Now we can add David Becker, an 18-year-old Massachusetts student to the list of privileged white boys convicted of rape who don't get sentences that make sense. MassLive.com
I don't even want to get into the details as I find this all so completely depressing. Google him. Talk about the injustice. Talk about the victims. Create a culture where they are respected and their "college experience" is untainted by rape. Work on a future where the victims of rape actually receive recognition and justice instead of condemnation and insults.
I'm so done with this shit.
The latest duo that have illustrated exactly how prevalent and damaging rape culture continues to be in our society are Austin Wilkerson and Judge Patrick Butler, of Colorado.
Austin Wilkerson, a student at the University of Colorado-Boulder, told people he would "take care of" a fellow female student who was inebriated. Instead, he raped her while she couldn't maintain consciousness. He was convicted of his crime.
This is important.
Wilkerson was convicted.
Judge Butler however, decided not to send our poor little rapist to prison even though in Colorado his conviction would carry a sentence of four years to life in prison. Instead, he decided that two years of work release and twenty years probation was enough. Again the argument by Wilkerson's supporters was that HE had suffered enough and his future life shouldn't be negatively impacted by this one event.
Again the focus was on what would happen to the perpetrator, not what has happened to the victim who has admitted that she has been physically, psychologically and financially traumatized. But that didn't matter to the judge who ignored prosecutors pre-sentencing memo stating that Wilkerson has shown absolutely no remorse and changed his story as needed.
How many times is the future of the criminal going to trump the future of the victim in our court system? How many times is the victim going to be re-victimized by the trial that questions whether or not she deserved or invited what was done to her (or in many cases, him)? How many times are we going to be outraged, with no options other than to sign petititions and continue to rail against his vile reality. How many more times am I going to open Facebook and discovered it has happened again?
Fucking end this people. Just fucking end this.
I promise that at some point I will go back to reviewing super hero stories or babbling about Doctor Who or Sci-Fi books I've loved for years... But right now I'm going to talk about something most people don't want to discuss. And even less people want to hear. Especially from a stranger.
I am a sexual abuse survivor.
You can use the word victim if you like. I try not to "feel like a victim" on a regular basis. But it is always there. I do prefer to use the term survivor when I think of it though.
My story is not unusual. But it is long. When I was nine my mother met the man who would become her second husband. I would rather not call him "step-father" as he was not at all parental. They were married very shortly after my parents' divorce was finalized and my mother was in fact pregnant at the time. Also, their little wedding was in the living room of our house, and two days after my tenth birthday if I recall.
Make note of that age. Ten. I was ten-year-old.
The abuse in the household started virtually immediately. He would throw my pregnant mother around, spank my six-year-old sister excessively, and make sure to catch me changing. He would tell me we needed to conserve water, so we would have to shower together. My mother's second husband, made his new step-daughter shower with him.
Around the same time they got married, I started my period for the first time, and right out of the gate that was a horrible experience with debilitating cramps that nothing would help. I was also in severe physical pain all the time (later found out that was stress and depression). He would offer to give me back rubs. These massages included my breasts, ass, and right up to the edges of my panties. He was particularly fond of a black turtleneck shirt I'd been given in a hand-me-down bag and told me that if I ever wanted to seduce a man, I should wear that... I was 11.
This man never penetrated me, he exposed himself to me, touched me, isolated me, terrified me, and was actively grooming me. But I knew he was wrong. I knew he was a monster. I'd bar my door the best I could (wasn't allowed a lock) and almost never slept. One night after witnessing him violently abuse my mother again and scare my younger siblings, I almost killed him, but I was afraid I'd go to jail and my mother wouldn't be able to take care of the little ones.
Eventually he left, we kicked him out, but even in that last day he made me walk him to the car, and for a year afterward he stalked me. I was 15-years-old.
I reported the abuse. The exposures, the showers, the comments, the touching... I spent hours in court hallways and being interviewed in rooms with cameras. Ultimately, my case was "Closed, unfounded" because he was friends with people in the court system. And I learned right there, there was no point in saying anything.
In high school after I moved from that house to live with my father, I met a tall and dashing boy who wowed me with his martial arts skills and sexy car. He also called me a tease and tried to take my clothes off and said he deserved it. I locked myself in the bathroom until he stopped banging on the door. I don't remember how I got home.
