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I Won’t Be Silent: A Fathers Response to Rape and Injustice


I can’t always be there to protect her.

I’ve spent this week trying to find the words to express my anger towards the ruling of the courts on the rape conviction of 20 year old Brock Turner and the events that have surrounded the case. What he has done will follow him for the rest of his life but it pales in comparison to the torment she will have to live with. Knowing a significant number of women who are rape/sexual assault survivors I have seen the weight of these actions decades later and the impact they make on marriages, families and the victims own self worth. It disgusts me that the rape took place in the first place but his excuses and shifting the blame were enough silence my typical quick rebuttal to the buzz around it all. This means more to me than something I can quickly tweet and wash my hands of. I needed to process this. 

“It slays me to feel so absolutely helpless knowing the battle ahead of her and here I sit knowing that I can’t always be there to protect her.”

One factor at the core of the debate around his sentencing is the issue of privilege; that because he his family was wealthy, politically and socially connected, and well established he was able to gain favor in the eyes of the judge and get off with an incredibly lenient sentence. Turner was sentenced to 6 months in jail with the potential of that being cut in half based on good behavior; in comparison the U.S. Department of Justice did a study showing the average sentence for convicted rapists was 11.8 years (although the actual time served was 5.4 years). The judge claimed the ruling as “appropriate” based on Turner’s age and lack of criminal history stating, “A prison sentence would have a severe impact on him…”. Yes, that’s the point of a prison sentence! Turner is an adult and made a decision that destroyed a young woman’s life; the punishment does not fit the crime here.

father-cryingI’m not the first person to write these facts, in fact, there are hundreds of posts right now going in to great detail and speculation about the events that took place surrounding this case. So why do I feel that I have something to add to the conversation? There have been hundreds of comments asking where the voice of men are in all of this. Where is our voice? I’ve rocked my 2 year old daughter to sleep every night this week running the same phrase through my head, “I can’t always be there to protect her”. Statistically speaking she is going to be sexually harassed or assaulted at some point in her  life and there is little I can do about it. I can’t always protect her. I can enroll her in self defense, constantly remind her of her self worth and tech her the dangers of going beyond her limits when consuming alcohol but I can’t always protect her. It slays me to feel so absolutely helpless knowing the battle ahead of her and here I sit knowing that I can’t always be there to protect her. This story is not about me and my feelings though.

“He didn’t just ignite a tiny fire in the hearts of women, he ignited that in all of us.”

The young woman who was raped in this case spoke directly to the man who brutally raped her during the trial. Buzzfeed received a transcript of this and it is haunting. In it she speaks candidly about the events of the night and the poor choices she made. She doesn’t once say drinking as much as she did was a moot point. She says, “Alcohol is not an excuse. Is it a factor? Yes. But alcohol was not the one who stripped me… Having too much to drink was an amateur mistake that I admit to, but it is not criminal.” This. This is where so much rage inside me boils over. Yes, she made a poor choice in getting black-out drunk that night but it does not put her at fault for being raped.; she was absolutely, 100% the victim. A young man took advantage of her situation and assaulted her behind a dumpster and then proceeded to paint her as a willing party. I won’t go in to the details here as she covers them more effectively than I ever could in the link above. I know this is just the beginning of my ability to process what happened and how it effects the world my children grow up in. I would hope this is the beginning of an upheaval in how cases like this are handled and judged but I’m not holding my breath.

This is not going to be swept up under the antique Parisian rug. There is currently a petition on asking for the Removal of Judge Aaron Persky and as of Friday morning is sitting at just over 1 million signatures. In her statement the victim says, “I want the judge to know that he ignited a tiny fire. If anything, this is a reason for all of us to speak even louder.”. He didn’t just ignite a tiny fire in the hearts of women, he ignited that in all of us. As a father I have vowed to raise my sons to understand the worth and value of a woman and to speak out against the crass sexist remarks they will like hear around them. As a husband I have vowed to show my wife what it means to be loved and pursued so that my daughter will settle for nothing less. As a man I will continue to use any platform I may have to speak about what true, Christ honoring masculinity looks like and hold the torch high. I may not have the words to express exactly what is going on in my heart but I hope that some of them have made their way on to this page and encouraged my readers to fan the flame.

What can we do men? Sitting quietly while we struggle to connect with out emotions is not an option.

Sean Leacy

Christ follower, husband & father. Geek extraordinaire, SysAdmin & avid outdoorsman. I love to lead worship & write. #DadLife #RedeemingFatherhood