I am a mother and friend, but would I do anything to save my son after he sexually assaulted a woman? This is the question I believe all mothers need to ask themselves, and is ‘saving’ your child helping them or additionally hurting them and the person they’ve victimized?
I cannot begin to imagine how Emily Doe and her parents felt when they heard Judge Persky’s statement about the “severe” impact that prison would have on Brock after being convicted of sexual assault with intent to commit rape. The judge's "I don’t think he’s a danger to anyone" had to be a knife through their hearts. What about being a danger to Emily Doe the night he raped her? Did the judge not factor that in?
How does a young woman who was sexually penetrated and left behind a dumpster live with that? How will she and young women everywhere start to believe that college campuses are safe places for them if judges are more concerned for the rapist than the victim?
Given Judge Persky’s prison sentence for Brock Turner, why would any victim of rape ever come forward again at Stanford University or any other college campus when their voices and even eyewitness accounts are dismissed so carelessly, and the rapist receives the equivalent of a summer camp stay in a county jail?
But I digress -- I’m still waiting for Brock Turner’s mother to speak up about what she will personally do to make sure that campus sexual assault and rape does not happen to another Emily Doe, who was on the night of her rape the same age as Brock's older sister.
If Carleen Turner is like her husband or their friend, she may be doing anything to save her son, covering for him because it’s too difficult to face the truth about your own son’s sexual behavior, blaming alcohol for it, blaming fraternity parties, blaming promiscuity, but what is she really saying to young women, including her own daughter, about victims of rape?
Your voice doesn't matter.
Since this story has gone viral, her son’s name and picture are now plastered all over the Internet, her husband’s character statement to the judge forever part of public record and public scrutiny. Just "20 minutes of action," Dan Turner wrote in his request for leniency for his convicted 20-year-old son. The audacity and the infamy of that statement likely stabs at every mother's heart, Brock's mother, Carleen, at the top of the list. But what can she do about it now? How could she use her son's infamy to help Emily Doe and all women like her? What would I do if I were standing in Carleen Turner's horribly squeaky shoes?
Would I talk to high school and college students about the percentages of rape on campus and off campus? Would I tell them that 23% of female students are sexually assaulted on campuses every year, yet those numbers are drastically low according to two Mother Jones’ articles stating that sexual assault on or near college campuses have reached epidemic levels and that authorities don't receive accurate information from schools? Would I tell them that it's because victims of sexual assault are too afraid to speak out against their attackers, too busy blaming themselves, so the true number of sexual assaults are vastly under reported?
Would I meet with rape victims and form an organization that supports their recovery? Would I ask my son to do the same? Would I tell my son that in order to truly help him, first he and I must admit that what he did was not consensual, what he did was rape and that’s why a jury convicted him. But that would require a mother and a son to openly admit that he raped an unconscious woman. It might also entail both a mother and a son giving thanks to the two eye-witnesses that put a stop to the rape. Could Carleen and Dan Turner and their son, Brock, ever find the courage and decency to thank those Swedish Stanford grad students?
I look over and see both my young son and soon-to-be teenage daughter doing homework, just a few days now left in their school year, and I think about that sentence again and again.
"As a mother and friend, I would do anything to help my child and save him.”
How will I help educate my children about campus sexual assault? What will I do differently starting today? Will I teach my daughter about what it means to give consent? Do I share with her Emily Doe’s statement? Will I talk to her about the statistics? That at least 1 out of every 5 female students will be sexually assaulted or raped at colleges this year, and 1 out of every 3 college seniors will become victims? I say to myself, yes. YES.
And my son, do I keep quiet and let his father handle that conversation when he too turns thirteen? Because it’s uncomfortable for a mother to talk to her son about his sexual urges, right? My answer changes, No. I don’t care how uncomfortable it is! I need to have that conversation with my son in three years with or without my husband. I need to have that talk many, many times throughout puberty and into his young adult life. I need for him to also hear Emily Doe’s voice and what she wrote to her young attacker. I need to tell my son that I will not “save” him should he decide to sexually violate another person, whether he’s been drinking alcohol or not.
A son's actions must speak louder than his words, but his victim’s words must speak louder than everyone else’s.