Dear Future President,
I realize that shortly after I write this, you will have just been given the enormous honor and responsibility of becoming the President of the United States for at least the next four years. I understand that you will have a plethora of things on your To Do List, but my hope is that my letter might help push this issue further up that list. I have written this to discuss the issue of sexual assault, and the aid and justice (or lack thereof) that is given to the victims. As the president, you have a duty to protect the citizens, and there is not enough being done to help in this area.
According to RAINN (Rape Abuse & Incest National Network), an American is sexually assaulted every 109 seconds. This is inexcusable and needs to be eliminated as a common issue in this country. Despite the fact that sexual assault has decreased by over a half since 1993, 1 in 6 women and 1 in 33 men will experience rape or attempted rape in their lifetime, even today. It is a present issue in our society, affecting many people.
Seeing as this problem persists in our country, you would think that there would be more justice brought to the millions of victims. However, many cases of sexual assault are dismissed, and the perpetrator either walks free or is not given a significant enough sentence. RAINN states that “out of every 1000 instances of rape, only 13 cases get referred to a prosecutor, and only 7 cases will lead to a felony conviction.” There needs to be a change in the criminal justice system that allows a more thorough investigation and solidifies the perpetrator’s sentence once it is given.
In the news, we see case after case describing victims and perpetrators. But more recently, there was one in particular that grew to become quite a large national controversy. This was the story of Brock Turner, a former Stanford University swimmer charged of sexually assaulting an unconscious woman back in January of 2015. The victim wrote a detailed reflection on how the event had impacted her life. “I tried to push it out of my mind, but it was so heavy I didn’t talk, I didn’t eat, I didn’t sleep, I didn’t interact with anyone. After work, I would drive to a secluded place to scream. I didn’t talk, I didn’t eat, I didn’t sleep, I didn’t interact with anyone, and I became isolated from the ones I loved most.” Despite this letter, Turner was given what many called a “lenient” six month sentence, and was even released three months early. The story of Brock Turner is not uncommon in the criminal justice system, with factors like athletic involvement overshadowing what they did.
One reason why bringing justice to the perpetrator can be so tricky, is the idea that the victim in some way caused the event to occur. Many try to examine where the victim was, what they were wearing, what they were doing. However, these factors do not have any say in if the victim “had it coming”. If there was no consent given, it is rape. In Brock Turner’s case, he even tried to defend himself by saying that she liked it (beside the fact that she was unconscious, and the lack of verbal consent). These things can cause lines to blur, particularly when there were no witnesses of any sort. It is the victim’s word against the perpetrator, and sometimes they do not take the victim’s word as seriously as they should.
All in all, my goal is for this letter to urge you, at least a little, to move this issue further up on your To-Do List. Millions of men and women in your country are suffering from the aftermath of sexual assault. I hope that in the future, cases like this will be taken more seriously, and the sentences will be more appropriate to the crime. Thank you for reading. I look forward to seeing the positive changes that occur in bringing justice in this area.