The court statement of the survivor of the rape that landed its perpetrator, Brock Turner, in jail for just six months — with probation — has received international publicity for its power and eloquence. In it, the 23-year-old survivor describes the devastating impact of the sexual assault on her life, as well as her attempt to relearn a personal identity other than that of “victim” — in a second statement, just released to KTVU Fox 2 through her prosecutor, the survivor expands on her desire to remain anonymous. “I am coming out to you as simply a woman wanting to be heard,” she writes. “For now, I am every woman.” Now, the court statement of her rapist to judge Aaron Persky has been released, as well. Yesterday, the Guardian published parts of Turner’s statement, in which he requests probation rather than jail time — and it’s a breathtaking display of privilege, remorselessness, and failure to take responsibility for his heinous crime.
The mental somersaults Turner performs to convince himself of his blamelessness would be shocking if they were not the same dodges our society makes in order to transfer the fault for sexual assault to survivors — or to anything other than assaulters themselves. “The night of January 17th changed my life and the lives of everyone involved forever,” Turner begins. “I can never go back to being the person I was before that day. I am no longer a swimmer, a student, a resident of California, or the product of the work that I put in to accomplish the goals that I set out in the first nineteen years of my life.”
The self-pity of this opening is echoed throughout Turner’s statement as he describes how thoughts of the “stress” he has caused never leave his mind. “I’ve lost two jobs solely based on the reporting of my case,” Turner continues. “I wish I never was good at swimming or had the opportunity to attend Stanford, so maybe the newspapers wouldn’t want to write stories about me.” Apparently, Turner believes that it’s the reporting of his crimes that’s the problem — that media attention, together with his athletic skill and enrollment at an elite university, is what led him to lose employment, rather than the fact that he raped someone.
This blame-dodging reaches a fever pitch as Turner points the finger at “peer pressure” and “party culture.” “One needs to recognize the influence that peer pressure and the attitude of having to fit in can have on someone. One decision has the potential to change your entire life,” he says. “I know I can impact and change people’s attitudes towards the culture surrounded by binge drinking and sexual promiscuity that protrudes through what people think is at the core of being a college student… I’ve been shattered by the party culture and risk-taking behavior that I briefly experienced in my four months at school.”
Peer pressure doesn’t rape people. Binge drinking doesn’t rape people. “Party culture” doesn’t rape people. Rapists rape people, and Turner is a rapist — just one who categorically refuses to admit that he is. Some one in five women in the U.S. has been sexually assaulted; that’s one among many stats we hear about the prevalence of survivors. What we don’t talk about is the prevalence of sexual assaulters in society, but every sex crime has a perpetrator: For every assault, there is an assaulter, for every rape, a rapist, and responsibility for an attack lies with the attacker and the attacker alone.
In a phone interview with the Guardian, the survivor of Turner’s assault pointed out the threat Turner’s beliefs pose. “People need to know that this way of thinking is dangerous,” she said. “It’s threatening. More than my emotions, it’s my safety, everyone else’s safety. It’s not just me feeling sad and defeated. It’s honest fear… Anger is how a lot of us are expressing it, but it comes from a place of pain. It’s unacceptable. There’s no way you can wiggle out of this.”
source refinery 29