Jesus said a thing, and it applies to how we treat immigrants and refugees

 

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How can you claim Him but deny those He told you to care for?

In discussions about the way the USA treats immigrants and refugees, I regularly hear people who claim to be Christians say things like “well, maybe they shouldn’t be breaking the law coming here as illegal immigrants. Mary and Joseph didn’t break the law, so them fleeing a violent and oppressive regime to become refugees elsewhere is totally different.”

Ooooooh honey. No no no. There is so much there that you are getting wrong.

This is the comment I left in response to a comment along those lines today. And because I see this used as an excuse allll the time, I’m going to expand on it.

“There is so much wrong with that, both factually and logically.

1. Refugees are also being treated terribly, stripped of their families, coerced into not requesting asylum, and put into concentration camps with immigrants.

2. They [Mary and Joseph and baby Jesus] weren’t breaking the law? There’s kind of this part of the story where the decree passed by the head of state was a threat to the life of their child, and they defied the law and escaped.

3. How about Moses? Should his mom have obeyed the law and handed her son over?

4. Just because something is legal doesn’t make it right, moral, or ethical.

Enslavement of Black people was legal. Helping enslaved people escape, as well as being an enslaved person and escaping, broke the law.

The holocaust was legal. Hiding the people targeted by the Holocaust, helping them escape, and being part of the resistance were illegal.

Making black people sit in the back of the bus was legal. Refusing to move was illegal.

Being part of an interracial marriage was illegal.

Not allowing People of Color or women to vote or own property was legal.

A certain 13 colonies breaking free and forming their own country was illegal.

Apartheid was legal.

The Trail of Tears was legal.

Legality is not what determines whether something is right or wrong.”

Quite frankly, if you are someone who is justifying and defending our treatment of immigrants and refugees, not only in the sense of what is happening on the border but also in the sense of our turning away refugees from war torn countries that WE HAVE BOMBED, and in the sense of the Muslim ban that the SCOTUS just upheld, you disgust me, and you are in no way living what Christ Himself taught. Furthermore, you are the type of person who -in Germany – in various ways supported the Nazi regime during the Holocaust. And no, that is not hyperbole.

We helped create the situations people are fleeing from, we have created the system that makes it damn near impossible to come here “legally” if you’re poor or need to leave home quickly. And now, when they try to come here to escape the situations in their countries of our making, we strip these same people of their humanity and dignity, tear their families apart, put them in concentration camps, and punish them every way we can for daring to try to exist? What. The. Hell.

If you support this, don’t you DARE call yourself pro-life, and don’t you DARE say “all lives matter”. This stand is the very opposite of being pro-life and you are showing that you don’t actually believe all lives matter, you only believe they matter if they’re white US American lives, especially if they’re police, to include if they are police who have just played judge, jury, and executioner to a black person. You have blood on your hands through your support and justification of a system that is engaging in ruthless ethnic cleansing and heading down the path of genocide. You should be on your knees before God and the people you are wronging, begging for forgiveness.

Let me close, not with my own words, but with the words of Jesus Christ Himself, whom you claim to love and follow. Read this and see how well your actions match up with this.

Matthew 25:34-45

“Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’

“Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’

“The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’

“Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.’

“They also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?’

“He will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.’

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The “zero-tolerance” policy didn’t occur in a vacuum

I want to start by saying that I absolutely oppose ripping families apart and housing children in cages. The following post is not at all intended to justify, minimize, or excuse what has been happening on our southern border, but rather to give food for thought about the context, history, deeper implications, and further change that is needed. And if you’re someone who has exclaimed “I don’t recognize my country. This is not who we are!”, you need to pay attention too.
 
