Happy Father’s Day to the BEST Father Out There!

Early on in our relationship, I remember how much you wanted to be a dad. You could barely wait to become a father, and that  desire is one of the many reasons why I fell so madly in love with you.

We started trying for a family shortly after we got married, yet month after month for two years, I was unable to grant you fatherhood. Your journey to fatherhood would prove to be full of grief, pain, confusion and loss, yet you kept such a positive outlook on life. It took us two years to conceive Braxton, but when that happened, I can’t even begin to express the amount of love and admiration I had for you. Obviously, I already loved you and admired you in ways I couldn’t quite explain, but there is something about seeing the man you love become a father, that you can’t even begin to put into words.

After our son was about 6 months old, we immediately started trying for baby #2. This part of our infertility journey was the hardest, because we experienced a lot of loss, heartache, pain and grief in just  a few months time. After our miscarriage in November, last year, we had pretty much decided to stop trying for children. We were tired of fertility treatment and procedures. We just wanted to live and enjoy life with our toddler.

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I still remember that chilly, yet sunny, January morning when I called you in a slight panic. I had taken a pregnancy test, and it was positive. You were shocked as was I. Blood work and an ultrasound later that day would prove we were expecting our second miracle baby. In only a few short months, we will be welcoming our second son, and I cannot wait to see you with both of our boys.

I’m thankful each and every day that our sons are being raised by a man of integrity, faith, compassion, respect and love. I am confidant that our sons will grow to be kind and loving spouses and fathers like you.

Thank you for all of the hours you put in at work in order to provide for our family. Thank you for getting up at 5:30 a.m. to get ready for your 7 a.m. shift and for working nearly 7 days a week each week. Thank you for spending hours a week fixing up our forever home and working outside in our yard. Thank you for playing, supporting, loving and teaching our son so many things. And lastly, thank you for being an amazing husband.

The only thing better than having you as my husband is our sons having you as their father. We are so blessed to have you!

Happy Father’s Day! We ALL love you!

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Jones Easter 2017

This Easter was so wonderful. It was full of family time, candy, Easter Egg Hunting, reflection and good food. Braxton was all about the Easter Egg Hunts this year, and he enjoyed the challenge of finding each and every egg. We had three for him because of that reason. We had one Saturday evening, one Sunday morning inside right when he woke up which lead to his Easter Basket and another one later Sunday afternoon at his grandma and grandpa’s house. The weather was beautiful, too!

 

It’s so fun to see the difference a year can make in the eyes of a toddler. He is beginning to understand the true meaning of Easter, and he participates much more in the Holiday.

He loved the Easter Basket’s he received!

He enjoyed his bubbles, gardening tools and the golf set the most! I’d be lying if I said he also didn’t thoroughly enjoy the candy.

As I mentioned, he really loved the Easter Egg hunts, especially at Grandma and Grandpa’s house!

It was a beautiful afternoon, and I’m so thankful Jason was home to enjoy it with Braxton and I.

I pray that you all had a beautiful Easter with your family and friends. I know we certainly did! God is good, and we are so thankful for the sacrifices Jesus made for us this special day and every day!

Why I Blog

Many people may be wondering why I blog? Common questions they might be asking are: Doesn’t it take up a lot of time? Do you make money off blogging? What’s the point? How do you come up with topics? Do people read your blog? Do you enjoy it?

Those are all fantastic questions, which I’ll be happy to answer, but I think you’ll find my motivation behind blogging to be different from your initial thoughts.

I started blogging several years ago, because it was my outlet for a lot of things. As I was learning things, I wanted to share those things with others. I wanted to share my experiences, my adventures, my struggles, my triumphs, my family and everything in between. I started blogging because, at the end of the day, I only wanted to help people.

I first started blogging about health and fitness, then when I got married, I focused more on marriage and teaching myself to cook. Then when we started trying for a family, my focus shifted to our struggle conceiving and our journey with infertility. Once we finally got pregnant, I start writing about my son and everything parent, DIY, crafts and kids. As you can see, my focal point for my writing has shifted a lot over the past couple years and now I incorporate everything into my blog. Some bloggers tend to focus on one thing like fashion, travel or parenting, but I found myself wanting to branch out and not get “stuck” on one general topic.

Sure, blogging takes up time. You can make money blogging if you really devote time and energy into it, and fortunately I don’t think I’ll ever run out of topics. There is so much going on all of the time that there will always be a new blog topic for me to write about. I have a relatively large following, and I really enjoy sharing my experiences, adventures, crafts, recipes, advice and more with each and every one of them.

I blog because it’s a way for me to connect with a variety of people on a variety of topics. I love it, and I plan on growing my blog tremendously over the next couple months. I can’t wait for you all to be a part of it!

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Picture Credit: Glenn Carstens-Peters (Unsplash)

To our Son on his Third Birthday

Another year has come and gone, and somehow; in the blink of an eye you are now a BIG 3 year old!

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This year, both dad and I wrote you a little note.

 

To my son, that in a blink of an eye is turning three years old. Having you in my life the past three years, has been nothing short of incredible. From being there at the very beginning and helping you with your every need: feeding,  changing, dressing and carrying you to where you are right now in your life has been an amazin journey. You are now able to do all of these things on your own. You’re also able to communicate incredibly well, count, sing parts of songs, say your ABC’s and so much more. All of those things amaze me and also frighten me at the same time, because it means that you’re growing up so fast and someday you won’t need me to help you with every day tasks. So with all that being said, I am going to try my hardest to create more and more memories with you so that when the day comes for you to go off on your own I’m not left with an empty memory jar. (*The memory jar is a jar that your mom and I fill each year full of memories or milestones that have been made throughout the year that we write down and stick into the jar. At the end of the year, we pull them out and read them off one by one.) –Dad

Braxton, you’re so lucky to have the daddy that you have. He is such an incredible dad, and he loves you so much!

Happy birthday to my sweet boy! I cannot believe that you are three. Where in the world has the time gone? There aren’t any perfect words that adequately describe the amount of love I have for you.

You are so fearless and silly. You’re sensitive, thoughtful and you have such a huge heart. You’re curious and smart and always keep your father and I on our toes! You also do all the gross things little boys do like burping, farting and spitting.

You’re growing up so quickly before our eyes, and we’re trying our best to capture each and every memory! We’ve made so many incredible memories this year, and I’m so looking forward to the memories we will make this year especially as we see you transition from an only child to a big brother come September.

Some of my favorite memories include our multiple trips to Gull Meadows and the beach. Seeing you play in the sand and water was so fun! It was hard to pry you away!  We made multiple trips to the Zoo because we all know how much you love feeding the giraffes. We made a ton of fun memories outside this past summer. We had a great 4th of July chasing hot air balloons and watching fireworks with family. We had bonfires, played in your kiddie pool, slid down your slip and slide and had endless water gun fights in the backyard. We ate a lot of ice cream and spent many many hours at the park swinging and sliding down the slides.

This winter involved lots of sledding and shoveling, since you genuinely love helping daddy shovel, and we even attempted to make a snow man. We threw lots of snowballs and went exploring through the woods as it snowed around us. Even though this winter was relatively mild, we thoroughly enjoyed what we did have.

