Brock Turner and Changing How We Look at Sexual Assault


Megan Snyder, News Editor

I’m sure you’re tired of seeing or reading about Brock Turner, the Stanford swimmer rapist who assaulted a young woman one night behind a dumpster and only spent three months of his six-month jail sentence behind bars. He’s been in the news all summer and now that his sentence has been completed he’s showed up in the media once again. With all of the conversation surrounding him and his ultra-lenient sentence, I understand why you would be annoyed reading yet another article about the man who raped a woman and got away with it. You’ve probably read, or at the very least seen, several angry articles directed towards Turner. Maybe you even read the powerful and emotional letter that the victim wrote to her attacker. You’re probably tired of being forced to think about this gross injustice that occurred within the United States justice system and the trauma that the victim will have to live with for the rest of her life, all because Judge Persky was afraid too harsh of a sentence for Turner would negatively impact his life.


While I could continue to write angrily about Turner and Persky, there are already plenty of articles that articulate those angry feelings. What I want to bring to light is the conversation that our country has been having about sexual assault the past few months because of all the media attention Turner has been receiving. All the pervasive articles that have been written and that have been flooding your screens for the past few months may be overwhelming but they’re important. They shed light on a subject that many people don’t want to talk about and a culture that allows rapists to walk free after three months in jail and leaves victims to suffer through their horrifying experience on their own. This system that tells victims that in order for anything to be done they must file a report but when a victim goes through the painful ordeal of prosecuting her attacker, the justice system fails her. A statistic on the RAINN website states that out of every 1000 rape cases, 994 of those rapists will walk free. The victims of these will never have justice and will be forced to live with what has happened to them for the rest of their lives.

I could give harrowing statistics all day long but I know that in order for any change to truly come about conversations need to be had and action needs to be taken. The way sexual assault and sexual assault victims are talked about and treated needs to change and the way we discuss the perpetrators of these crimes needs to change as well. We have to stop finding excuses to justify sexual assault and instead give the victims the support and care they need. In the letter the Stanford victim wrote to Turner, she called for change in the way sexual assault is handled:

The seriousness of rape has to be communicated clearly; we should not create a culture that suggests we learn that rape is wrong through trial and error.”

Foster change and take action by getting involved with organizations like Centers Against Abuse and Sexual Assault (CAASA) or simply transform the way you discuss sexual assault. Call out people who victim-blame. Participate in groups who are working to change how sexual assault and perpetrators are treated within the courts. Lastly, be a support system and a listening ear for those who need it and fight for justice for those who have been hurt but are still carrying their burden silently.

Header photo by Justice Gage