The “zero tolerance” policy did not come out of nowhere. The current state of affairs regarding how immigrants and asylum-seekers are being treated did not occur in a vacuum. The United States has a long and blood history of treating People of Color (POC) terribly, going all the way back to the first white explorers who fumbled their way across the sea and went on to rape, pillage, and intentionally inflict disease and death on indigenous peoples. Our colonialist history is rife with story after story of white people enslaving human beings because of the color of their skin and literally treating them even worse than animals. Our country’s foundation is built on the blood, sweat, tears, and backs of POC. And this is not the first time we’ve turned away refugees and immigrants fleeing bad situations. If you think it is, you should really do some research. Start with how we basically said “Screw you” to refugees fleeing the brutality of Hitler’s Nazi regime. We like to think of ourselves as the heroes in WW2, but the truth of the matter is that we took an isolationist approach that cost millions of innocent people their lives. When we did get involved, it was because the war was brought to our doorstep. And then, we committed some morally reprehensible and unnecessarily brutal acts in our pursuit of vengeance and “trying to bring an end to the war”.
 
Our country has long been involved in ripping apart families for the color of their skin and inflicting trauma on POC, including children. Our industrial prison system incarcerates POC for things they shouldn’t be incarcerated for, and benefits from their unpaid labor, while making little to no effort towards rehabilitation or restoration. We profit from their pain and incarceration. The school-to-prison pipeline is a very real thing and a big problem. Our treatment of Native American people is reprehensible. We justify and excuse and allow to go undealt with the rampant police brutality that regularly takes the lives of POC in what can accurately be described as state-sanctioned murder. And our treatment of immigrants from south of the USA has long been absolutely vile, under Presidents of both parties. President Obama earned the nickname “Deporter-in-Chief” for a reason. And when President Trump was campaigning leading up to the 2016 election, he told us exactly how poorly he thought of immigrants and that he wanted to treat them badly and wanted to further strip them of their humanity. But we, white USAmericans, didn’t listen. We have long been not listening to the POC trying to tell us how bad matters have been. We have ignored and shouted down and blown off the POC trying to tell us how much we needed immigration reform. We have refused to truly and fully acknowledge the fullness of our racist white-supremacist history and the amount of systemic racism that still exists.
What is happening right now is vile, and a violation of human decency, human rights, and US and international law. But it didn’t just suddenly pop up out of nowhere. And it’s not something that just one party allowed to happen. If we (white people) took a good hard look at ourselves, we’d find that in some way, all of us have held at least some responsibility and culpability in letting matters get to where they are, whether that’s be our actions or our inactions. Voting for politicians who enact and don’t fight against ingumane laws. Not teaching our children better. Not calling out racism and xenophobia when we see it.  Not working to hold our elected officials accountable. Not listening to the POC trying to tell us the truth about our history. Not acknowledging our history.
We have to start working for real change, but it needs to go much deeper than just pushing back against this one policy. And it has to start with taking a hard look at our own hearts and habits, with seeing where our own shortcomings lie. Change has to come from within to be true real lasting change. We have to acknowledge the racism that has made this possible, and we have to start working to uplift the POC doing the hard work here. We need to rip out the roots of anti-blackness that this country is built on. We need to examine the systems of oppression that have stolen so much from Native Americans. We need to take a hard look at the American Exceptionalism and colonialist underpinnings of our foreign policy. We must acknowledge the humanity of those we have tried for so long to dehumanize, and stop hiding behind the nonsensical idea that “Well, if they’d just follow our laws…” For one, something being law doesn’t make it right, moral, or ethical. And for another, we still kill and traumatize POC who follow the law, so that’s straight BS.
What is happening on our southern border isn’t ok, but it didn’t just come out of nowhere, it didn’t occur in a vacuum. We have allowed this to happen. It’s well past time to put a stop to it.

Police Brutality Is Not A New Problem

By now, you may have heard about a recent incident in Salt Lake City where SLC Detective Jeff Payne arrested University of Utah Hospital RN Alex Wubbels when she refused to allow him to take a blood sample from an unconscious victim of a car crash, because Payne didn’t have the consent of the victim, probable cause, or warrant needed by law and hospital policy to allow him to take a blood sample. It’s been all over the news, with many people up in arms about how Payne treated Wubbels, who has been hailed as a hero for standing up against the police in defense of her patient.