Luckily later in high school I did date a couple of wonderful boys who were not monsters. My sophomore year I learned what it is like to bond over being geeks and had a fantastically fun and rather innocent relationship with someone who continues to be a great friend and got himself a wonderful life with love and adventure and a gorgeous kitty. My junior year I dated a wonderful person for a little while who was way ahead of his years when it came to relationships and sex. I wish I had treated him better and I hope that his life turned out to be everything he wanted and that he has a fantastic partner and maybe some kids and a job he loves and that he's still rocking a colourful mohawk.
In college I was a "party animal" and was still trying to process the years of molestation and the anger boys would show if I didn't "give them what they wanted." I think I was also starting to try to understand my own innate sexual nature.
I understand not all people are sexual or sensual. And that's fine, I am a sex positive person, I want everyone to have the CONSENSUAL sex that they want and need to feel fulfilled. Even if that's no sex or not much sex, or a whole lot of cuddling. I happen to not be entirely straight and have known that most of my life (first girl crushes; Barbara Eden, Elizabeth Montgomery, Kirstie Alley). I also really like sex when I'm in on it. It can be fun and funny and satisfying and intimate and all sorts of good things. As long as everyone is on the same page of course.
So I made some choices in college I wouldn't have made if I'd been older and wiser, which I'm pretty sure everyone who has ever gone to college can say. I destroyed some relationships because as much as I wanted to be close, my body and mind were still so damaged and reactionary, I didn't know how to act with kindness toward myself or my partners. I was burning through the pain and causing more pain. But this in no way excuses the person I thought was a friend, drugging me and letting his friends do what they want.
I had gone to a frat one night, a place I'd been to a dozen times before. A place where I had a friend, or thought I did, who respected me and would keep me safe. But that night, it all changed. I know I drank too much. That was fairly common at the time. I was still maintaining my grades and taking two entire majors and working at campus jobs. I remember sitting in the little seating area of a crowded room, on the table because there was no where else and I didn't want to sit on a stranger's lap. I remember the feeling of the cold bottle of beer in my hand. This was more than twenty years ago, yet I remember it. I remember the lighting in the room and how random things stood out and others were completely obscured. I remember the sheet hanging from the wall, hiding one corner of the room. I remember my friend saying something about how lucky they were I showed up because they could have some fun. I vaguely remember being guided behind that sheet, confused and tired, and a pledge being told he could have me. And I remember waking up next to a complete stranger, naked, laying on top of a jumble of his clothing and mine, and possibly other people's as well. I lost an earring. I picked up what I could find and got dressed and tip toed out of that room, down the hall, down the stairs and out the door to the bright sunlight. And I went back to my dorm and I took the hottest shower. And I said nothing. But I never went back to that frat.
Why didn't I say anything?
Because why should I? I was drinking. I went there voluntarily. HE WAS MY FRIEND. Who would believe me? No one did anything when my mother's husband molested me for five years, what would benefit from trying to say anything about one drunken night that was probably "my fault" anyway? So I never said anything, and I tried to forget. And then years later someone made a very poor "roofie" joke and I almost burst into tears. It's still there. Still lurking in the dark. That violation has become part of my reality.
And then I got married.
You'd think that there'd be a time limit on how long you let past violations affect your behavior. And maybe there is. But for each individual that time limit is different. Turns out for me, it was thirty years.
My marriage was challenged by the start, but within the first few years there were signs. I rarely wanted sex after we were married because I was so stressed all the time over money or health insurance or how he was treating me. I didn't "feel sexy." I felt tired and confused and put upon and unhappy. And there was the afternoon he flipped me on my stomach and took me. Not in a hot sexy romantic "this is what we're doing!" kind of awesome way. No. In a silent, "I don't care if you want this I'm taking it" kind of way that left me crying into the mattress. That's rape. I didn't fight back, I couldn't. He's 14" taller than I am. Later on in our marriage as things got worse he would offer me a back rub so he could masturbate on me. The sound of his zipper would make my stomach hurt. He would push me against the counter in the kitchen and grind himself against me. He would tell me he had needs and I wasn't helping him. And accuse me of cheating on him. He would tell me about the young girls he saw at work and that they were dressing like whores and trying to get his attention. Trust me when I say, that's not true. He was slut shaming and objectifying women everywhere, and I was raising our daughter, terrified of what he would teach her about her body and her self worth. Eventually I left him.
