Wilkerson’s victim stood in court and asked the judge to “have as much mercy for the rapist as he did for me that night.” Caryn Datz, the attorney for the victim, told the judge that Austin Wilkerson felt a sense of entitlement. “He felt entitled to rape her, he felt entitled to get away with it, and he felt entitled to lie on the stand about it,” she said.District Judge Patrick Butler seemed to agree with Datz. However, he “struggled with whether or not to put Wilkerson in prison.”
Communication and connectivity via technology is a great thing - usually. With the click of a button, a phone call can be made, a text can be sent, or a tweet can be posted. Just one of the benefits of this broad audience is the ability to have conversations about sexual assault. The use of social media (hashtags, sharing, etc.) allows much needed attention and support to be brought to sexual assault organizations.
It’s hard to believe this is ever going to end. I don’t see that happening any time soon. As a survivor, it’s exhausting to constantly see these things. The scariest part is that I was a survivor for many years who was still laughing at these things. I was raised in a rape culture where all of this was normalized. I didn’t see anything wrong with it. But I’m glad that I do now.
Every day for two years this outfit was deemed inappropriate enough to pull me out of class and send me down to the office. There the vice principal would scrutinize me and either tell me I passed or that I needed to put on a sweater. Every day my education was interrupted while other girls in the same clothes were allowed to go about their business. Every day boys walked around oblivious to the fact that a dress code even existed.
It was a year of growth in combating rape culture and stigma surrounding survivors, but it cannot end in 2016. With the new year, we have to work even harder. We have to support survivors. We have to protest and stand up when there is a trial sentencing that is much less than is deserved. This year was a show of strength, and next year is going to be even stronger.
Our society is telling the stories that women are living, but they aren’t telling the stories about the world that women should be living in. The ones where there is no shame. Where the only consent is the enthusiastic kind, where the perpetrator pays the price and the victim isn’t the one who has to fight back against judgment and shame. These are the stories we need to demand from our media. Because representation matters.
The nature of these investigations and the minimal punishment given to the offenders are egregiously wrong. This raises concerns about how students can feel protected by a system that favors its tenured professors. Title IX often throws uninformed students into bureaucratic procedures that they hardly know how to navigate. When official complaints are filed, the person who receives the most protection is the one who caused the violation.
I also don’t want to lie to you about this: college can be dangerous. Generally speaking, one out of every three females will be sexually assaulted in her lifetime. For males, that number is one in six. Those statistics are generalized, again. The truth is that the numbers are far worse on college campuses, where sexual assault and rape are epidemics. The occurrence of sexual violence is much higher in settings where drinking is actively taking place.
People began to publicly express support for her—even the vice president of the United States. Never in my life had I seen such widespread efforts to help a survivor of rape. I realized, then, that there are groups of people who genuinely want to make things better and do whatever they can to make rape culture a thing of the past. But how do we do this? In a world full of victim-blamers and Brock Turner defenders, it can be hard, but any small action or attempt at education can help. We need to move forward from this horrific situation in a positive, productive way. Can we make things any better for the survivor? Is there anything we can do to prevent things like this from happening again?
Even though the laws regarding sexual assault and rape vary from state to state, it is important for you to know that if you did not want something to happen to you, then it should not have happened. Victims are often not believed, and unfortunately with social media it is very common to see people being blamed for their own sexual assaults. What happened to you is not your fault. It doesn’t matter if you were drinking - even if you are underage. No matter if you were dating that person, or even married to them. You never have to do anything that you are not willing to do.