"The camera is an instrument that teaches people how to see without a camera." - Dorothea Lange

Saturday, June 11, 2016

can't stop thinking about brock turner and the woman he raped

Everyone is weighing in on the Brock Turner horror story. Open letters here, open letters there, open letters everywhere. I’ve actually been pretty obsessed - reading every single thing I can get my eyeballs on. Rather than write my own open letter to those whose hearts have been broken and whose lives have been shattered, I thought I’d cull some of the more profound quotes from these letters/statements and present them as a collage. Yes, I chose the quotes and the order in which I assembled them. It’s the best way I seem able to express myself about it all right now.

But don't you also agree that this whole thing could have been avoided if she had just been more responsible?

I wonder… if I get raped when I’m wearing this tonight, how guilty would it make me? Like maybe they should mark it on the tag: 60% cotton, 40% her fault.

I still have an image of the assailant right before he tried to kiss me earlier in the evening; the face of the man who assaulted my sister, is burned in my memory.

I naively assumed that is was accepted to be intimate with someone in a place that wasn’t my room.

I asked her if she was enjoying what I was doing, to which she gave me a positive response.

We saw that she was not moving, while he was moving a lot. So we stopped and thought, this is very strange. She lay perfectly still.

I had to read about the way my sister’s body was found. I realized that the reason I could not find her that night, after checking every room in the fraternity house, after yelling her name outside, was because she had been unconscious and hidden behind a dumpster. That she was naked from the waist down.

My clothes were confiscated and I stood naked while the nurses held a ruler to various abrasions on my body and photographed them. The three of us worked to comb the pine needles out of my hair, six hands to fill one paper bag. To calm me down, they said it’s just the flora and fauna, flora and fauna. I had multiple swabs inserted into my vagina and anus, needles for shots, pills, had a Nikon pointed right into my spread legs. I had long, pointed beaks inside me and had my vagina smeared with cold, blue paint to check for abrasions.

My son has never been violent to anyone including his actions on the night of January 17, 2015.

But where do we draw the line and stop worrying about being politically correct every second of the day and see that rape on campuses isn't always because people are rapists?

I am not just a drunk victim at a frat party found behind a dumpster, while you are the All­ American swimmer at a top university, innocent until proven guilty, with so much at stake. I am a human being who has been irreversibly hurt.

I do not know your name — but I know that a lot of people failed you that terrible January night and in the months that followed.

In newspapers my name was “unconscious intoxicated woman”, ten syllables, and nothing more than that. For a while, I believed that that was all I was. I had to force myself to relearn my real name, my identity.

I do not know your name — but I see your unconquerable spirit.

I understand you trying to humanize your son in your letter; talking to the judge about his favorite snacks and swim practice and about the memories that are sweet for you as his father—but to be honest I don’t give a damn and if his victim was your daughter I’m quite sure you wouldn’t either.

Brock has a lot at stake so he’s having a really hard time right now.

And to be clear, Mr. Turner, alcohol and sexual promiscuity are not the story here. The story here is that young men have choices to make and these choices define them, even if those choices are made when temptation is great and opportunity is abundant. In fact, our humanity is most expressed when faced with such things, we choose integrity and decency; when we abstain from doing what is easy but wrong.

His dreams have been shattered by this.

You love your son and you should. But love him enough to teach him to own the terrible decisions he’s made, to pay the debt to society as prescribed, and then to find a redemptive path to walk, doing the great work in the world that you say he will.

That is a steep price to pay for 20 minutes of action out of his 20-plus years of life.


His life will never be the one that he dreamed about and worked so hard to achieve.

A life, one life, yours, you forgot about mine.

You are not just contributing to rape culture, Mr. Turner. You ARE rape culture.

I do feel for you, Mr. Turner. It's not easy admitting that your son is a monster, but for the sake of the world, and for the sake of the countless young women who have been violated by frat boys just like Brock Turner, it's time that you take on that burden.

I join your global chorus of supporters, because we can never say enough to survivors: I believe you. It is not your fault. What you endured is never, never, never, NEVER a woman’s fault.

My first thought upon wakening every morning is “this isn’t real, this can’t be real. Why him? Why HIM? WHY? WHY?

Brock always enjoyed certain types of food and is a very good cook himself. I was always excited to buy him a big ribeye steak to grill or to get his favorite snack for him. I had to make sure to hide some of my favorite pretzels or chips because I knew they wouldn't be around long after Brock walked in from a long swim practice. Now he barely consumes any food and eats only to exist.

I tried to push it out of my mind, but it was so heavy I didn’t talk, I didn’t eat, I didn’t sleep, I didn’t interact with anyone.

He will never be his happy go lucky self with that easy going personality and welcoming smile. His every waking minute is consumed with worry, anxiety, fear, and depression. You can see it in his face, the way he walks, his weakened voice.

My independence, natural joy, gentleness, and steady lifestyle I had been enjoying became distorted beyond recognition.

His dreams have been shattered by this.

I can’t sleep alone at night without having a light on, like a five-year-old.

I beg of you, please don’t send him to jail/prison. Look at him. He won’t survive it. He will be damaged forever.

He is not the victim, and the sooner you stop treating him as such, the sooner he may realize the impact he had on an innocent young woman’s life. Your attempt at marginalizing your son’s assault only ensures another young man will do the same.

His voice is barely above a whisper and he keeps himself hunched over almost trying not to be noticed.

He is a lifetime sex registrant. That doesn’t expire. Just like what he did to me doesn’t expire, doesn’t just go away after a set number of years. It stays with me, it’s part of my identity, it has forever changed the way I carry myself, the way I live the rest of my life.

I know what a broken heart feels like. It is a physical pain that starts just below the collarbone and extends to below the ribcage, it is a crushing and heavy ache that feels like I am being squeezed. This feeling has not left my body since the verdict. This verdict has destroyed us.

You are part of the rape culture, Mr. Turner. You are the problem.

The damage is done, no one can undo it. And now we both have a choice. We can let this destroy us, I can remain angry and hurt and you can be in denial, or we can face it head on, I accept the pain, you accept the punishment, and we move on.

He is gifted in his ability to understand very complicated subject matter.

I want to be a voice of reason in a time where people’s attitudes and preconceived notions about partying and drinking have already been established. I want to let young people now, as I did not, that things can go from fun to ruined in just one evening.

My beautiful, happy family will never know happiness again.

No longer can we blame our kids’ poor decisions on violent video games, rap music or films that glorify criminal behavior. It comes down to us, the parents, Mr. Turner. It’s up to you to help your son see his wrongdoings, and give some semblance of closure to his victim.

The millions who have been touched by your story will never forget you.

The only sorrow I feel for you is that you never got to know my sister before you assaulted her. She’s the most wonderful person in the world.

I sleep with two bicycles that I drew taped above my bed to remind myself there are heroes in this story.

Your bravery is breathtaking.

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