Much too late, but I did leave.
In the couple of years since I left him, I did end up in one more relationship that had abusive tendencies. He was a narcissist and sex addict. But it took me much less time to recognize the signs and I cut it off. And now, at 41, I finally feel strong enough to see when a person is being predatory and manipulative and abusive. Thirty years after my mother's husband started grooming me, I am shaking off the effects. Thirty fucking years.
So... With that in mind, I read the reports of Brock Turner's unbelievably short sentence and I rage. His victim has not been considered at all in his sentencing. Her damages, her trials, her lingering affects, not recognized by the very system that should be getting her justice. I read about Alexander Rodriquez and Austin WIlkerson and wonder if rape is taken seriously at all and I want to scream and find the judges and shake them.
I will speak frankly about my own experiences so that those who read this don't forget. And because one of the main problems around rape and sexual abuse and assault is that people don't understand how it happens and what it looks like. It isn't always a stranger behind a dumpster. It can be the monster you live with. Rape is rape is rape and rapists are rapists are rapists. The actions and the environments may change, but the results are the same. Someone chose a target, and someone was a target. And the victims need to be heard.
Let me introduce you to Alexander Rodriquez, 34, from Tennessee.
He's a (former) school bus driver who has admitted to raping a 15-year-old student. Not only did he rape her, he kidnapped her, moved her from the location of the assault (a motel), ordered her to lie to police if questioned, and told her during the assault he was trying to hurt her. WTVC
Guess how much prison time Rodriquez will be serving?
Initially Rodriquez was sentenced to four years, but his attorney, Johnny Houston, argued that the victim had "credibility issues." Distractify
Let that sink in for a minute. A 15-year-old girl was taken to multiple locations, raped in a motel room by a man who admitted he wanted to hurt her, and the attorney argued she had credibility issues because the "evidence" didn't support her claim that the oral sex was forced. Did he expect her to have black eyes and a broken nose, or ripped lips, or teeth knocked out, in order to believe that a man more than twice her age forced her, in an unfamiliar place, to do things she didn't want to do?
Oh and not to mention Rodriquez had "already served 100 days in jail." He will spend 10 years on probation with a GPS monitor. She will spend the rest of her life processing what happened to her.
Again, the victim is re-victimized by the justice system. And the worst part is, this is no longer surprising, at all.
She's a 15-year-old girl. Fifteen. Year. Old. Girl.
Fuck you Johnny Houston. Fuck you Alexander Rodriquez. Fuck you judge who let this sentence happen. Fuck you all for continuing the culture of rape and rape apologists, and victim shaming and all the bullshit that has failed this girl.
I am furious, steaming mad, and shaking with rage over the Brock Turner case. But I don't want anyone to forget the case of the 11-year-old girl gang raped in a small Texas town in 2010 and how the media, the town, AND THE INVESTIGATORS questioned what could have drawn the men (21 of them) involved into such an act. The girl was reported as "dressing older than her age" and hanging out in more dangerous parts of town. In short, she was asking for it. ELEVEN YEARS OLD.
Every single man involved was convicted. Every single one. But even with video evidence of the crime, SHE WAS SHAMED and those "poor boys" were excused for so long it took well over a year to finally sentence the last of them.
I am very happy that Brock Turner's victim has been strong enough to say the things that needed to be said about what it means to be so violated. Victims are consistently re-violated by the system and the media. Rape is the least reported of violent crimes, and the least understood by anyone who hasn't been impacted by this atrocity.
I don't want anyone to forget the women who won't, can't or haven't yet reported their assault. Or the men who struggle with the same decision. I don't want anyone to forget that rape is NOT ABOUT SEX. This isn't about attraction. It is about power, control, access.
I don't want anyone to forget that you probably know a victim of sexual assault if you are blessed enough to have not experienced this violation personally. Actually, I can confirm that if you are reading this, you are familiar with a victim of sexual assault.
