Dear Brock Turner,
You were released from jail this morning.
You stepped outside into the cool Santa Clara air, your tall frame slightly hunched, your shoulders angled away from the barrage of photographers, your belongings in a paper bag tucked under your arm.
You got into an SUV which, presumably, drove you to a hotel, or to the airport. I don’t know.
And now you’re wherever you are, safe. You’re probably sleeping, or eating, or watching television, or standing in line at the airline gate. Maybe you’re crying. Maybe you’re relieved. Maybe you’re wondering if people will recognize you.
Maybe you’re numb.
Maybe you’re thinking about the three months you spent in jail. Maybe you’re replaying that night over and over in your head. Maybe you’re worrying about your probation, or what life will look like now that you’re a life-long registered sex offender. Maybe you’re thankful that you got out of jail early, having served only half of your original sentence.
Maybe you’re not thinking at all.
But you’re wherever you are. Not in jail.
And we are here.
We are sitting at our desks, stomachs in knots. We are silently crying, tears running down our cheeks in hot streams. We are reliving our own trauma.
We are numb, or sad, or scared.
And we are thinking about the prisons that people like you built around us when you raped us.
When you assaulted her, you built a wall around her. You layered her in your grime, your ignorance, your forcefulness, your own emotional ineptitude. You covered her in shame. You infused her with anger and self-doubt and fear.
And it will take counseling and strength she didn’t know she possessed to reach through the bars and step out of that prison you built.
She didn’t deserve it. I didn’t deserve it.
But, even though you ruined her, even though you’ll be with her forever, even though she didn’t ask for this, she’ll prevail. She’ll find in herself in pieces and she’ll stitch herself back together with help from people who love her. And it will be long and painstaking and the stitching will hurt so much that she’ll feel like she can’t do it anymore, but she’ll emerge stronger.
Because, honestly, you do not define her, or us, or anyone. You are not an exception. You are not a “former swimmer,” or a “talented athlete,” or a “smart young man.”
You, Brock Turner, are a rapist.
You may never understand the magnitude of what you’ve done. You certainly didn’t receive the sentence you deserved, and you showed very little remorse during your trial. At least that’s what I’ve gathered from media coverage.
But I hope you do. I hope one day the weight of it hits you full-force, and you realize the damage you’ve caused.
You have your whole life ahead of you. You don’t deserve it, but you have it. I hope you use it to do something, to learn something, to be better.
I hope you’ll be better.
I hope our justice system will change. I hope that rapists like you are no longer allowed to walk free after serving only half of their disgustingly short sentences. I hope judges like Aaron Persky are no longer allowed to hand down these sentences. I hope that, if you have a son, you teach him not to rape instead of warning him against the “dangers of alcohol.” I hope you’ll decide not to appeal your guilty verdict.
Realistically, I don’t expect you to take any extra steps, because I haven’t seen any evidence that you will. What I expect is that you will fall into the lowest common denominator of humans, that you will appeal your guilty verdict, and that you won’t have learned very much at all.
But even if you take the easy way out and don’t own up to your actions, I still have hope.
Despite you, Brock Turner, I have hope.
I hope that the conversation surrounding rape and sexual violence will continue to grow louder and clearer. I hope for better outcomes in trials. I hope for continued support and healing for men and women who have experienced sexual assault.
I hope for better.
I just hope.