Outrage over the Brock Turner verdict is everywhere.
As I sit back and read article after article speaking out against the injustice in this case, I am forced to remember.
I was that girl.
The one who was assaulted while passed out drunk.
I woke up with my pants and underwear around my knees and my shirt under my chin.
In what felt like slow motion, I pulled my clothes on and tried to make sense of where I was. I was so weak.
It took me a few moments to come to and when I did, I realized I was outside. Why was I outside? And where were my shoes? It didn’t make sense. It was January in the midwest and there was snow all over my back.
I went to stand up and felt a shooting pain between my legs.
That’s when I looked over and saw someone throwing up about fifteen feet away.
I struggled to wrap my head around what I thought just happened. I stared at him and I wondered if he had just been inside of me. That’s when a friend came out and helped me in the house.
He said nothing.
Other friends saw that I was covered in snow and wrapped a blanket around me.
They didn’t know where I had gone and asked me what had happened. I didn’t have any answers. I sat there shivering wondering if they all secretly knew something I didn’t. My mind was racing but everything around me was moving so slow.
Eventually I passed out again and woke up the next morning only to realize I never went home.
I knew my mom was going to be pissed.
I had a family party to go to that day and while I was there physically, I was somewhere else mentally.
Bits and pieces of what happened the night before flashed before my eyes. I was numb.
For the next week, I shut down. On three separate occasions, I got in a car to drive to the police station.
But I couldn’t do it.
What if they didn’t believe me? It had been days. I didn’t really remember anything.
I flashed to every Law and Order: Special Victims Unit episode I had ever watched when a woman reported and ended up being the one on trial.
What if they talked to the football player at college that hated me because I wouldn’t sleep with him? He had almost made a career out of spreading rumors about my sexual promiscuity. But they were just that. Rumors.
Other people didn’t know that, though.
A jury wouldn’t know that.
I began to doubt myself even more.
What if I was just drunk and willingly participated, but I didn’t remember? I began to believe that it was all my fault. My boyfriend told me I shouldn’t drink unless he was there with me.
Why didn’t I listen?
Eventually I firmly believed that it was all on me and I vowed to never speak a word of it. To anybody. As time went on, I was able to piece together what happened that night but still, I stuck to my vow and kept it to myself.
It wouldn’t be until almost five months later that I would know without a shadow of a doubt that I was raped that night.
Even then, I couldn’t report. I didn’t want to relive it.
The fear of nobody believing me, having my integrity questioned, and having to recount what I did remember out loud was too much for me.
And I knew I couldn’t bring myself to put a face to the piece of shit that was technically now the father of my baby.
I made a choice at the time that I often find myself wishing I could take back.
I often wonder if there are others because of me. Was I the first? What if I wasn’t the last?
Does it matter that I did what was best for me under those circumstances?
And then I hear cases like this.
The woman that Brock Turner assaulted pressed charges. She fought for almost a year to get a verdict. And because she fought back, he will be a registered sex offender for the rest of his life. But he also should have been put away for a long time so that he couldn’t do what he did to her to anyone else.
Instead, his sentence was made lighter because of his promising future. Because he was an athlete with so much to lose.
I read cases like this and I am mad.
I am mad that I have to remember, I am mad that I did not report, and in this case, I’m mad that a woman much braver than myself did come forward and didn’t get what she deserved.
Unlike me, she has nothing to feel guilty for. She stood up, she fought back, but even then, she did not get justice.
The author of this piece asked to remain anonymous. She wanted to share her story in hopes other women will know they are not alone.
How many more times will justice not be served?
How many other women and men must be violated, and remain scared?
Because verdicts keep sending this kind of message.