We hit some pretty big milestones, too! You’re pretty much completely potty trained, you now sleep in a twin size big boy bed and have visited the dentist already with zero cavities! We redid your room just this week! You’re obsessed with listening to your brother/sister’s heartbeat and speak of them often. You’re talking in complete sentences (sometimes you swear…), you sing a ton of songs (especially Jingle Bells), help mommy and daddy with chores around the house, brush your own teeth and so much more. You’re in pre-preschool, and you’re so smart! You’re so independent these days, and it’s clear that we only have a little bit of time left where you will want our help with some things.  That’ll be a sad day, so until then, we’ll offer to help whenever we can!

I’m so blessed to be your momma, and I’m so glad God chose you to be my little boy. You’ve taught me so much, and I only hope I can return the favor. You make me so proud each and every day, and I love you so much! -Mom

This past year was definitely one for the books, but this year is sure to be the BEST yet.

Happy THIRD Birthday, Braxton Leland! Mommy and Daddy love you so so so much!

Here are some pictures over the past year!

2016 Reflections

For those who know me on a personal level, they understand that 2016 has been a rough year. With a job change (a good one), continued fertility struggles and a miscarriage, this year has been anything but a walk in the park. This year has been eye-opening, and I’ve learned much more that I could ever have imagined. I’ve learned that life isn’t always fair, and that there will be hard times, tears, arguments and chaos. But, you will make beautiful memories, miracles will happen, you’ll experience so much laughter, hugs and calmness.

2016 started like any other year. A clean slate, hopes, ambitions and dreams of better days ahead. There were a lot of fantastic things that happened in 2016! My older sister and her family moved back to Michigan, Mom beat cancer again, we welcome two new nephews into our family, Braxton celebrated his second birthday, I took a leap of faith and started my own business, Jason and I celebrated FIVE years of marriage, and there were a lot of other little things that happened throughout the year that overshadowed the bad. In July, Jason and I underwent our first round of IVF. It failed, and we were devastated. That was a huge financial blow and it shattered our hearts. Then in November, we did a round of FET which lead to a pregnancy, but we soon miscarried. Again, crushed, devastation, anger, extreme sadness and hopelessness ensued. For the years of infertility we have encountered, nothing can explain the excitement we had when the pregnancy tests started coming back positive. We were absolutely elated, and then just as suddenly as we found out we were expecting, we weren’t. It’s the worst feeling in the world.

As I reflect on this past year, it was easily one of the hardest years for me-if not the hardest. It was an emotional rollercoaster. I won’t completely say that the year was a bust, because it wasn’t, but I will say that I won’t miss it much. I’ll forever be grateful for each year I’m Braxton’s mommy. He is my world. He is Jason’s world also. Jason and I have begun to accept that he might be our only child as we are undecided on further fertility treatment.

Personally, I’m ready for 2017. I’m ready to thrive. I’m ready to have multiple books published, grow my business, explore and try new things, laugh more, fear less, relax, continue working out and eating healthy, work on being a better wife and mother and so much more! I’m more determined this year to accomplish the goals I have set forth for me, and can’t wait to check them off my goal list!

 

There is no denying that 2016 was better to some than for others (including myself), but 2016 did not define me. The terrible things that transpired in 2016 won’t make me lose hope. It hasn’t made me lose my faith. I won’t live in the past, but move forward positively and full of hope.

I pray that for those who struggled in 2016 that you know that God never gives you more than you can handle. If God brings you to it, He will most certainly lead you through it. I pray that 2017 is a year of growth, extreme happiness, lessons, love and laughter.

 

Wishing you and your family the very best for 2017, and thanks for following my blog and my crazy life.

 

God Bless,

Danielle

 

 

A Very Jones Christmas

The past few weeks have been crazy thus the very tardy Christmas update. We got to celebrate Christmas two weekends in a row, and we loved every minute of it. We got to see so much family, which was truly fantastic.

We had our first Christmas with Jason’s siblings on his mom’s side. It was so fun seeing the kids play together! Check out some of the pictures from our Christmas gathering!

On Christmas Eve, my family came over. As usual, we had a great time. It was so great seeing my family, and we laughed a lot, ate a lot (burnt some food), got a lot of cool gifts and enjoyed each other’s company!

I think this picture will forever be my favorite of my sister’s and I.

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Christmas Day we headed to Battle Creek to spend some time with the Jones side of the family. Again, we had a great day and got spoiled rotten.

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I got a new car for Christmas, too! Pretty snazzy huh?

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Jason has been on vacation since right before Christmas, so we have done a lot of fun things together. We went and saw the movie Passengers, which was pretty darn good. Finally got to HopCat! We enjoyed lunch at Chinn Chinn’s and tried a few other new bars in the Kalamazoo area, plus we got got some things checked off our to-do lists.

We even made a gingerbread house with Braxton! (Thanks mom!)

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We played lots of new games including Hungry Hungry Hippos, Yeti in my Spaghetti, Magformers and Memory Cards! We have had so much fun while Jason’s been on vacation! We don’t want it to end!

This Christmas was a great one. We are so happy we got to see so much family, and we are so thankful for all of the memories we made, presents we received and laughs we had together! Hope everyone had a blessed Christmas! Happy New Year!

How to be More Productive

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Photo Credit: Crew

Productivity doesn’t mean cramming as much as possible into your day day after day. It’s about spending your time wisely and prioritizing tasks.

If you’re anything like me, I’m constantly on the “go”. As a small business owner, author, work-out junkie, mother and wife, I have little time to chill, so it’s important to make the most of the time I do have to get tasks done.

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Photo Credit: Olu Eletu

Plug in Your Phone out of Arm’s Reach:

One of the first things I can recommend that will help get you up and at it in the morning is to plug your phone in somewhere that isn’t within arm’s reach. That way, when your alarm sounds, you have to begrudgingly get out of bed to turn it off. It’s easier to stay up at that point because you’ve already left the comfort of your warm bed.

Set Your Alarm for 5 Minutes Earlier

Waking up earlier can help you knock tasks out quicker. By setting your alarm for 5 minutes earlier, your body will start adjusting allowing yourself to get up without issues after a few days. You can increase the time if needed.

Use Natural Light to Wake Up

As soon as you wake up, open your curtains or blinds to let in natural light.

Exercise 

Set a routine of working on every day (if possible). Working out in the morning can help you wake up faster and provide greater amounts of energy.

Meditate

Mentally prepare for your day by meditating for 10-15 minutes. Visualizing your day can make accomplishing your tasks easier.

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Photo Credit: Arkady Lifshits

Breakfast

Never skip a morning meal. You’ve heard the saying, “Never skip breakfast because it’s the most important meal of the day”-it’s true!

Drink Water

Drinking water first thing in the morning as well as through the day helps you stay hydrated and more focused.

Set Daily Goals

Write down your daily goals and check them off as you accomplish them. There is no greater satisfaction that checking tasks off your to-do list. This also helps you stay focused.