I’ve seen so many reactions from white people who are horrified and shocked. “OMG how could this have happened?” “I can’t believe a cop would treat a nurse this way, she was just following the law and the rules.” etc. etc. etc.

Now. Before we go any further, I want to make this clear: what Payne did was wrong. He was out of line to try to take that blood sample, and he was out of line to arrest Wubbels and to treat her the way he did.

But I have to ask: why are we surprised that it happened?

This incident didn’t occur in a vacuum, and it didn’t come out of nowhere. It’s not unprecedented at all. Police brutality is not a new problem. Police brutality has been a problem for pretty much since police first became a Thing, and it’s been pretty bad and been in the news a lot lately, with a whole movement aimed at bringing attention to the issue and trying to raise awareness and work for change, accountability, and awareness, we (white people) just usually don’t listen. What’s the difference?

Alex Wubbels is white.

POC have been talking to us for a while now about the police brutality they face. There have been countless news stories about POC heartlessly killed by police. Ironically, many of the same people outraged by Payne’s treatment of Wubbels are usually on the side of the police when we hear that they’ve taken yet another life. “Well, that person should have just gone along with what the police told them to do and then they’d still be alive.” “The police probably were afraid for their lives.” “Always do what the police say. I don’t have any sympathy for people who don’t do what the police say and then get in trouble.” “Why are you crucifying the police? We need to wait for all the details.” “You’re only looking at one side of things, why aren’t you looking at all sides of the story?” “I’m sure they had good reason.” But now that it’s a white woman, suddenly it’s ok to be outraged without needing to be worried about the cop’s feelings?

Hmmmmmmm…..

Police brutality is a very real problem. We have allowed police to basically do whatever they want to POC and we refuse to hold them accountable, we justify and excuse them and their behavior. We perpetuate this culture of toxic white supremacy and abuse of power. Frankly, I’m pretty short on patience for my fellow white people who want to clutch their pearls at what happened to Wubbels after basically giving the police a pass to do whatever they want without facing any repercussions. We sit here and basically tell them that it’s ok to enact violence on the people they’re supposedly sworn to protect, serve, and defend all the time. Yeah, eventually it’s going to happen to one of us, and we don’t have a whole lot of room to be shocked.

When I hear the discussions about Payne arresting Wubbels, you know what I think?

She’s lucky to be alive, and it’s probably because of how she looks.

You know who’s not still alive?

Rekia Boyd.
Sandra Bland.
Aiyana Stanley-Jones.
Tanisha Anderson.
Malissa Williams.
Yvette Smith.
Shereese Francis.
Tarika Wilson.
Kathryn Kohnston.
Alberta Spruill.
Kiwi Herring.
Charleena Lyles.

And so many more. This is not a comprehensive list of WOC killed by police.

If you’re truly shocked and upset by what happened to Wubbels, but you weren’t upset by what happens to POC at the hands of police, the first thing you need to do is ask yourself why that is. Then you need to ask yourself why you didn’t listen to the POC who tried to tell you that police brutality is a problem.

On Being a “Good Ally”: It’s Not About You

Today, let’s talk about being good allies/co-conspirators with oppressed/marginalized communities.

If you want to be a good ally/co-conspirator, realize that it’s not about you. Being a good ally/co-conspirator is not about getting cookies, accolades, praise, awards, and attention. It’s not about getting patted on the back because you’re so brave to speak up for what’s right and fighting against the oppression of human beings. It’s not about recognition and warm fuzzies. If those things are your motivation, you’re doing it wrong and you need to sit down and take a good hard look at yourself and rethink your methods. You probably need to sit down, be quiet, and listen. I know that it’s hard to accept criticism. I know it’s uncomfortable. TRUST me, I am intimately familiar with that discomfort. But instead of getting defensive and continuing to make it about you and why the people you claim to want/try to be an ally/co-conspirator with are so mean and you’re so hurt, stop and sit with your discomfort. Look deep within yourself and ask “WHY do I have such a negative reaction to the people I claim to want to be an ally/co-conspirator with/to/for calling me out on the ways I’m causing them further pain?”. Chances are very good that if you’re honest with yourself, you’ll find that your discomfort shines a light on a shadow of privilege and problematic behavior/thought patterns/beliefs/etc. And once you have seen that mess for what it is, you can start to weed it out.

