By Jac Morrison
This may be the hardest thing I've ever had to write. Because of that, I'm incapable of flowering it. I can't dust it over with adjectives, can't meander through with metaphors or similes or anything further than the cut and dry. Please forgive me for that.
By now we have all heard the story of Brock Allen Turner, the rapist who was caught violating an intoxicated, unconscious woman behind a dumpster. We have heard about his athletic career, his “generosity,” and how his future is now being dimmed because of, as his father so eloquently put it, “twenty minutes of action”. We have heard his choice to sexually assault a woman incapable of consent be blamed on binge drinking. We’ve been fed the same bullshit we are given every time a white man is accused of rape. He is loved, he is valuable, his future is worth more than that of his victims.
Many of us have become so personally invested in this case that we cannot contain the emotion it invokes.
This is because Brock Allen Turner is not unique.
We have all met him. In bars, at parties, in spaces where we felt safe. We have seen him with his arms around the drunkest girl in the room, waiting for her eyelids begin to droop so he can carry her off and convince himself that she wants him.
Many of us knew that girl.
Many of us were that girl.
I am no exception.
Three years ago I was at a birthday party in a house full of my closest friends. I did not eat dinner. I drank too much whisky. I'd never been so fucked up in my life. I became trapped in the bathroom after getting violently ill; I couldn't get myself up off the floor, I couldn't cry out for help. A friend broke into the bathroom after realizing what had happened. He carried me to the guest bedroom. He tucked me in. He brought me water. He kissed my forehead. He said I'd be alright.
An unknown amount of time later, he came into the room where I was sleeping and raped my immobile body. I will spare you those details.
I woke up with him still next to me, his pants around his ankles. The sun blared through the basement window, lighting up his silhouette and digging into my irises. I felt empty— nothing but a hollow longing for the girl I had fallen asleep as. I felt like a stranger in my own skin.
Friends refused to listen to me. They insisted they'd rather not get involved, that it wasn't their business; as if the violent non-consensual taking of my autonomy was nothing more than a lovers quarrel. I should have known then that they weren't my friends at all. But I didn't. I couldn't. If I didn't have them, I had no one.
I internalized it. Let it gnaw away at my insides. Watched it fester in the pit of my stomach, run through my veins and transform me into someone I didn't recognize. Someone consumed with resentment -- towards myself, towards the friends that betrayed me, towards the man who ruined me. I did things I shouldn't have. I burned bridges. I succumbed to the darkest part of myself.
Fast forward. It is June 2016. I have rebuilt myself. Left behind the friends who refused to stand by me in a hometown I vowed never to return to.
Sometimes, when I've had too much to drink I have fits of unexplainable anxiety. Sometimes I have nightmares of men I trust chasing me through the hallways of my friends houses. Sometimes I become consumed with fear in rooms with people I trust the most. I still cannot go to parties without someone anchored to my side. I still feel broken when I think of what was done to me.
But mostly I have healed.
A powerful statement from Turner’s victim was released shortly after his laughably short sentence was announced, and shortly after I also came out publicly against my rapist. It went viral on social media. CNN had it read on live television. It seemed to be all anyone was talking about for days.
Her honesty was inspiring, but beyond that, her story was painfully relatable. From the violent act itself to the aftermath, so many of us know it too well. Reading her statement and watching the empathy pour out from so many was a pivotal moment for survivors of sexual assault everywhere. Finally our voices were being heard through the vulnerable strength of another survivor.
It took all of my strength to finally admit what had been done to me. I was terrified, rightfully so, and I was crucified by many for speaking up. But beyond the cruelty of those who chose to stay comfortably ignorant, I felt relief.
For everyone who still carries their burden with them wherever they go, for those who want so badly to speak but feel as though they've had their voices stifled, for those who are still gathering the strength to stand up again -- I want you to know your vulnerability is not shameful. Your pain is not your fault. You do not have to carry it with you.
"And finally, to girls everywhere, I am with you. On nights when you feel alone, I am with you. When people doubt you or dismiss you, I am with you. I fought everyday for you. So never stop fighting, I believe you."