Turner’s recent conviction for two felony charges of sexual assault, and one for “attempt to rape” have sparked immense controversy over Judge Aaron Persky’s lenient six-month jail sentence for the crime. The 12 page impact letter that the victim read in the courtroom went viral. Despite the terrible trauma the young woman referred to as “Emily Doe” experienced, there really is a profound good that has come from this tragedy. That is the platform for exposing the ongoing and often silent threat of acquaintance rape on college campuses.
The www.freedictionary.com defines acquaintance rape as a, “Rape committed by someone with whom the victim is acquainted.” According to the National Institute of Justice, in college rapes, the perpetrator is known to the victim 85 or 90 percent of the time. In only about half of the cases are they a dating partner though. For example, Turner and his victim’s only connection was attending the same fraternity party.
Sexual assault can happen to women or men, and can occur anywhere. Yet RAINN, the Rape Abuse & Incest National Network reports, “9 out of 10 rape victims were female in 2003.” So, let’s talk about young women on college campuses where 99 percent of rapists are male. (Campus Safety Magazine) The Bureau of Justice Statistics, estimates that 80 percent of sexual assaults of college females are likely to go unreported. Other information from www.campussafetymagazine.com reports that alcohol is often a contributing factor in sexual assaults, “… 69 percent involve alcohol consumption by perpetrators.” This research also finds that 43% of victims had consumed alcohol.
Alarmingly, campus sexual assault surveys indicate that about 1 in 5 female students will be a victim of sexual assault. These statistics, however accurate are not the point according to Tyler Kingkade in his December 2014 Huffington Post column. Kingkade says the point is that victims are finally speaking up asserting that once they did report, their cases were handled poorly by campus hierachy. After all, a university can be hesitant to admit that they have a problem with rape on their campus. It’s not exactly a PR selling point for parents, “Have your daughter come to our college and then take your chances.”
In fairness, some universities are aggressively addressing this tragic phenomenon through preventive education. Yet this knowledge can come too late for acquaintance rape victims, since freshmen and sophomore students are at the highest risk of violation. That’s why, it’s paramount for parents to speak candidly with their college-bound kids. Warning their daughters not to go to a party alone but with other females, and not to ever leave with a male she doesn’t know well.
Tell her to guard her drink and never drink from a punch bowl or open container, because drug facilitated rapes are an ongoing issue. “Alcohol remains the most commonly used chemical in crimes of sexual assualt, but there are also substances being used by perpetrators including: Rohypnol, GHB, etc.,” according to the RAINN Website.
Tell your sons that, “No,” means, “No.” Regardless of how far the sexual activity has gone, and if a young woman is incapacitated like Turner’s victim was, her ability to legally consent is impaired. Don’t assume that your child will not drink, attend parties, or make poor choices, even if they are a church-goer or home-schooled, because a teenager’s newfound freedom can be a dangerous gift with deadly consequences. Lastly, don’t expect public high schools to be solely responsible for prevention. They are inundated with a multitude of prevention issues like: bullying, teen dating violence, prescription drug abuse and heroin prevention, nutrition, safe driving, etc. Instead parents have to step up to the plate, and start this difficult conversation, because sexual assault is an all-too-common reality.
In addition, acquaintance rape can be a very problematic crime to prosecute turning into a “He did,” versus “She wanted to,” conversation. Many times, the victim can be traumatized a second time through the brutally invasive process, when her character is put on trial. In Brock Turner’s case, there were two Stanford students from Sweden passing by who witnessed the sexual assault of the unconscious victim, and detained Turner until authorities arrived.
Emily Doe has no remembrance of the circumstances, because her blood alcohol was three times the legal limit. This in no way excuses Turner’s criminal behavior, but in all reality if it weren’t for the intervening Swedes, this startling case might have been one more unreported statistic.
Christina Ryan Claypool is a past two term board member for the former Ohio Coalition against Sexual Assault. She has been featured on Joyce Meyer Ministries and on CBN’s 700 Club. Her book, Seeds of Hope for Survivors for everyone who has ever been brokenhearted, addicted, or a victim is available on www.amazon.com. Her website is www.christinaryanclaypool.com.