And keep in mind that no matter how uncomfortable you are (whether it’s discomfort due to being called out by the people you claim to want to be an ally/co-conspirator to, or discomfort because of angry reactions from the people being confronted with their own problematic behaviors), keep in mind that your pain and discomfort is not equal and comparable to the pain and discomfort faced by the people you claim to want to be an ally/co-conspirator to. Example: let’s say there’s a man who says he wants to be an ally to feminists because he recognizes that sexism and misogyny are still very much alive and active institutionally and systematically as well as on individual levels. Let’s call him Bob. Bob, on a regular basis, speaks up about and against sexism and misogyny, to include calling other men out when they say and do sexist and misogynistic things. Bob is open about his support of feminists. Bob probably shares posts from websites and FB pages that promote intersectional feminism and from a variety of individual feminists in an attempt to signal boost their voices. Eventually (possibly sooner rather than later), people (probably mostly men) start lashing out at Bob. “HOW DARE YOU say sexism is a thing. How DARE YOU share that terrible #YesAllWomen hashtag. NOT ALL MEN!!!! OMG why are you divisive? You’re such a fucking idiot, Bob, and I don’t care who in the family I offend. Half the family has you blocked from their newsfeeds because you’re so offensive. You’re the one being sexist by saying this stuff.” and that’s probably just the tame responses. Over time, Bob gets more and more pushback. Bob probably loses some friends. Bob may even have family members who lash out, talk about him behind his back, block him, etc. People say some very hurtful things to Bob.

Bob’s pain is very real. It sucks to have people lash out at you when you speak up for what’s right, especially when it’s people who claim to love you and have previously claimed to just LOVE how passionate you are about your advocacy for other people and for doing what is right (but that’s only when your cause doesn’t make them uncomfortable by confronting their sexism/racism/LGBTQ antagonism, Islamaphobia, white supremacy, etc.). Bob is perfectly justified in being hurt and upset that his loved ones treat him like this. But even though Bob is in pain, Bob needs to realize that the pain he feels and the discomfort he feels due to negative reactions to his allyship is NOT the same as the pain experienced by women due to institutional and systemic oppression and marginalization on top of the same on an individual level. The pushback he gets for speaking up is NOT the same as the lived experiences of women, and he should not compare the two and try to put them on the same level. Bob needs to understand that speaking up is a choice that he makes, and he can choose to step back if he needs a break, whereas women don’t get to step back from being a woman when exhaustion hits because they’ve been living under the oppression since birth. Bob still has his male privilege and the privilege of taking a breather if he chooses/needs to.

This example applies far more generally, not just to men trying to be feminist allies. If you’re trying to be an ally with members of a marginalized/oppressed group, you DO NOT get to compare any discomfort/pain you experience with the pain and lived experiences of people who are members of that group. Being an ally and experiencing angry reactions from people who are unhappy having their privilege and problematic/oppressive behavior and words called out is not the same as experiencing the oppression experienced by the people you want to ally with. Your lived experience is not and will never be the same as theirs. Being an ally doesn’t make you a member of the community, and trying to say it does and force your way in takes space away from the people who actually do belong to that community, and that’s not ok. It’s not ok for Bob to go into a feminist space and make the feminist space about him, and then get angry and lash out at women who say “Dude, not cool, not ok, BTW you’re mansplaining too now and you’re being condescending and talking over me, and you’re being a crappy ally. Stop it.” It’s not ok for Bob  to go into what are supposed to be safe spaces for women and make those spaces about him. It’s not ok for Bob to take space away from the women who need it.