Podcast

On your way to work, listen to a podcast that helps you focus and/or motivates you. Turn off that trashy talk radio and get inspired!

Walk/Bike or Run to Work

If possible, try walking, biking or running to work. This provides great energy and releases all the “good” feels.

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Photo Credit: Red Angelo

Minimize Distraction

Stay off social media, silence your phone and close your door. When you’re on a mission to get things done, minimizing distractions can help you get your tasks done quickly and efficiently. Also, mute background noise. If there is a TV nearby, turn it off or mute it to help resist the urge to watch whatever it on.

Avoid Heavy Lunches

You’ve probably experience that after lull when you feel tired and lethargic. You can avoid this by eating a light healthy lunch. Fuel your body with protein, veggies and fruits!

Sit by a Window

Sitting by a window can be relaxing and lead to higher productivity then sitting in a cubicle or office without a window. Venture out of your office and sit outside on a bench.

Work in Varied Environments

For me, I work from home 75% of the time, and I find myself easily distracted at times because I know that there is laundry to be done or dishes that need to be done. I can minimize the urge to take “home” things by removing myself from my home. I find that I can be more productive when working from a coffee shop or a park.

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Photo Credit: Blake Wisz

Get Active

If you have time throughout your day, escape for a quick walk to clear your mind and get some fresh air.

Celebrate Small Wins

Never forget to celebrate the small wins.

Clean your Desk

When you have a clean desk, it allows you to better focus on what’s in front of you. You’re not having to move things around to make room or find something that has been misplaced in the shuffle. Try to keep your desk clean at all times.

Get Plenty of Sleep

Try to avoid coffee 6 hours before you lay down. Also minimize TV and other devices such as an iPad or iPhone right before bed. Try reading a book before bed as it helps your mind wind down.

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It is possible to get more things done throughout the day without cramming too much in and working an insane amount of hours. By changing up a few things throughout your day, you’re able to focus on the tasks at hand and better prepare yourself to tackle your day productively and efficiently.

15 Reasons why you should give Cancers a Chance

Cancers, Crabs of the Zodiac, are those individuals who are born between June 22nd and July 22nd. Cancers are known for consistently matching their astrological sign descriptions.

Cancers have always had a very unfair reputation of being extremely moody and difficult to be with. Contrarily to popular belief, Cancer’s emotional nature can make them one of the most supportive partners you’ve every had. Take it from me, I’m a Cancer.

Here are 15 reasons to give Cancers a Chance:

1. Cancers are Intuitive and Sensitive. They are are known for being very intuitive and sensitive to the motivations and intentions of others. Because of this, they won’t put up with games. If you’re looking for someone serious about settling down, a Cancer may be your best option.

2. Cancers value family. Not only do they value their family, they also enjoy the comfort of their family, their traditions and being home with family. This may be the perfect person to bring home to mom. They won’t try and keep you from your family or make you choose between them or your family.

3. Cancers are Emotional. Cancers are known for being more emotional, but don’t let this fact deter you from being with them. They will tell you how they’re feeling and why as long as they feel safe with you enough to open up and be vulnerable with you.

4. Cancers are fiercely protective of their loves ones. Because of this, you will never have to wonder if they will be there for you when you need them. They will do whatever it takes to make you feel safe.

5. Cancers can easily sympathize and empathize with others. They are understanding and oftentimes more accepting of others. They aren’t as quick to judge others.

6. Cancers are natural nurturers. Cancers will make you feel good about yourself and will thrive while doing so. Cancers love to be needed by others.

7. Cancers are dependable. You will always be able to count on them when you need them.

8. Cancers are physically affectionate. They love to hug, kiss, cuddle and really do anything that involves touching skin. Typically Cancer’s love language is affection.

9. Cancers are Loyal and Honest. Cancers live and breath loyalty and honesty. They’ll tell you what’s on their mind, and it’s honest communication. You might not always like what they have to say, but you can always count on them to be honest. They are loyal to a fault, and will always work on the relationship.

10. Cancers take things Slow. Cancers are known for being cautious about romantic relationships and they tend to take things slow. This isn’t a bad thing. This only means that when they open up, they genuinely enjoy your company. They take declarations of love very seriously, so your actions will speak more than words.

11. Cancers are Independent. Cancers very independent, which can be intimating to some, but it also means that they’re “go-getters” and won’t relay on you for everything. They will, however, seek emotional support and encouragement from you or others from time to time.

12. Cancers are Helpers. They will go above and beyond to help others. If you’re ever in a bind, you’ll be able to depend on a Cancer to help you out.

13. Cancers are Lovers. It’s said that no other astrological sign has a greater capacity for unconditional love. Cancers love to a fault at times, but they will express their love in many different ways.

14. Cancers are free-spirited. Cancers do not like to be told what to do. It’s not that they hate authority, but they are dreamers and march to beat of their own drum. Cancers truly embrace being different.

15. Cancers are Peace-Keepers. Cancers typically are great at being unbiased in certain situations. They hate confrontation and see the good in everyone. They are capable of seeing multiple sides of every situation, and will try to diffuse the situation instead of stirring the pot.

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Picture: Ikuzo Astrology

30 Things I’ve Learned before turning 30

My 30th birthday is in a week. Eek. I’ve been dreading the whole thing for the past couple years to be completely honest. It’s a big milestone. It’s huge! I’m older. Closer to wrinkle creams, joint pains, grey hair and inevitably death if I’m being completely honest-which I am. As 30 creeps up on me, I still have dreams and goals I have yet to accomplish, but I can honestly say that I’m closer to them than I have ever been. I’m happier than I have ever been despite the hardships, the pain endured and missed opportunities. I won’t sit here and claim I have my life completely figured out, but I certainly have some of it figured out!

Here are some things I have learned over the last 10 years: 30 things I’ve learned before turning 30!

  1. Build up your own tribe. Get a couple of really good friends and keep them. You don’t need a lot of friends. Just have a few really good ones.
  2. Jealously is a waste of time and energy. There will be times when you will feel jealous, but don’t let jealously take over and stay. It’s poison, and it’s unnecessary.
  3. Strive and work daily to become a better listener. Talk less, listen more.
  4. There is a limit to having too many animals. Only take on what you can handle.
  5. Remove your makeup before bed every night. Zero exceptions.
  6. There is a song for nearly every moment in your life. Have a favorite Pandora station or playlist ready when the time is right.
  7. Marry your best friend. Do not settle for anything less than what you deserve.
  8. Ice cream during the day is always OK.
  9. Never waste a good cup of coffee. Furthermore, don’t waste your money on a crappy cup of joe.
  10. Don’t question whether you’re the best. Worry more about whether you did the best you could have done.
  11. Play hooky from time to time-it’s good for the soul.
  12. Be generous. This doesn’t always necessarily mean with money. Lending your time or talents are also ways to give back.
  13. Don’t get chocolate on your clothes-it’s nearly impossible to remove.
  14. Being scared is never a good enough excuse to not go for it.
  15. Make time to travel.
  16. Exercise so you can enjoy more wine reeses peanut butter cups and pasta.
  17. Marry someone you can talk with for hours or sit in complete silence with and still be madly in love with. There is a certain amount of contentedness that comes with both.
  18. Always do your best work. If you don’t like what you’re doing for work, find something you’ll enjoy. You’ve heard the saying “Do What You Love and You’ll Never Work a Day in Your Life..”
  19. Have a unique style. Don’t try to copy what others are doing or purchase the most expensive clothing to try and “fit in”. Be YOU.
  20. It’s OK to not have everything figured out all the time.
  21. It’s okay to cry. Don’t shut your spouse out when you really need them the most.
  22. You’re never too old to learn something new.
  23. Make it a point to make it to the Farmer’s Market each week. Support local farmers and eat healthy!
  24. Always clean up before going to bed. Give yourself more time to sleep in the next day.
  25. Get a tattoo that speaks to you. Don’t get one just to get one.
  26. Have fun with your hair. Change it up.
  27. It’s okay to be different. Don’t try to fit in. You were born to be you and no one else.
  28. Love fearlessly and believe there is good in the world.
  29. Make time for you. Don’t get so caught up in life that you don’t take care of yourself.
  30. Laugh often and live your life to the fullest.

