After the pushback against the #MeToo movement, the abuse against gymnasts at the hands at Larry Nassar, Brock Turner, Kesha's case against Dr. Luke, Dr. Blasey Ford's case against Kavanaugh and Anita Hill's case against Clarence Thomas, I thought I had reached my point of pure disgust at the way sexual violence is handled in this country.
I was wrong.
The case of Cyntoia Brown has been brought back to light because of a clemency hearing. If you haven't heard, back in 2004, Brown killed the man in self-defense in the heat of the moment who bought her and raped her. She had been living a life of rape, drugging, emotional abuse, and forced prostitution for years and once she finally had the opportunity to defend herself from what she expected to be her own murder, she was arrested. She was in survival mode. Now, she's set to be on a life sentence of 51 years, leaving her unable to have the chance of parole until age 69.
All I can say is, no wonder survivors of abuse and sexual assault don't defend themselves or report. To those of you who didn't know or refuse to listen, please listen and try to learn today. Brown was a 16-year-old girl who had been revictimized, abused and was facing death. She was terrified, leaning on coping mechanisms such as laughter to keep her alive in the midst of utter trauma. She did her best to survive and find safety.
During the time she's already spent in prison, she's worked towards an associate's degree, in which she has a 4.0 GPA. She encourages others to keep up with their education. Even the previous prosecutor of her case believes she deserves a second chance. An entire family is willing to have her stay with them because they love and respect her so much. People with all kinds of backgrounds have fought for her and her rights.
But now, she will serve 51 years (!!!!) in prison, which is the most excessive, egregious, disgusting thing I can imagine, especially since aspects like her mental health issues weren't discussed in the case. I know I can be dramatic to be funny sometimes, but I wholeheartedly mean every single word and adjective I say here.
I say these things as a survivor, but more importantly, as a human being. I say these things because I have empathy and because like everyone else, I have been hurt and scared and have endured tough struggles and pain.
The release of Brown is now in the hands of Bill Haslam, the governor of Tennessee. I urge you all to call him and support the immediate release of Brown. His phone number and what to say are listed on this website.
If you stand on the side of justice, if you realize the importance of context, if you couldn't look Cyntoia's 16-year-old self in the eyes and tell her she's a murderer, please sign this petition as call Haslam as mentioned above, and raise awareness of this sickening issue through social media, group chats, daily conversations, organizations you're involved in and more.
Between a traumatized, abused minor and a man who committed what's considered one of the most heinous and torturous of crimes, who do you stand for?