As a cis-gender woman and feminist, I can say that I don’t expect male allies to get their allyship with feminism right the first time. I realize there’s a learning curve, and that we are all growing and progressing as we move through life. I’m certainly not perfect, and I have made mistakes in my attempts to be an ally, and I will again in the future. That’s one reason I know that sitting with your discomfort can help you learn and grow, and reacting defensively and closing off your ears while insisting you’re right does the opposite, and can drive away the people you claim you want to help, and can mark you as not being a safe person. Being open to listening and learning, realizing you’re not perfect and you will ALWAYS have more to learn and more growing to do, is vital.

If you want to be a good ally, if you want to do the right thing by standing up for what’s right and using your privilege to speak up against oppression, that’s great. Realize that that’s going to come with discomfort and pain. Doing the right thing often does. When you get criticism and pushback from the people you’re trying to be an ally/co-conspirator with, stop and listen, and try to determine how you can apply it to your life. Don’t compare your discomfort with the pain caused by systemic oppression. Remember, it’s not about you. If you’re making it about you, something is wrong and you need to step back, sit down, be quiet, and listen.

Rape Is NOT a Consequence of Drinking Alcohol

Content Warning: This blog post contains discussion of rape, victim shaming/blaming, and Brock Turner (the Stanford rapist trial boondoggle). Here’s a picture of one of my cats (hiding from a guide dog in training who was staying with us), in lieu of white space, in case you need to exit out without reading this link. I *totally* get that, and you have my solidarity. ❤ I’ve had to click out of a few links, or even avoid clicking them. :-/

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Recently, there’s been a lot of discussion of what happens when people drink alcohol, discussion of what the consequences are for drinking, especially if you get drunk, especially-est if you get falling down black-out drunk. As I have some experience with this, I thought I’d shed some light on the matter.

The consequences of drinking alcohol include:

  • Getting tipsy/buzzed
  • Getting drunk
  • Becoming emotional
  • Peeing a lot
  • Dehydration
  • Difficulty walking
  • Passing out
  • Throwing up
  • Hangover

Please note that you may not have all of these symptoms. The symptoms you experience depend on a variety of factors and vary from person to person. They also vary for the same person depending on factors including (but not limited to) what you drink, when you drink it, how fast you drink it, your food intake, your water intake, medications, medical conditions, etc. This is a list of some of the symptoms (or consequences) you *might* experience after drinking alcohol.

Now, let’s talk about…

Things that are unequivocally NOT consequences/symptoms of drinking alcohol:

  • Rape
  • Sexual assault

I know it’s a shorter list, but please, read it again. Read it a few times. I’ll wait.

In the wake of the Brock Turner boondoggle, in which a man was convicted of raping an unconscious woman and received only a 6 month sentence in county jail, I’ve heard multiple people make remarks along these lines.

“They’re both facing the consequences of their choices.”
“She shouldn’t have drunk so much.”
“Things would probably have turned out differently if she hadn’t gotten so drunk she blacked out.”
“She needs to take responsibility for her choice to drink/get that drunk.”
“The person who gave her her last drink holds some responsibility too.”
“This is why women shouldn’t drink very much.”
“Women who drink need to make sure they have a trusted friend who’s sober with them.”
“She made a choice to drink and now she’s paying for it.”
“Please drink responsibly so this type of thing doesn’t happen.”
“Her life is being affected by her drinking choices.”
“Choices like theirs have consequences.”
“Never set yourself up to be attacked or raped.”
“It’s too bad she chose to drink to incapacitation and now has to face the consequences of that choice.”

Here’s the thing. I’m going to let you in on something that is apparently not a known fact to everyone. This is REALLY important, so pay close attention, ok? You ready? Here we go.