 

For my 30th birthday, I will see myself for who I am today. I will see myself for who I choose to be. I will not let my past define me. May my 30’s be a decade of realization that I’m in control of my life. I will  love more. I will go on more adventures. I will follow my dreams. I will choose happiness. I will prosper. I will grow exponentially in all areas of my life. Life is so short. Don’t waste your time doing something that drains you and makes you unhappy. Put family first. Be ridiculously happy being YOU.

 

Hey Judge Persky, How do we explain a 6 month Rape Sentence to our Sons and Daughters?

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As a mother of a young son, there is one thing I can promise.  As my son grows and starts expressing interest in girls, I’ll explain to him how to respect them and treat them right. He will know that “no” means “no”-no exceptions. If he messes up, he will do so understanding that I will not try to defend his mistake and slam the one he hurt. I may not have a daughter currently, but that doesn’t mean that I won’t have one.

I’m having a terrible time understanding how any parent can explain a 6 month rape sentence to their child(ren). How is a 6 month sentence even considered a punishment in comparison to what the victim will live with for the rest of her life?

Recently, a judge sentenced a convicted Stanford rapist who faced a maximum sentence of 14 years in state prison to six months in county jail. Furthermore, with good behavior, he will be out in three short months.

I am appalled. A great injustice has happened to this victim. She was unconscious and he raped her. There was no consent. She didn’t know her attacker. Now she must live with the scars and the horror of what happened to her. She has to live with the fact that she has an entire lifetime to recall that tragic day and he has at most 6 months to “pay” for his actions.

The accused, Brock Turner, maintains that he intentions were never to rape an unconscious woman. This is an open and close case, right? Turner was discovered raping the woman by two men who quickly realized something was wrong and held him until the authorites came to arrest him and take the victim to the hospital. He was clearly in the wrong. He was found guilty of three of the five felonies and was charged with assault with intent to to commit rape of an intoxicated/unconscious person, penetration of an intoxicated person and penetration of an unconscious woman..all of which he CLEARLY did!

Only six months. What the hell. With good behavior, he’s expected to only serve three.

The judge argues that he didn’t feel that Turner was a threat and says that “A prison sentence would have a severe impact on him…”. Are you kidding me? This guy is basically getting a walk out of jail free card.

The judge continued to say that he felt that Turner expressed sincere remorse for his actions even sharing that he planned on starting a cause that will teach and educated college students about the effects of excessive drinking and sexual promiscuity.

Keep in mind, it’s said that the judge was a former Stanford athlete as well.

Hmm, something doesn’t quite add up here..

Let us all remember that sexual promiscuity has absolutely nothing to do with rape. Turner will not be serving time for being sexually promiscuous and drunk. He is serving time for rape. RAPE for heaven’s sake!

The Apple must not fall far from the tree, because Turner’s father wrote a letter is his son’s defense claiming that his son’s sentence was “‘A steep price to pay for 20 minutes of action’.

Are you serious? How can any father in their right mind downplay such a crime?

The victim chose to address her attacker and read this note.

*Grab your tissues*

Your honor,

If it is all right, for the majority of this statement I would like to address the defendant directly.

You don’t know me, but you’ve been inside me, and that’s why we’re here today.

On January 17th, 2015, it was a quiet Saturday night at home. My dad made some dinner and I sat at the table with my younger sister who was visiting for the weekend. I was working full time and it was approaching my bed time. I planned to stay at home by myself, watch some TV and read, while she went to a party with her friends. Then, I decided it was my only night with her, I had nothing better to do, so why not, there’s a dumb party ten minutes from my house, I would go, dance weird like a fool, and embarrass my younger sister. On the way there, I joked that undergrad guys would have braces. My sister teased me for wearing a beige cardigan to a frat party like a librarian. I called myself “big mama”, because I knew I’d be the oldest one there. I made silly faces, let my guard down, and drank liquor too fast not factoring in that my tolerance had significantly lowered since college.

The next thing I remember I was in a gurney in a hallway. I had dried blood and bandages on the backs of my hands and elbow. I thought maybe I had fallen and was in an admin office on campus. I was very calm and wondering where my sister was. A deputy explained I had been assaulted. I still remained calm, assured he was speaking to the wrong person. I knew no one at this party. When I was finally allowed to use the restroom, I pulled down the hospital pants they had given me, went to pull down my underwear, and felt nothing. I still remember the feeling of my hands touching my skin and grabbing nothing. I looked down and there was nothing. The thin piece of fabric, the only thing between my vagina and anything else, was missing and everything inside me was silenced. I still don’t have words for that feeling. In order to keep breathing, I thought maybe the policemen used scissors to cut them off for evidence.

Then, I felt pine needles scratching the back of my neck and started pulling them out my hair. I thought maybe, the pine needles had fallen from a tree onto my head. My brain was talking my gut into not collapsing. Because my gut was saying, help me, help me.

I shuffled from room to room with a blanket wrapped around me, pine needles trailing behind me, I left a little pile in every room I sat in. I was asked to sign papers that said “Rape Victim” and I thought something has really happened. My clothes were confiscated and I stood naked while the nurses held a ruler to various abrasions on my body and photographed them. The three of us worked to comb the pine needles out of my hair, six hands to fill one paper bag. To calm me down, they said it’s just the flora and fauna, flora and fauna. I had multiple swabs inserted into my vagina and anus, needles for shots, pills, had a nikon pointed right into my spread legs. I had long, pointed beaks inside me and had my vagina smeared with cold, blue paint to check for abrasions.

After a few hours of this, they let me shower. I stood there examining my body beneath the stream of water and decided, I don’t want my body anymore. I was terrified of it, I didn’t know what had been in it, if it had been contaminated, who had touched it. I wanted to take off my body like a jacket and leave it at the hospital with everything else.

On that morning, all that I was told was that I had been found behind a dumpster, potentially penetrated by a stranger, and that I should get retested for HIV because results don’t always show up immediately. But for now, I should go home and get back to my normal life. Imagine stepping back into the world with only that information. They gave me huge hugs, and then I walked out of the hospital into the parking lot wearing the new sweatshirt and sweatpants they provided me, as they had only allowed me to keep my necklace and shoes.

