Of Monsters and Kids

My daughter couldn’t sleep last night. We had kind of a rough evening. After a strenuous two hour math homework marathon with my son,  I ordered a pizza, and the kids and I sat around the table discussing our highs and our lows of the day as we do every night at dinner, but I wasn’t engaged. I was irritable, the weight of the world heavy on my shoulders. I was short with both kids, not at my parenting best.

Rushed showers and stories and prayers, and the kids were off to bed. I poured a glass of wine and sat on the couch to lose myself in the lives of the Orange County housewives, watched the news, and then went to bed. Pretty uneventful.

Around eleven, my daughter came into my room half in a sleep walk haze and said she was scared. After the normal “Everything is okay. You’re safe here,” she fell back asleep.

This happened two more times in the night. I know it’s normal. I know kids go through times when they can’t sleep, and I know it will pass. I’ve been through all of this before, but I woke up tired and cranky, and when I went into her room to help her start getting ready for school, I forced myself not to show the irritation I felt.

I sat on the end of her bed helping her pick out a hat for “hats off” day, when she said it.

“Mom, I’m scared to go to school.”

I furrowed my brow at her. “Why, baby?” I asked with confusion thinking she was going to tell me about some kid being a bully and preparing myself to go all Debbie from This is Forty on him and hope that he too looked like Tom Petty. (Movie reference)

“I’m scared of the lock down drill.” Flashbacks to dinner last night when my head was far away from the conversation, and she mentioned something about it. Shame on me for not addressing it then.

My baby who is five years old, in her first year of school, a kindergartner, is scared to go to school because of a drill where fake bad guys come in and try to get into her classroom.

This is the world in which we live, friends, and it scares the hell out of me.

We spent the rest of the morning discussing the details and what she knew about the drill so far. Thankfully, my fourth grade son was around to help calm her nerves and told her it’s his favorite drill of all the drills (fire, tornado, BAD GUYS COMING INTO YOUR SCHOOL TO HARM YOU!)

She told me that if she’s in the bathroom and hears the alarm, she’s supposed to stop what she’s doing and stand on the toilet but keep her head down so nobody can see her over the top of the stall. “We can’t even flush, Mom. Do you think it’s okay to wipe?,” she asked, big blue eyes wide with worry. I shrugged my shoulders. How would I know? I never had lock down drills.

If someone tries to come into her classroom, the teacher will lock the door, and the students are supposed to find their hiding places.Kids are being taught to hide from bad guys in school.

As we walked to school, I told her that she need not worry, that we live in a safe place and that her focus today should be learning and enjoying time with her friends, and then I promised her a fun weekend. I walked away after kissing her goodbye knowing that I hadn’t been truthful.

Sure, we live in a safe place. We are in the heart of the suburbs where our biggest fear is a bobcat that likes to roam around our neighborhood.

But Columbine High School was safe. Sandy Hook Elementary was safe. Virginia Tech was safe.

Until they weren’t.

My daughter couldn’t sleep last night because this world simply isn’t safe anymore. Not even for a sweet little girl with a heart of gold in kindergarten.

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Be brave. Stay safe. It’s only school after all.

Rape and Math – Numbers Don’t Lie

I’m mad. Infuriated, actually. A rapist is getting set free, possibly right now. Today, after only serving three months in jail. Upon hearing this news, my immediate reaction was  to pull out my laptop and shove my two cents down your throat. I wanted to write about the injustice of Brock Turner’s short sentence.

Armed with a handful of hot tamales and an ice water, I grabbed my laptop and began my research, ready to write about statistics and logic and speak to the rational world about how this Stanford student’s sentence was a travesty and a joke to our judicial system and a complete and utterly repulsive slap in the face of his victim because it was. It is. It is the definition of injustice.

But sadly, with rape (or in this boy’s privileged world) sexual assault or according to his dad, “twenty minutes of action,” it’s not uncommon. Like I said, I wanted to write a logical article about how illogical his sentence was and how even more illogical his time served was, so I did some research.

Here’s what I found:

Brock Turner was not convicted of rape. He was convicted of sexual assault. Three counts of felony sexual assault: Assault with intent to rape, sexual penetration of an intoxicated person and sexual penetration of an unconscious person.  Here’s the difference in rape and sexual assault according to The Bureau of Justice Statistics. Rape is: “Forced sexual intercourse including both psychological coercion as well as physical force. Forced sexual intercourse means penetration by the offender(s). Includes attempted rapes, male as well as female victims, and both heterosexual and same sex rape. Attempted rape includes verbal threats of rape.” Sexual assault is: “A wide range of victimizations, separate from rape or attempted rape.  These crimes include attacks or attempted attacks generally involving unwanted sexual contact between victim and offender.  Sexual assaults may or may not involve force and include such things as grabbing or fondling.  It also includes verbal threats.”

In California, the minimum sentence for assault with intent to rape is two years. It’s less for the other two felonies.  Upon his release today, he will have served three months. According to basic math, that’s only 1/8 of the minimum sentence.

Enraged, I googled the average time served for assault with intent to rape.

As much as I wanted to be angry about Brock Turner and the giant middle finger he waved to the judicial system and his victim, I couldn’t be. Do you know why?

This is normal.

I’ll let that sink in for a minute.

I was as shocked as you are to read that the average rapist only serves a few months in jail, rarely prison.

Let’s look at some more numbers on this so you can get as boiling mad as I am.

I got on RAINN.org and read these alarming statistics:

  • Every 109 seconds, someone is a victim of sexual assault. That’s less time than the recommended time to brush your teeth.
  • 90% of victims (in reported cases) are female, but get this, only 3% of sexual assaults are even reported. 97%of sexual assaults do not get reported to police. 97% of victims do not report the crime.
  • One out of every six American women will be a victim of sexual assault (attempted and completed.)
  • Only 1% of perpetrators spend any time in jail. 99% go free. 99% of these guys/gals are still walking around like nothing ever happened. Wonder what’s going on with his/her victim? Pretty sure life isn’t business as usual for the victim. Ever. For the rest of the victim’s life, nothing will ever be business as usual.

Numbers don’t lie.

Rape is a problem, and cases like Brock Turner’s can only shed light on this epidemic that so many people are afraid to discuss.

But I’m not.

There are a lot reasons why little privileged boys get away with rape, but one is that victims do not speak up. Why?

  • She was asking for it. Because girls who get raped often shout out to potential rapists, “Hey, please rape me and ruin my life.”
  • She shouldn’t have gotten so drunk. That’s right, rapists. As long as she’s drunk, it’s basically an invitation for you to enter her vagina because she drank too much. Bad girl.
  • She shouldn’t have worn that. I never realized mini-skirts were welcome mats for unwanted penises, but girls, remember, your skirt should touch your knees unless you want to be held down and assaulted.
  • She’s the kind of girl who puts out that vibe. I’ve met a lot of women. I’ve talked to women of different walks of life. Strangely, I never caught the vibe that any of them wanted to be sexually assaulted, but maybe I’m dense.

When my friend Darla wrote about rape on her blog, this happened to her:

And we wonder why sexual assaults go unreported. How many victims blame themselves? And if they don’t, there are plenty of people out there ready to point the fingers at the wrong person.

There is only ever one person who is at fault in any sexual assault. The rapist.

We must stand up for ourselves. We must report these crimes. We must demand longer sentences, and we must break the chain in rape culture, shattering the ridiculous notion that the blame is ever on the victim.

P.S. Nobody deserves to be raped. Ever.

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