You may have heard the news about a former Stanford swimmer who got off with a wrist slap after he was convicted of sexually assaulting an unconscious woman behind a dumpster in January 2015. (The victim's powerful letter to her attacker, published by Buzzfeed, went viral over the weekend.) But if not, here’s a brief recap:
Brock Allen Turner will only serve six months in county jail after being found guilty of multiple felonies, including assault and intent to rape an intoxicated woman, The Guardian reports. Though prosecutors recommended a sentence of six years, Aaron Persky, the judge in his case, said that Brock’s young age (he’s 20) and lack of criminal history made him worthy of a much shorter sentence. Persky said a harsh prison sentence would have a “severe impact on him,” according to The Guardian. Brock’s dad also wrote a letter—which you can read here—saying that his son shouldn’t have his life ruined over “20 minutes of action.” The concensus here in our neck of the woods: Yes, yes he should.
Unfortunately, a new study published in the journal Violence Against Women found that this kind of reprehensible behavior isn’t rare—especially among college athletes.
In a survey of 379 men—159 of whom played rec sports and 29 of whom were intercollegiate athletes—researchers asked participants to respond to statements that met the legal definition of rape like, “I used threats to make my partner have oral or anal sex.”
The results were sickening: Fifty-four percent of athletes and 34 percent of non-athletes admitted to having engaged in sexually coercive behaviors. What does sexually coercive mean, exactly? It includes making a partner have sex without a condom and using physical force or threats to commit rape.
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Scientists also found that guys who admitted they used forceful tactics to take advantage of women were more likely to agree with rape-justifying statements like, “If a woman doesn’t fight back, it isn’t rape,” and notions of ridiculously antiquated gender roles like, “Women should worry less about their rights and more about becoming good wives and mothers.”
Worth pointing out: These are just the men who actually admitted to doing these things, making it likely that the actual numbers are even higher.
If you or someone you know is a victim of sexual assault, you can find help here:
National Sexual Assault Hotline: 800-656-HOPE (4673)
Rape, Abuse, & Incest National Network
End Rape on Campus
Know Your IX
National Sexual Violence Resource Center