My sister picked me up, face wet from tears and contorted in anguish. Instinctively and immediately, I wanted to take away her pain. I smiled at her, I told her to look at me, I’m right here, I’m okay, everything’s okay, I’m right here. My hair is washed and clean, they gave me the strangest shampoo, calm down, and look at me. Look at these funny new sweatpants and sweatshirt, I look like a P.E. teacher, let’s go home, let’s eat something. She did not know that beneath my sweats, I had scratches and bandages on my skin, my vagina was sore and had become a strange, dark color from all the prodding, my underwear was missing, and I felt too empty to continue to speak. That I was also afraid, that I was also devastated. That day we drove home and for hours my sister held me.

My boyfriend did not know what happened, but called that day and said, “I was really worried about you last night, you scared me, did you make it home okay?” I was horrified. That’s when I learned I had called him that night in my blackout, left an incomprehensible voicemail, that we had also spoken on the phone, but I was slurring so heavily he was scared for me, that he repeatedly told me to go find my sister. Again, he asked me, “What happened last night? Did you make it home okay?” I said yes, and hung up to cry.

I was not ready to tell my boyfriend or parents that actually, I may have been raped behind a dumpster, but I don’t know by who or when or how. If I told them, I would see the fear on their faces, and mine would multiply by tenfold, so instead I pretended the whole thing wasn’t real.

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. For one week after the incident, I didn’t get any calls or updates about that night or what happened to me. The only symbol that proved that it hadn’t just been a bad dream, was the sweatshirt from the hospital in my drawer.

One day, I was at work, scrolling through the news on my phone, and came across an article. In it, I read and learned for the first time about how I was found unconscious, with my hair disheveled, long necklace wrapped around my neck, bra pulled out of my dress, dress pulled off over my shoulders and pulled up above my waist, that I was butt naked all the way down to my boots, legs spread apart, and had been penetrated by a foreign object by someone I did not recognize. This was how I learned what happened to me, sitting at my desk reading the news at work. I learned what happened to me the same time everyone else in the world learned what happened to me. That’s when the pine needles in my hair made sense, they didn’t fall from a tree. He had taken off my underwear, his fingers had been inside of me. I don’t even know this person. I still don’t know this person. When I read about me like this, I said, this can’t be me.

This can’t be me. I could not digest or accept any of this information. I could not imagine my family having to read about this online. I kept reading. In the next paragraph, I read something that I will never forgive; I read that according to him, I liked it. I liked it. Again, I do not have words for these feelings.

At the bottom of the article, after I learned about the graphic details of my own sexual assault, the article listed his swimming times. She was found breathing, unresponsive with her underwear six inches away from her bare stomach curled in fetal position. By the way, he’s really good at swimming. Throw in my mile time if that’s what we’re doing. I’m good at cooking, put that in there, I think the end is where you list your extra-curriculars to cancel out all the sickening things that’ve happened.

The night the news came out I sat my parents down and told them that I had been assaulted, to not look at the news because it’s upsetting, just know that I’m okay, I’m right here, and I’m okay. But halfway through telling them, my mom had to hold me because I could no longer stand up. I was not okay.

The night after it happened, he said he didn’t know my name, said he wouldn’t be able to identify my face in a lineup, didn’t mention any dialogue between us, no words, only dancing and kissing. Dancing is a cute term; was it snapping fingers and twirling dancing, or just bodies grinding up against each other in a crowded room? I wonder if kissing was just faces sloppily pressed up against each other? When the detective asked if he had planned on taking me back to his dorm, he said no. When the detective asked how we ended up behind the dumpster, he said he didn’t know. He admitted to kissing other girls at that party, one of whom was my own sister who pushed him away. He admitted to wanting to hook up with someone. I was the wounded antelope of the herd, completely alone and vulnerable, physically unable to fend for myself, and he chose me. Sometimes I think, if I hadn’t gone, then this never would’ve happened. But then I realized, it would have happened, just to somebody else. You were about to enter four years of access to drunk girls and parties, and if this is the foot you started off on, then it is right you did not continue.

The night after it happened, he said he thought I liked it because I rubbed his back. A back rub. Never mentioned me voicing consent, never mentioned us speaking, a back rub.

One more time, in public news, I learned that my [buttocks] and vagina were completely exposed outside, my breasts had been groped, fingers had been jabbed inside me along with pine needles and debris, my bare skin and head had been rubbing against the ground behind a dumpster, while an erect freshman was humping my half naked, unconscious body. But I don’t remember, so how do I prove I didn’t like it.

I thought there’s no way this is going to trial; there were witnesses, there was dirt in my body, he ran but was caught. He’s going to settle, formally apologize, and we will both move on. Instead, I was told he hired a powerful attorney, expert witnesses, private investigators who were going to try and find details about my personal life to use against me, find loopholes in my story to invalidate me and my sister, in order to show that this sexual assault was in fact a misunderstanding. That he was going to go to any length to convince the world he had simply been confused.

I was not only told that I was assaulted, I was told that because I couldn’t remember, I technically could not prove it was unwanted. And that distorted me, damaged me, almost broke me. It is the saddest type of confusion to be told I was assaulted and nearly raped, blatantly out in the open, but we don’t know if it counts as assault yet. I had to fight for an entire year to make it clear that there was something wrong with this situation.

When I was told to be prepared in case we didn’t win, I said, I can’t prepare for that. He was guilty the minute I woke up. No one can talk me out of the hurt he caused me. Worst of all, I was warned, because he now knows you don’t remember, he is going to get to write the script. He can say whatever he wants and no one can contest it. I had no power, I had no voice, I was defenseless. My memory loss would be used against me. My testimony was weak, was incomplete, and I was made to believe that perhaps, I am not enough to win this. That’s so damaging. His attorney constantly reminded the jury, the only one we can believe is Brock, because she doesn’t remember. That helplessness was traumatizing.

Instead of taking time to heal, I was taking time to recall the night in excruciating detail, in order to prepare for the attorney’s questions that would be invasive, aggressive, and designed to steer me off course, to contradict myself, my sister, phrased in ways to manipulate my answers. Instead of his attorney saying, Did you notice any abrasions? He said, You didn’t notice any abrasions, right? This was a game of strategy, as if I could be tricked out of my own worth. The sexual assault had been so clear, but instead, here I was at the trial, answering question like:

How old are you? How much do you weigh? What did you eat that day? Well what did you have for dinner? Who made dinner? Did you drink with dinner? No, not even water? When did you drink? How much did you drink? What container did you drink out of? Who gave you the drink? How much do you usually drink? Who dropped you off at this party? At what time? But where exactly? What were you wearing? Why were you going to this party? What’d you do when you got there? Are you sure you did that? But what time did you do that? What does this text mean? Who were you texting? When did you urinate? Where did you urinate? With whom did you urinate outside? Was your phone on silent when your sister called? Do you remember silencing it? Really because on page 53 I’d like to point out that you said it was set to ring. Did you drink in college? You said you were a party animal? How many times did you black out? Did you party at frats? Are you serious with your boyfriend? Are you sexually active with him? When did you start dating? Would you ever cheat? Do you have a history of cheating? What do you mean when you said you wanted to reward him? Do you remember what time you woke up? Were you wearing your cardigan? What color was your cardigan? Do you remember any more from that night? No? Okay, we’ll let Brock fill it in.

