At the beginning of the month, breaking news reported that the Stanford swimmer and rapist, Brock Turner, was released from prison after three short months.
Many are familiar with the case having heard the details that the victim shared, or the statement from the rapist’s father stating that he did not want his son’s life ruined over “twenty minutes of action.”
Millions expressed outrage that Turner was suffering little to no consequences for his actions. The public has taken matters into their own hands: punishing Turner by writing rapist with an arrow pointing to his house, standing outside of his house with picket signs, and doing anything within their means to make his life as miserable as he has made his victim’s.
However, one thing that is not being talked about is how often the normal sexual assaulter actually goes to jail. According to Rainn.org, only three out of every hundred people that commit sexual assault, will be behind bars.
Putting that number aside, 54 percent of rapes go entirely unreported. Every two minutes, an American is sexually assaulted. About 750,000 citizens of the United States were sexually assaulted or raped last year. Of these assaults, only 344 of every 1,000 are actually reported.
It may seem ridiculous not to report something so serious; however, the reasons victims give for not reporting are quite valid.
The reasons range from fearing retaliation, believing it was not important enough to report, not wanting their rapist to get in trouble, or worse, believing that the police would not do anything to help. A large portion of American victims believe that their judicial system would fail to validate and serve justice for their rape. Turner’s case is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the problem.
So why are people so obsessed with punishing Turner? It would seem that many believe that since the judicial system won’t serve justice, and it is their responsibility to do so. However, people must remember that punishing Turner will do nothing to help the millions of other victims that will never see their rape brought to justice. The problem does not end with punishing Turner; it is only beginning to be solved.
The big question here is: so what can the average person do? It can start by simply validating a friend’s feelings when they trust you enough to share the story of their assault. People can express to their peers that they are someone to trust and confide in. Help friends realize what consent is. More importantly, speak up when you see behavior that is not consensual. Be an advocate for those who have been a victim of sexual assault and speak where their words fail them.
Recognizing the problem is a huge step, and once we can recognize that America has a problem, we can begin to fix it. Until then, stop being a part of the problem. Uplift the victims, rather than trying to tear down the perpetrators.