I don't want anyone to forget that if someone uses claims of rape to get back at someone, THAT DOES NOT INVALIDATE ANYONE ELSE'S EXPERIENCE! Just as MRA's and apologists are quick as bunnies to spout "Not all men!" MOST women who report rape, the vast majority of the vast minority of actual victims, HAVE BEEN ASSAULTED and each and every account should be taken just as seriously as any other reported crime.
I am angry and I am frustrated and I am DONE!
I am DONE with people so quick to judge the woman who drank too much, while excusing the man, because he was drunk.
I am DONE with warnings to women to not walk alone or leave a drink unattended or show too much skin.
I am DONE with people judging a woman's worth or intentions when she dresses for attention. Or for damn comfort.
I am so fucking DONE with "what was she expecting?"
She was expecting to go dancing, or hook up, or get to her car, or go home to her kids, or go food shopping, or get blind fucking drunk, or just make it through a day.
She was NOT expecting to be raped by a friend, a first date, a boyfriend, a stranger, a gang, a husband, a family member, a teacher, a preacher, a counselor...
No one deserves to be violated. Ever! A rapist is a rapist is a rapist. The victim was the target, not the cause.
If you haven't heard of the Brock Allen Turner rape case, Google "Stanford Rape Victim Letter" and be prepared to be very very angry. If you have heard of this case, on top of all the high profile rape cases of the last several years, you will understand the inspiration for the following.
I have a daughter. Currently she is six-years-old. She is my only child. The only child I will ever have from my body. She is my light and love and life. She is the person who taught me what love is. She is the reason I left my husband and have worked so fucking hard to make myself a healthier, happier, more complete human. She is outgoing and brave and fast. She is annoying and intrusive and doesn't respect anyone's privacy but her own. She can talk non-stop, or not at all. She has ADHD and impulse control issues. She is going to be taller than I am, soon.
She is being picked on at school by a boy in her class.
If anyone tells me, or her, that any boy teases, pushes, pokes, pinches, harasses, annoys, bothers, verbally denigrates or otherwise hurts my little girl, is doing it because "he likes her"... I will get violent.
That attitude, that boys hurt the girls they like, that's the very first step toward the culture that allows a convicted rapist to be sentenced to THREE MONTHS of jail IN PROTECTIVE CUSTODY because his life shouldn't be too harshly affected by his "mistake."
That attitude, that boys hurt the girls they like, that is the beginning of the lifetime of conditioning that men receive that tells them if they want something, they get it.
That attitude, that boys hurt the girls they like, that "boys will be boys" is why rape victims are asked "What were you doing? What were you wearing? Why were you out alone? Why did you drink alcohol? Do you have sex? Do you have a boyfriend? Do you have sex with your boyfriend? Do you cheat?" And on and on and on...
That attitude is why rape victims are victimized over and over and over.
That attitude is why rape is vastly under reported.
Men and boys are not the default, the desired, the primo members of society. They share this planet with women and girls. They are responsible for their actions in the world and to the people around them. THEY ARE RESPONSIBLE FOR THEIR ACTIONS. They are not gods. They need to know that if they want something, and they can not have it, it is not theirs for the taking. INCLUDING PEOPLE! Women and girls are not put on this earth to satisfy the desires of men and boys. We are here together. We are in this together.
Ever hear the phrase "fake it 'til you make it?" How about the concept of acting something until it becomes natural? Like faking confidence for public speaking until it becomes easy?
Men... Especially those men who have this idea that they are allowed access to anything their greedy little hearts desire... WE ARE IN THIS WORLD TOGETHER. Fucking act like it. Act like you understand that women have autonomy. Act like you respect those around you to have their own lives, their own desires, their own accountability. Act like if there is an incapacitated human being, you will protect that person from harm, even if there is a part of you that is horny and frustrated. Act like the hero that person needs. Act like this until you feel it. Act like this until you believe it. Act like this until it is TRUE.
Do not "act out."
I'm Kirsten. Some things you could label me with; tattooed, geek, mama, animal lover, weirdo, nerd, writer, movie and TV addict, lazy, ambitious, insomniac, feminist, LGBTQ+.