I was pummeled with narrowed, pointed questions that dissected my personal life, love life, past life, family life, inane questions, accumulating trivial details to try and find an excuse for this guy who didn’t even take the time to ask me for my name, who had me naked a handful of minutes after seeing me. After a physical assault, I was assaulted with questions designed to attack me, to say see, her facts don’t line up, she’s out of her mind, she’s practically an alcoholic, she probably wanted to hook up, he’s like an athlete right, they were both drunk, whatever, the hospital stuff she remembers is after the fact, why take it into account, Brock has a lot at stake so he’s having a really hard time right now.

And then it came time for him to testify. This is where I became revictimized. I want to remind you, the night after it happened he said he never planned to take me back to his dorm. He said he didn’t know why we were behind a dumpster. He got up to leave because he wasn’t feeling well when he was suddenly chased and attacked. Then he learned I could not remember.

So one year later, as predicted, a new dialogue emerged. Brock had a strange new story, almost sounded like a poorly written young adult novel with kissing and dancing and hand holding and lovingly tumbling onto the ground, and most importantly in this new story, there was suddenly consent. One year after the incident, he remembered, oh yeah, by the way she actually said yes, to everything, so.

He said he had asked if I wanted to dance. Apparently I said yes. He’d asked if I wanted to go to his dorm, I said yes. Then he asked if he could finger me and I said yes. Most guys don’t ask, Can I finger you? Usually there’s a natural progression of things, unfolding consensually, not a Q and A. But apparently I granted full permission. He’s in the clear.

Even in this story, there’s barely any dialogue; I only said a total of three words before he had me half naked on the ground. I have never been penetrated after three words. He didn’t claim to hear me speak one full sentence that night, so in the news when it says we “met”, I’m not sure I would go so far as to say that. Future reference, if you are confused about whether a girl can consent, see if she can speak an entire sentence. You couldn’t even do that. Just one coherent string of words. If she can’t do that, then no. Don’t touch her, just no. Not maybe, just no. Where was the confusion? This is common sense, human decency.

According to him, the only reason we were on the ground was because I fell down. Note; if a girl falls help her get back up. If she is too drunk to even walk and falls, do not mount her, hump her, take off her underwear, and insert your hand inside her vagina. If a girl falls help her up. If she is wearing a cardigan over her dress don’t take it off so that you can touch her breasts. Maybe she is cold, maybe that’s why she wore the cardigan. If her bare [buttocks] and legs are rubbing the pinecones and needles, while the weight of you pushes into her, get off her.

Next in the story, two people approached you. You ran because you said you felt scared. I argue that you were scared because you’d be caught, not because you were scared of two terrifying Swedish grad students. The idea that you thought you were being attacked out of the blue was ludicrous. That it had nothing to do with you being on top my unconscious body. You were caught red handed, with no explanation. When they tackled you why didn’t say, “Stop! Everything’s okay, go ask her, she’s right over there, she’ll tell you.” I mean you had just asked for my consent, right? I was awake, right? When the policeman arrived and interviewed the evil Swede who tackled you, he was crying so hard he couldn’t speak because of what he’d seen. Also, if you really did think they were dangerous, you just abandoned a half-naked girl to run and save yourself. No matter which way you frame it, it doesn’t make sense.

Your attorney has repeatedly pointed out, well we don’t know exactly when she became unconscious. And you’re right, maybe I was still fluttering my eyes and wasn’t completely limp yet, fine. His guilt did not depend on him knowing the exact second that I became unconscious, that is never what this was about. I was slurring, too drunk to consent way before I was on the ground. I should have never been touched in the first place. Brock stated, “At no time did I see that she was not responding. If at any time I thought she was not responding, I would have stopped immediately.” Here’s the thing; if your plan was to stop only when I was literally unresponsive, then you still do not understand. You didn’t even stop when I was unconscious anyway! Someone else stopped you. Two guys on bikes noticed I wasn’t moving in the dark and had to tackle you. How did you not notice while on top of me?

You said, you would have stopped and gotten help. You say that, but I want you to explain how you would’ve helped me, step by step, walk me through this. I want to know, if those evil Swedes had not found me, how the night would have played out. I am asking you; Would you have pulled my underwear back on over my boots? Untangled the necklace wrapped around my neck? Closed my legs, covered me? Tucked my bra back into my dress? Would you have helped me pick the needles from my hair? Asked if the abrasions on my neck and bottom hurt? Would you then go find a friend and say, Will you help me get her somewhere warm and soft? I don’t sleep when I think about the way it could have gone if the Swedes had never come. What would have happened to me? That’s what you’ll never have a good answer for, that’s what you can’t explain even after a year.

To sit under oath and inform all of us, that yes I wanted it, yes I permitted it, and that you are the true victim attacked by guys for reasons unknown to you is sick, is demented, is selfish, is stupid. It shows that you were willing to go to any length, to discredit me, invalidate me, and explain why it was okay to hurt me. You tried unyieldingly to save yourself, your reputation, at my expense.

My family had to see pictures of my head strapped to a gurney full of pine needles, of my body in the dirt with my eyes closed, dress hiked up, limbs limp in the dark. And then even after that, my family had to listen to your attorney say, the pictures were after the fact, we can dismiss them. To say, yes her nurse confirmed there was redness and abrasions inside her, but that’s what happens when you finger someone, and he’s already admitted to that. To listen to him use my own sister against me. To listen him attempt to paint of a picture of me, the seductive party animal, as if somehow that would make it so that I had this coming for me. To listen to him say I sounded drunk on the phone because I’m silly and that’s my goofy way of speaking. To point out that in the voicemail, I said I would reward my boyfriend and we all know what I was thinking. I assure you my rewards program is non-transferable, especially to any nameless man that approaches me.

The point is, this is everything my family and I endured during the trial. This is everything I had to sit through silently, taking it, while he shaped the evening. It is enough to be suffering. It is another thing to have someone ruthlessly working to diminish the gravity and validity of this suffering. But in the end, his unsupported statements and his attorney’s twisted logic fooled no one. The truth won, the truth spoke for itself.

You are guilty. Twelve jurors convicted you guilty of three felony counts beyond reasonable doubt, that’s twelve votes per count, thirty-six yeses confirming guilt, that’s one hundred percent, unanimous guilt. And I thought finally it is over, finally he will own up to what he did, truly apologize, we will both move on and get better. Then I read your statement.

If you are hoping that one of my organs will implode from anger and I will die, I’m almost there. You are very close. Assault is not an accident. This is not a story of another drunk college hookup with poor decision making. Somehow, you still don’t get it. Somehow, you still sound confused.

I will now take this opportunity to read portions of the defendant’s statement and respond to them.