Rape is not a consequence of alcohol. Rape is not a consequence of drinking alcohol. Rape is not a consequence of getting drunk. Rape is the consequence of someone who decides to rape someone else. RAPE IS NOT A CONSEQUENCE OF DRINKING.

There is only one person who is responsible for the fact that Brock Turner raped a woman who was drunk and unconscious. That person is Brock Turner. And Brock Turner didn’t rape this woman because he was drunk or because she was drunk. Brock Turner raped this woman because he’s a jerk who said “To hell with consent. My wants are more important than her humanity, and consent doesn’t matter.” It wasn’t because he was drunk, because rape isn’t a consequence of drinking.

I’ve been drunk before, to varying degrees (everything from vaguely buzzed to vomiting, blacking out, and probably had some alcohol poisoning going one. I’ve also been raped and otherwise sexually assaulted. And you know what? The two happened independently of one another. With the exception of one time (and that time involved an abusive and manipulative relationship and grooming that had been happening for a while including while sober, ad was generally a crappy situation, but isn’t that always the case?), I wasn’t raped when I was drinking. I was raped/sexually assaulted when I was sober. And the rapists? Also sober.

I’ll tell you one story in particular. Years ago, there was a night where I was really unhappy, and I ended up *really* drunk. Like, really really really drunk. I couldn’t stand up or walk straight. I ended up having to be carried up the stairs, stuck in a shower, and put to bed once I was clean, dried off, dressed, and no longer smelled of vodka and orange Fanta (terrible combination, if you’re wondering). I spent most of the night vomiting and it was well over 24 hours before I was actually sober. I blacked out at a couple of points. It’s taken me YEARS to finally remember most of the night, but there are still a few blocks that are missing. Quite frankly, looking back, I’m pretty sure I had alcohol poisoning. Fortunately, the friends I had around me – both male and female – were decent people. Despite the fact that some of them were drunk and I was drunk, nobody raped me, and I didn’t rape anyone. One of the guys was the one who carried me upstairs and deposited me with the female friends who got me cleaned up and taken care of. He was alone with me in a stairwell while I was drunk… no rape happened. Why? Because rape isn’t a consequence of drinking alcohol (or doing drugs).

If rape were a consequence of drinking, why do sober people rape? Why are sober people raped? Rape isn’t about alcohol, just as it’s not about what the person who was raped was wearing, whether they were flirting, whether they initially said yes and then changed their mind, whether they said yes to some petting but no to anything further, whether they were doing drugs, whether they’re a sex worker, whether they are sex-positive, or anything else. Rape isn’t even about sex. Rape is about power. Rape is about someone who decides that what they want matters more than the person they want it from.

There is nothing I can do that makes me responsible for my rape. Being raped is not a choice I make. Being raped is not the consequence of any of my choices. If I am raped, it is not my fault in any way, shape or form. To say that it is, to say the things I listed above in the examples of things people say, is to blame me for someone else raping me.

This line of thinking of “She chose to drink irresponsibly” is victim blaming. It’s a part of rape culture. It takes some of the culpability and responsibility off of the shoulders of the rapist and puts it squarely on the shoulders of the rape survivor. That’s not right. Unfortunately, a lot of the people I see saying “She’s now dealing with a devastating consequence to her choice to get drunk” don’t realize that that’s them blaming her for what the rapist did. They say “What?!? OF COURSE I’m not blaming her! He’s the rapist, it’s not her fault. Why would you think I blame her? I don’t blame her for being raped. I just think she should have made better choices.” And they don’t see the contradiction. They don’t see that they’re putting the choice to rape on par with the choice to drink, when they’re not at all the same thing.

