Sexual assault and rape on college campuses can be something most incoming freshmen are unaware of.
Before college, how much did we really know about consent or respecting each others bodies?
Brock Turner, a student athlete at Stanford University, sexually assaulted an unconscious woman behind a dumpster of a near fraternity on campus on Jan. 18, 2015. The victim was 23-years-old and accompanying her younger sister to a party. She was left there on the ground like roadkill. Covered in abrasions, blood and pine needles. She discovered what had happened to her from the news.
To the world, she was the “unconscious intoxicated woman.”
The defendant, was a star-athlete and a first-time offender which impacted his jail time significantly. He was originally indicted for rape of an intoxicated person and rape of an unconscious person before those charges were withdrawn by the prosecution. He was found guilty of the remaining felony charges: sexual penetration of an unconscious person, sexual penetration of an intoxicated woman and assault with intent to commit rape.
The judge sentenced him to six months and Turner was released after three months for good behavior with a lifetime registration as a sex offender. The outcome left many people furious about the judge’s sentencing.
How is three months enough time to judge someone for good behavior for a crime like this?
This case has recently reappeared in the news due to the victim then Emily Doe, now revealing her identity as Chanel Miller. Her powerful victim impact statement went viral for its detailed message and emotional narrative. After its full publication by Buzzfeed, it had 8 million views in just three days.
Cases like these happen very often on college campuses. Some victims might be ashamed, confused or have fear of being blamed for what had happened to them.
Many times, that goes without saying, victims may choose not to report. According to the Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network, only 20% of female student victims, age 18-24, report to law enforcement.
A common misconception of victims of sexual assault is that they were asking for it. There is absolutely no exception for raping or sexually assaulting someone, period.
Some people will question what the victim was wearing or if they were too intoxicated to justify the assault. This is just one of the many stigmas against sexual assault victims that can effect their decision in choosing to stay quiet.
“It’s a pretty scary experience and anytime someone experiences trauma, it’s hard to step outside of the emotional capacity of that,” said Title IX coordinator, Butterfly Blaise.
What’s most important is making sure the victim has all the support they need.
In the past few years, we’ve seen women coming together to share their stories and experiences that have influenced others to speak out. The #MeToo movement has had a positive impact in our society by standing up against sexual assault and rape.
“It’s empowered people to come forward,” Blaise said. “It has given a voice to people who have experienced violence and its shifted the way in which were having conversations about sexual and interpersonal violence.”
Since the case, Miller has written a memoir called “Know My Name,” about how the rape had impacted in her life. The book will be released Sept. 24.
For Chanel Miller to publicly tell the world what she has been through, shows how strong survivors of sexual assault really are.
“You don’t know me, but you’ve been inside me,” Miller said in her 7,318 word victim impact statement.
College campus sexual violence is preventable. We are surrounded by resources now more than ever. If victims want to stay anonymous while reporting and dealing with the aftermath, there are options for that as well. No victim should have to deal with it alone or in the public eye.
“My role is not to tell people what to do or how to do it, or when they should speak out or how they should speak out, it’s just to present them with all the options and support them with whichever choices they decide to make,” said Blaise.
Sexual assault and rape is very real in our generation. Anyone who has suffered through it deserves to have the opportunity to speak about it.