You said, Being drunk I just couldn’t make the best decisions and neither could she.

Alcohol is not an excuse. Is it a factor? Yes. But alcohol was not the one who stripped me, fingered me, had my head dragging against the ground, with me almost fully naked. Having too much to drink was an amateur mistake that I admit to, but it is not criminal. Everyone in this room has had a night where they have regretted drinking too much, or knows someone close to them who has had a night where they have regretted drinking too much. Regretting drinking is not the same as regretting sexual assault. We were both drunk, the difference is I did not take off your pants and underwear, touch you inappropriately, and run away. That’s the difference.

You said, If I wanted to get to know her, I should have asked for her number, rather than asking her to go back to my room.

I’m not mad because you didn’t ask for my number. Even if you did know me, I would not want [to] be in this situation. My own boyfriend knows me, but if he asked to finger me behind a dumpster, I would slap him. No girl wants to be in this situation. Nobody. I don’t care if you know their phone number or not.

You said, I stupidly thought it was okay for me to do what everyone around me was doing, which was drinking. I was wrong.

Again, you were not wrong for drinking. Everyone around you was not sexually assaulting me. You were wrong for doing what nobody else was doing, which was pushing your erect [penis] in your pants against my naked, defenseless body concealed in a dark area, where partygoers could no longer see or protect me, and own my sister could not find me. Sipping fireball is not your crime. Peeling off and discarding my underwear like a candy wrapper to insert your finger into my body, is where you went wrong. Why am I still explaining this.

You said, During the trial I didn’t want to victimize her at all. That was just my attorney and his way of approaching the case.

Your attorney is not your scapegoat, he represents you. Did your attorney say some incredulously infuriating, degrading things? Absolutely. He said you had an erection, because it was cold. I have no words.

You said, you are in the process of establishing a program for high school and college students in which you speak about your experience to “speak out against the college campus drinking culture and the sexual promiscuity that goes along with that.”

Speak out against campus drinking culture. That’s what we’re speaking out against? You think that’s what I’ve spent the past year fighting for? Not awareness about campus sexual assault, or rape, or learning to recognize consent. Campus drinking culture. Down with Jack Daniels. Down with Skyy Vodka. If you want talk to high school kids about drinking go to an AA meeting. You realize, having a drinking problem is different than drinking and then forcefully trying to have sex with someone? Show men how to respect women, not how to drink less.

Drinking culture and the sexual promiscuity that goes along with that. Goes along with that, like a side effect, like fries on the side of your order. Where does promiscuity even come into play? I don’t see headlines that read, Brock Turner, Guilty of drinking too much and the sexual promiscuity that goes along with that. Campus [Sexual] Assault. There’s your first powerpoint slide.

I have done enough explaining. You do not get to shrug your shoulders and be confused anymore. You do not get to pretend that there were no red flags. You do not get to not know why you ran. You have been convicted of violating me with malicious intent, and all you can admit to is consuming alcohol. Do not talk about the sad way your life was upturned because alcohol made you do bad things. Figure out how to take responsibility for your own conduct.

Lastly you said, I want to show people that one night of drinking can ruin a life.

Ruin a life, one life, yours, you forgot about mine. Let me rephrase for you, I want to show people that one night of drinking can ruin two lives. You and me. You are the cause, I am the effect. You have dragged me through this hell with you, dipped me back into that night again and again. You knocked down both our towers, I collapsed at the same time you did. Your damage was concrete; stripped of titles, degrees, enrollment. My damage was internal, unseen, I carry it with me. You took away my worth, my privacy, my energy, my time, my safety, my intimacy, my confidence, my own voice, until today.

See one thing we have in common is that we were both unable to get up in the morning. I am no stranger to suffering. You made me a victim. In newspapers my name was “unconscious intoxicated woman”, ten syllables, and nothing more than that. For a while, I believed that that was all I was. I had to force myself to relearn my real name, my identity. To relearn that this is not all that I am. That I am not just a drunk victim at a frat party found behind a dumpster, while you are the All-American swimmer at a top university, innocent until proven guilty, with so much at stake. I am a human being who has been irreversibly hurt, who waited a year to figure out if I was worth something.

My independence, natural joy, gentleness, and steady lifestyle I had been enjoying became distorted beyond recognition. I became closed off, angry, self-deprecating, tired, irritable, empty. The isolation at times was unbearable. You cannot give me back the life I had before that night either. While you worry about your shattered reputation, I refrigerated spoons every night so when I woke up, and my eyes were puffy from crying, I would hold the spoons to my eyes to lessen the swelling so that I could see. I showed up an hour late to work every morning, excused myself to cry in the stairwells, I can tell you all the best places in that building to cry where no one can hear you, the pain became so bad that I had to tell my boss I was leaving, I needed time because continuing day to day was not possible. I used my savings to go as far away as I could possibly be.

I can’t sleep alone at night without having a light on, like a five year old, because I have nightmares of being touched where I cannot wake up, I did this thing where I waited until the sun came up and I felt safe enough to sleep. For three months, I went to bed at six o’clock in the morning.

I used to pride myself on my independence, now I am afraid to go on walks in the evening, to attend social events with drinking among friends where I should be comfortable being. I have become a little barnacle always needing to be at someone’s side, to have my boyfriend standing next to me, sleeping beside me, protecting me. It is embarrassing how feeble I feel, how timidly I move through life, always guarded, ready to defend myself, ready to be angry.

You have no idea how hard I have worked to rebuild parts of me that are still weak. It took me eight months to even talk about what happened. I could no longer connect with friends, with everyone around me. I would scream at my boyfriend, my own family whenever they brought this up. You never let me forget what happened to me. At the of end of the hearing, the trial, I was too tired to speak. I would leave drained, silent. I would go home turn off my phone and for days I would not speak. You bought me a ticket to a planet where I lived by myself. Every time a new article [would] come out, I lived with the paranoia that my entire hometown would find out and know me as the girl who got assaulted. I didn’t want anyone’s pity and am still learning to accept victim as part of my identity. You made my own hometown an uncomfortable place to be.

Someday, you can pay me back for my ambulance ride and therapy. But you cannot give me back my sleepless nights. The way I have broken down sobbing uncontrollably if I’m watching a movie and a woman is harmed, to say it lightly, this experience has expanded my empathy for other victims. I have lost weight from stress, when people would comment I told them I’ve been running a lot lately. There are times I did not want to be touched. I have to relearn that I am not fragile, I am capable, I am wholesome, not just livid and weak.

I want to say this. All the crying, the hurting you have imposed on me, I can take it. But when I see my younger sister hurting, when she is unable to keep up in school, when she is deprived of joy, when she is not sleeping, when she is crying so hard on the phone she is barely breathing, telling me over and over she is sorry for leaving me alone that night, sorry sorry sorry, when she feels more guilt than you, then I do not forgive you. That night I had called her to try and find her, but you found me first. Your attorney’s closing statement began, “My sister said she was fine and who knows her better than her sister.” You tried to use my own sister against me. Your points of attack were so weak, so low, it was almost embarrassing. You do not touch her.