You should also know that if this applies to you, if you’re one of the ones saying “Well, it’s a consequence of her getting so drunk, she should have been more responsible in her drinking”, you’re telling the people around you that should they/we ever be raped/sexually assaulted, you are not a safe person to come talk to. Why? Because you’re likely to sit there and – even without realizing – find some way to pin the blame on us and make it OUR fault. That’s one of the things you say when you make it about the rape/sexual assault survivor instead of leaving it all on the rapists shoulders. Think really hard about whether that’s the message you want to send. Hopefully, it’s not, and now that you know better you’ll do better.

I’d like to share the words of the woman whom Brock Turner chose to rape. This is part of the letter she wrote (you can read the full thing here)and read as her victim statement at his sentencing. Her words are powerful and spot on, and it’s only right that she be given airtime to voice this.

“He has done irreversible damage to me and my family during the trial and we have sat silently, listening to him shape the evening. But in the end, his unsupported statements and his attorney’s twisted logic fooled no one. The truth won, the truth spoke for itself.

You are guilty. Twelve jurors convicted you guilty of three felony counts beyond reasonable doubt, that’s twelve votes per count, thirty ­six yeses confirming guilt, that’s one hundred percent, unanimous guilt. And I thought finally it is over, finally he will own up to what he did, truly apologize, we will both move on and get better. Then I read your statement.

If you are hoping that one of my organs will implode from anger and I will die, I’m almost there. You are very close. This is not a story of another drunk college hook­up with poor decision making. Assault is not an accident. Somehow, you still don’t get it. Somehow, you still sound confused. I will now read portions of the defendant’s statement and respond to them.

You said, Being drunk I just couldn’t make the best decisions and neither could she.

Alcohol is not an excuse. Is it a factor? Yes. But alcohol was not the one who stripped me, fingered me, had my head dragging against the ground, with me almost fully naked. Having too much to drink was an amateur mistake that I admit to, but it is not criminal. Everyone in this room has had a night where they have regretted drinking too much, or knows someone close to them who has had a night where they have regretted drinking too much. Regretting drinking is not the same as regretting sexual assault. We were both drunk, the difference is I did not take off your pants and underwear, touch you inappropriately, and run away. That’s the difference.

You said, If I wanted to get to know her, I should have asked for her number, rather than asking her to go back to my room.

I’m not mad because you didn’t ask for my number. Even if you did know me, I would not want to be in this situation. My own boyfriend knows me, but if he asked to finger me behind a dumpster, I would slap him. No girl wants to be in this situation. Nobody. I don’t care if you know their phone number or not.

You said, I stupidly thought it was okay for me to do what everyone around me was doing, which was drinking. I was wrong.

Again, you were not wrong for drinking. Everyone around you was not sexually assaulting me. You were wrong for doing what nobody else was doing, which was pushing your erect dick in your pants against my naked, defenseless body concealed in a dark area, where partygoers could no longer see or protect me, and my own sister could not find me. Sipping fireball is not your crime. Peeling off and discarding my underwear like a candy wrapper to insert your finger into my body, is where you went wrong. Why am I still explaining this.

You said, During the trial I didn’t want to victimize her at all. That was just my attorney and his way of approaching the case.

Your attorney is not your scapegoat, he represents you. Did your attorney say some incredulously infuriating, degrading things? Absolutely. He said you had an erection, because it was cold.

You said, you are in the process of establishing a program for high school and college students in which you speak about your experience to “speak out against the college campus drinking culture and the sexual promiscuity that goes along with that.”

Campus drinking culture. That’s what we’re speaking out against? You think that’s what I’ve spent the past year fighting for? Not awareness about campus sexual assault, or rape, or learning to recognize consent. Campus drinking culture. Down with Jack Daniels. Down with Skyy Vodka. If you want talk to people about drinking go to an AA meeting. You realize, having a drinking problem is different than drinking and then forcefully trying to have sex with someone? Show men how to respect women, not how to drink less.

