Rent

Five hundred twenty-five thousand

six hundred minutes

Five hundred twenty-five thousand

Journeys to plan

Five hundred twenty-five thousand

six hundred minutes

How do you measure the life

Of a woman or a man?

Seasons of Love – Rent

We’re lucky.  Judge Persky isn’t burdening us with a lot of math on behalf of poor Brock Turner.  Figuring out the seconds, minutes, months of a 14 year sentence- the maximum penalty for the crimes of which he was convicted (that’s a whole other post) would have been an onerous task.  Even the six years the prosecutor recommended would have been heavy lifting for the math-challenged among us.

Six months, though.  That’s do-able.

180 days.

4380 hours.

262,800 minutes.

15,780,000 seconds.

Brock Turner is a rapist.  No one disputes that.  He was caught in the act, chased and detained by two passersby.  There’s no, “It wasn’t him,” or, “He didn’t do it.”  He’s not dumb, Brock Turner.  And he is, by all accounts, a talented swimmer.  Very used to thinking in terms of seconds and how to shave off time.  Obviously.

The crime of assault with intent to commit rape is considered a serious, violent offense under California law, despite the rapist’s daddy’s assertion that his son had never been violent up to AND INCLUDING his rape of an unconscious woman.

His defense lawyer did what defense lawyers always do in cases like this.  He questioned the morality of the victim, made excuses for his client, saying he was too drunk himself to realize she was passed out.  Not too drunk to run when someone spotted him, though.  I’ve watched enough Law & Order episodes to know that doesn’t fly.  If you’re cogent enough to try to escape detection and/or being detained, you’re cogent enough to know right from wrong.  And not for nothing, that’s like saying a drunk driver can’t be held accountable for a hit and run accident because he was too drunk to know what he was doing.

He also said, “that was just my attorney and his way of approaching the case. I didn’t want to degrade her in any way. I regret that.”

Stop.  Seriously.

His defense attorney works for him, not the other way around.  Brock the rapist was in charge of his defense.  If his defense attorney enacted a strategy, I bet you everything in my pocket against everything in your pocket it was discussed extensively and agreed upon.

It’s like that commercial, “That’s not how this works.  That’s not how ANY of this works.”

Except you know what?  It is.

On some level it did work.

“A prison sentence would have a severe impact on him,” Persky said. “I think he will not be a danger to others.”

Yes.  That is what happens when you commit a violent crime against someone who cannot defend herself.  Pro tip: I find that when you do not do that, the impact on your life is considerably less severe.

And Judge Persky- you THINK he will not be a danger to anyone else? You had better be right about that.

Turner’s father lamented that his son “will never be his happy go lucky self with that easy-going personality and welcoming smile.”

Perhaps it’s for the best.  No one likes a cheerful rapist.

“His life will never be the one that he dreamed about and worked so hard to achieve,” his father wrote. “That is a steep price to pay for 20 minutes of action out of his 20 plus years of life.”

His dad knows this didn’t HAPPEN to Brock, right?

Stanford released a statement saying, “This was a horrible incident, and we understand the anger and deep emotion it has generated.”  Incident is not the word I would use.  In fact, their use of the word incident leads me to believe they utterly FAIL to understand the anger and deep emotion this CRIME and the utterly insulting sentence imposed on its perpetrator has incited.

Brock the rapist said he was “sorry for what he put the victim and her family through during the trial.”  Just during the trial? What about what he put her through behind the dumpster?  What about the humiliation of the rape examination?  What about her injuries?  Her trauma?  What about her parents’ pain in hearing that their daughter had been violated?

Is he sorry for any of that, or just sorry that two grad students happened upon him assaulting her unconscious body and put and end to his good time?  Is he sorry he didn’t finish before they gave chase and caught him?  Is he sorry he wasn’t able to slink away in the night and leave her there, as he undoubtedly would have, defenseless against God knows what else?

I suspect Brock the rapist is really, really sorry he got caught.  I’m inclined to believe Brock the rapist truly despairs that his stellar swim times, mentioned in the earliest reports of the attack, were not enough to get him out of having to stand trial.  Poor, poor Brock the rapist.

The survivor of this attack wrote a searing victim impact statement which she read aloud, in court, to her rapist.  She read this BEFORE Judge Persky sentenced Brock Turner, the convicted rapist.  Judge Persky heard this statement, and THEN decided six months was appropriate.

I do not know what to do with that.

It began,

You don’t know me, but you’ve been inside me, and that’s why we’re here today.

Okay.

I don’t know her name, and I hope it remains that way until and unless SHE decides she wants to speak publicly about her story.  But I want to talk to her right now.  I hope this finds its way to her.

Dear One.

You are now the unwilling, reluctant member of a huge community.  A community of survivors.

You never wanted to be one of us, but here you are.

I remember seeing a PSA in the 90’s.  It was on the MBTA in Boston.  I believe it was raising awareness about sexual assault.  I know the intention was good, but it said, essentially, “He got ten years, she got a life sentence.”  I need you to know that does not need to be your story.  I wish Brock had gotten ten years- his sentence is obscene and an affront to all decent people.  But please know this- this does not have to be a life sentence for you.

You have already begun the difficult work of healing- you are already on your way.  I am telling you that, because you might not feel that way.

You are standing firmly in your story.  You are saying, “THIS HAPPENED.”  You are unflinchingly confronting your attacker.  You are demanding to be heard and seeking justice, which sadly seems to be elusive in this case.

YOU are the author of your life story.  This small measure of a man, this rapist, Brock Turner, wrote one chapter.  He does not get to dictate the narrative and he does not get to write the ending.  We simply will not allow it, okay?

