I didn't know if I was raped so I kept silent – Brock Turner convinced me to speak up

Jun 8, 2016 at 4:00 p.m. ET
Image: Brandi Redd/Unsplash

Eighteen or 19 years ago, I woke up naked, legs hanging off the side of my bed and totally confused. Just a few minutes before, I thought, my boyfriend and I were drinking and playing cards with that couple we were friends with and hung out with all the time. I was laughing and having a great time.

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But it wasn't nighttime anymore. The couple was gone. The sun was shining. My head hurt. I'd never blacked out in my life. Had I really been that drunk? What happened?

I briefly wondered if I left my drink somewhere, but quickly stopped that line of thought. I didn't want to think about the who and the why of one minute playing cards and the next minute waking up confused and unclothed. It was easier not to.

I found my boyfriend asleep, curled into the fetal position around the toilet in the bathroom, on the cold floor. He looked just as confused as I felt — or maybe I was imagining that. I didn't ask. It was easier not to.

We never saw the other couple again. We just never talked to them again, which was weird because my boyfriend had been friends with them before I came into the picture. After that night, they weren't brought up — ever — and they also stopped calling.

And we pretended it was normal. Even though it wasn't. And it was easier that way.

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Years later, I wish I'd been strong enough to do what wasn't easier — to get answers to the questions from that night. Were we drugged? Was I raped? My own story makes me applaud the bravery of the other women who wake up unclothed and confused and question everything, even when the result is bullshit.

Brock Turner raped an unconscious woman. His friends and family are crying about injustice, claiming political correctness led to his three felony convictions.

This is not political correctness. This is privilege. This is victimizing the rapist and criminalizing the victim. This is the rapist's father, Dan Turner, blithely referring to the rape his son committed as "20 minutes of action." This is Judge Aaron Persky minimizing the crime to a mere six months for the sake of Brock Turner's "future."

This is rape culture. Nobody drink that Kool-Aid. It's contaminated.

It's so easy to remain silent because justice isn't always served, even with eyewitnesses and airtight cases. It's so much harder to speak out in spite of a culture which glorifies an Olympic hopeful-turned-convicted felon while blaming rape victims for their choice of clothing or for how much they drank.

I had a choice to remain silent way back then, but the victim in this case did not. Witnesses stopped the attack. She woke up in the presence of police who explained what had happened to her while she was unconscious. Her circumstances forced her to speak; she did not have the luxury of pretending it didn't happen. But justice would be served, she thought. And then it wasn't.

It's so easy to remain silent. For the Stanford rape victim, I now choose to speak.

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If you or anyone you know has been sexually assaulted, call the National Sexual Assault Hotline at 1-800-656-HOPE (4673). A trained staff member will provide confidential, judgment-free support as well as local resources to assist in healing and recovering, and more.