Drinking culture and the sexual promiscuity that goes along with that. Goes along with that, like a side effect, like fries on the side of your order. Where does promiscuity even come into play? I don’t see headlines that read, Brock Turner, Guilty of drinking too much and the sexual promiscuity that goes along with that. Campus Sexual Assault. There’s your first powerpoint slide. Rest assured, if you fail to fix the topic of your talk, I will follow you to every school you go to and give a follow up presentation.

Lastly you said, I want to show people that one night of drinking can ruin a life.

A life, one life, yours, you forgot about mine. Let me rephrase for you, I want to show people that one night of drinking can ruin two lives. You and me. You are the cause, I am the effect. You have dragged me through this hell with you, dipped me back into that night again and again. You knocked down both our towers, I collapsed at the same time you did. If you think I was spared, came out unscathed, that today I ride off into sunset, while you suffer the greatest blow, you are mistaken. Nobody wins. We have all been devastated, we have all been trying to find some meaning in all of this suffering. Your damage was concrete; stripped of titles, degrees, enrollment. My damage was internal, unseen, I carry it with me. You took away my worth, my privacy, my energy, my time, my safety, my intimacy, my confidence, my own voice, until today.”

(Note: The survivor has made a follow-up statement addressing why she chooses to remain anonymous, and it’s not only to protect her identity. Read more here.)

Wow.

Alcohol didn’t rape this woman. Brock Turner raped this woman. Not because he was drunk or because she was drunk, but because he chose to rape her, to act with total disregard for her body, her autonomy, and her rights. He treated her like a possession, not a person. Alcohol isn’t a sentient being, Alcohol doesn’t take over brains and force them to rape.

Before I go, I want to say it one more time, because it’s that important for people to realize.

Rape is not a consequence of drinking alcohol. Rape is a consequence of a person who decides to rape someone else. Alcohol does not cause rape. Rapists cause rape.

Resources for rape/sexual assault survivors and those who know/care about them

Now, I’d like to take a minute to switch over to talking about resources for rape/sexual assault survivors and the people who know/care about them, because that’s *really* important.

If you or someone you know has been raped, it is not your/their fault. There are resources to help you. You can contact RAINN (Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network) and they can chat with you confidentially 24/7 via internet or phone. They can also help you find local support. RAINN also has a page with national resources that might be of some use. Additionally, you can research and see if you/they have a rape crisis center nearby. RAINN also has a page with info about the DoD Safe Helpline. 

“DoD Safe Helpline provides a way for DoD community members affected by sexual assault to get help. These services are provided by RAINN through a contract with the DoD Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Office (SAPRO).” –RAINN: DoD Safe Helpline.

Other options for members of the US military and their dependents include

  • Calling your local MTF and they should have an option on the phone menu to get put through to the Sexual Assault Response Coordinator.
  • The DoD SAPRO (Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Office) website includes a section for victim assistance, which includes a breakdown of assistance options (including reporting options) by duty status: Active Duty, Reserve Component, Transitioning, Veteran, DoD Civilian, DoD Dependent, and DoD Contractor.

If you are a college student, you may have options/resources available through your campus nurse/health clinic, if you have one.

Planned Parenthood also has a page with information about rape/sexual assault. One thing of note from their page:

“Some hospitals/clinics have Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner (SANE) programs. These programs have nurses who are specially trained to collect evidence and provide medical care following a sexual assault. You do not have to cooperate with a law enforcement investigation in order to receive a medical forensic exam at no cost. The National Rape Hotline should be able to direct you to the nearest SANE program.

Many people who have experienced sexual violence are concerned about pregnancy or sexually transmitted infections (STIs). You can come to any Planned Parenthood health center for Emergency Contraception (within 5 days) and STI testing.” –Planned Parenthood: Rape/Sexual Assault Information

These are some of the main resources I usually direct people to, and they should be able to point you in the direction you need to go and give you advice specific to your situation. If you are a rape/sexual assault survivor, I am so sorry for what you’re going through. Know that there are people out here, including me, who support you 100% and unconditionally. If you need help, please reach out. If you’re not sure what you should do, you can reach out. You are not alone.