He is taking up some space in your mind right now.  He’s not even a renter, he’s a squatter.  He is there, uninvited, and it probably seems like he will never leave.  It’s hard, squatters are notoriously difficult to evict, but evict him you will. 

At the end of the day, he has to move through the world being who he is, a rapist, and you get to move through the world being who you are.

A WARRIOR.

You are not alone.  Not even close.

Hang on.  Both hands.

Her statement concluded with these words:

“And finally, to girls everywhere, I am with you. On nights when you feel alone, I am with you. When people doubt you or dismiss you, I am with you. I fought everyday for you. So never stop fighting, I believe you. As the author Anne Lamott once wrote, “Lighthouses don’t go running all over an island looking for boats to save; they just stand there shining.”

Although I can’t save every boat, I hope that by speaking today, you absorbed a small amount of light, a small knowing that you can’t be silenced, a small satisfaction that justice was served, a small assurance that we are getting somewhere, and a big, big knowing that you are important, unquestionably, you are untouchable, you are beautiful, you are to be valued, respected, undeniably, every minute of every day, you are powerful and nobody can take that away from you. To girls everywhere, I am with you. Thank you.”

Amen, sister.

17 Comments on “Rent

  1. What a moving account of another great warrior. Hopefully she will read this and hear your words to her. ❤

    Like

  2. Not to worry, sister, we are all with you. No, six months was not nearly enough – and neither would 6 years be enough. 60 years might do it. But then again, he has money – we don’t. It’s all a great big sad, sorry game to some people – except the victims. It’s no game to us. It’s life, it’s trauma, it’s memories we’d rather not have to live with, and yet we do. And to think that this jerk and this jerky of a judge believe 6 months is enough. Wow – what a pathetic excuse for a human being in both cases.

    So sorry, sweetie. But you know – we will always have your back.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Thanks for your words of strength and encouragement to this victim/survivor. She may well see it, given the distance He Wrote It Down traveled. The web of people now connected because of you may well include someone who will show this to her.

    Of course your words aren’t just for her, but for all of us. When part of the quote from the criminal’s father was posted as text on the screen while watching the national news last night, I’m pretty sure my jaw actually dropped. I know I froze for at least several seconds. I can’t begin to imagine the impact of those words on other survivors, on top of all of the other crap already unleashed.

    We want to believe there is progress being made in awareness of violence against women and sexual assault, and then….more headlines.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Laura. I can’t.

    Her pain.

    Six months.

    Unspeakable.

    How do you read that kind of thing and find strength to keep going?

    How does she? How do any of us?

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Thank you for putting so many of my thoughts into words here. And for calling the perpetrator what he is with every mention of his name. That is powerful.

    I had a friend post on FB regarding the sentence and kept on clicking the “similar stories” until I got to the entire letter from the survivor. She is a strong, strong woman who is forever changed by the actions of one boy.

    We must continue to speak out until the victim shaming and perpetrator pandering stops.

    Liked by 2 people

  6. We must repeat ‘ Brock the rapist’, get it repeated, again and again.
    Then Judge Persky, Brock the rapist’s friend and enabler.
    Then the father, the father of Brock the Rapist, the apple doesn’t fall far.

    I read every word she wrote to stand with her, to feel her pain, to hold her spirit, to admire her strength. You are not alone.

    Liked by 4 people

  7. I read her entire victim impact statement earlier today. She was remarkably articulate and strong. I had *imagined* that it was read after sentencing and that Judge Persky was deeply ashamed of his sentencing after listening to her. Judge Persky, Shame on you. Unbelievable.

    Liked by 3 people

  8. You did a very honorable job of taking care of all those words. So I will go ahead and take care of the string of expletives because that is still all I can come up with. Expletives strung in the middle of ‘Brock the rapist’ and ‘Persky the accomplice.’

    Liked by 3 people

    • And I can’t wait to go to every one of these ‘college presentations’ he is thinking of giving on the topics of alcohol use and sexual promiscuity on college campuses. I’m even more ready to hear this warrior’s follow-up talk and stand right there with her, all of us holding every word she speaks.

      Liked by 1 person

  9. Finally able to post but not “like,” or I would be liking almost every comment here.

    moth2flame — keep fighting!!

    Like

    • Always, Meredith W, even when I think I don’t want to. Been on vacation this week, at the beach. Waves and surf are usually my safe place, but they have an allure for the darkness, too. The enchanting idea of going out so far choice is taken from you — just far enough that the tide grabs you and you can’t fight your way back to shore — but I always went to just the edge and then not further. Flirted with the tide pulling me on, thought I wanted it — how easy it could be, right?

      But always… Something keeps me tied to shore. Always reels me back in.

      Someday I will decide if that’s good or bad, but in any case packed up ready to go home today.

      Don’t get me wrong, vacation has been nice, but I don’t seem to get a vacation from my head, ya know? And I want one.

      Liked by 1 person

      • I can understand the attraction to going out and letting go. And it does sound easy, but I don’t think it would be, really. Once you started swallowing water and inhaling it, you would fight back, because you DO want to be here, you belong here, living. But you want to live in the light, and that’s still not completely within your reach.

        It’s a good something that keeps you tied to shore, however tenuous it may feel at times. I believe that with 100% certainty. I will hold space for you until you know it 100% too, no matter how long it takes.

        I don’t get back to this blog as often as I’d like, and my computer is giving me problems with replying and “liking.” so I’m crossing my fingers that this one will work. Even if you don’t see me here, I will be holding space.

        I would like a vacation from my head, too, although my difficulties are not the same as yours. Perhaps some day we could start a Leave Your Head at Home retreat center. Hmmm…that might not be the best was to market it. We can work on that. 🙂

        Hold on.

        Liked by 1 person

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