. Your future grand-daughters.
Men are also victims of sexual assault and rape, Mr. Turner. I ask that you take into thought that by your actions you may very well be paving the way for someone who victimizes your son or grandson. It doesn't end with women.
For they are all your son’s victims. They are all us, and we are all them, and when you excuse and condone your son’s actions, you are not only violating your son’s victim, you are violating the people you love, you are destroying their place in the world, you are ensuring that there is nowhere safe, or just, or merciful for any of us.
We hope you keep this in mind, Mr. Turner, as your son continues his life and throughout the next victims that he creates (and believe me, Mr. Turner, there will be more.)
My hope is that you can find some way to repair the damage you have done from the role you played in all of this, and that one day you can understand that those “20 minutes of action” as you refer to have done more damage that you can possibly imagine to more people than you or your son could ever make amends to.
[Survivor's Name Withheld]