If you think I was spared, came out unscathed, that today I ride off into sunset, while you suffer the greatest blow, you are mistaken. Nobody wins. We have all been devastated, we have all been trying to find some meaning in all of this suffering.

You should have never done this to me. Secondly, you should have never made me fight so long to tell you, you should have never done this to me. But here we are. The damage is done, no one can undo it. And now we both have a choice. We can let this destroy us, I can remain angry and hurt and you can be in denial, or we can face it head on, I accept the pain, you accept the punishment, and we move on.

Your life is not over, you have decades of years ahead to rewrite your story. The world is huge, it is so much bigger than Palo Alto and Stanford, and you will make a space for yourself in it where you can be useful and happy. Right now your name is tainted, so I challenge you to make a new name for yourself, to do something so good for the world, it blows everyone away. You have a brain and a voice and a heart. Use them wisely. You possess immense love from your family. That alone can pull you out of anything. Mine has held me up through all of this. Yours will hold you and you will go on.

I believe, that one day, you will understand all of this better. I hope you will become a better more honest person who can properly use this story to prevent another story like this from ever happening again. I fully support your journey to healing, to rebuilding your life, because that is the only way you’ll begin to help others.

Now to address the sentencing. When I read the probation officer’s report, I was in disbelief, consumed by anger which eventually quieted down to profound sadness. My statements have been slimmed down to distortion and taken out of context. I fought hard during this trial and will not have the outcome minimized by a probation officer who attempted to evaluate my current state and my wishes in a fifteen minute conversation, the majority of which was spent answering questions I had about the legal system. The context is also important. Brock had yet to issue a statement, and I had not read his remarks.

My life has been on hold for over a year, a year of anger, anguish and uncertainty, until a jury of my peers rendered a judgment that validated the injustices I had endured. Had Brock admitted guilt and remorse and offered to settle early on, I would have considered a lighter sentence, respecting his honesty, grateful to be able to move our lives forward. Instead he took the risk of going to trial, added insult to injury and forced me to relive the hurt as details about my personal life and sexual assault were brutally dissected before the public. He pushed me and my family through a year of inexplicable, unnecessary suffering, and should face the consequences of challenging his crime, of putting my pain into question, of making us wait so long for justice.

I told the probation officer I do not want Brock to rot away in prison. I did not say he does not deserve to be behind bars. The probation officer’s recommendation of a year or less in county jail is a soft time-out, a mockery of the seriousness of his assaults, and of the consequences of the pain I have been forced to endure. I also told the probation officer that what I truly wanted was for Brock to get it, to understand and admit to his wrongdoing.

Unfortunately, after reading the defendant’s statement, I am severely disappointed and feel that he has failed to exhibit sincere remorse or responsibility for his conduct. I fully respected his right to a trial, but even after twelve jurors unanimously convicted him guilty of three felonies, all he has admitted to doing is ingesting alcohol. Someone who cannot take full accountability for his actions does not deserve a mitigating sentence. It is deeply offensive that he would try and dilute rape with a suggestion of promiscuity. By definition rape is the absence of promiscuity, rape is the absence of consent, and it perturbs me deeply that he can’t even see that distinction.

The probation officer factored in that the defendant is youthful and has no prior convictions. In my opinion, he is old enough to know what he did was wrong. When you are eighteen in this country you can go to war. When you are nineteen, you are old enough to pay the consequences for attempting to rape someone. He is young, but he is old enough to know better.

As this is a first offense I can see where leniency would beckon. On the other hand, as a society, we cannot forgive everyone’s first sexual assault or digital rape. It doesn’t make sense. The seriousness of rape has to be communicated clearly, we should not create a culture that suggests we learn that rape is wrong through trial and error. The consequences of sexual assault needs to be severe enough that people feel enough fear to exercise good judgment even if they are drunk, severe enough to be preventative. The fact that Brock was a star athlete at a prestigious university should not be seen as an entitlement to leniency, but as an opportunity to send a strong cultural message that sexual assault is against the law regardless of social class.

The probation officer weighed the fact that he has surrendered a hard earned swimming scholarship. If I had been sexually assaulted by an un-athletic guy from a community college, what would his sentence be? If a first time offender from an underprivileged background was accused of three felonies and displayed no accountability for his actions other than drinking, what would his sentence be? How fast he swims does not lessen the impact of what happened to me.

The Probation Officer has stated that this case, when compared to other crimes of similar nature, may be considered less serious due to the defendant’s level of intoxication. It felt serious. That’s all I’m going to say.

He is a lifetime sex registrant. That doesn’t expire. Just like what he did to me doesn’t expire, doesn’t just go away after a set number of years. It stays with me, it’s part of my identity, it has forever changed the way I carry myself, the way I live the rest of my life.

A year has gone by and he has had lots of time on his hands. Has he been seeing a psychologist? What has he done in this past year to show he’s been progressing? If he says he wants to implement programs, what has he done to show for it?

Throughout incarceration I hope he is provided with appropriate therapy and resources to rebuild his life. I request that he educates himself about the issue of campus sexual assault. I hope he accepts proper punishment and pushes himself to reenter society as a better person.

To conclude, I want to say thank you. To everyone from the intern who made me oatmeal when I woke up at the hospital that morning, to the deputy who waited beside me, to the nurses who calmed me, to the detective who listened to me and never judged me, to my advocates who stood unwaveringly beside me, to my therapist who taught me to find courage in vulnerability, to my boss for being kind and understanding, to my incredible parents who teach me how to turn pain into strength, to my friends who remind me how to be happy, to my boyfriend who is patient and loving, to my unconquerable sister who is the other half of my heart, to Alaleh, my idol, who fought tirelessly and never doubted me. Thank you to everyone involved in the trial for their time and attention. Thank you to girls across the nation that wrote cards to my DA to give to me, so many strangers who cared for me.

Most importantly, thank you to the two men who saved me, who I have yet to meet. I sleep with two bicycles that I drew taped above my bed to remind myself there are heroes in this story. That we are looking out for one another. To have known all of these people, to have felt their protection and love, is something I will never forget.

And finally, to girls everywhere, I am with you. On nights when you feel alone, I am with you. When people doubt you or dismiss you, I am with you. I fought everyday for you. So never stop fighting, I believe you. Lighthouses don’t go running all over an island looking for boats to save; they just stand there shining. Although I can’t save every boat, I hope that by speaking today, you absorbed a small amount of light, a small knowing that you can’t be silenced, a small satisfaction that justice was served, a small assurance that we are getting somewhere, and a big, big knowing that you are important, unquestionably, you are untouchable, you are beautiful, you are to be valued, respected, undeniably, every minute of every day, you are powerful and nobody can take that away from you. To girls everywhere, I am with you. Thank you.

This story, this heartbreaking crime against this young woman, has my stomach in knots. I’m dumbfounded how Judge Persky would consider the sentence against Brock Turner harsh enough to fit the crime against this young woman.

I am disgusted with Judge Persky’s lenient rape sentencing. If you feel that Judge Persky should be reprimanded for his injustice of a punishment, I encourage you to sign this petition.