Patricia Fortlage

Life Sentence - the after effects of sexual assault
Location: San Diego
Nationality: US
Biography: Patricia Fortlage is a female empowerment photographic long-form storyteller and fine art photographer.  From her core belief that if you invest in women and girls, entire communities will be raised, Patricia has focused much of her... read on
Public Story
Life Sentence - the after effects of sexual assault

Brock Turner was a swimmer at Stanford University in 2015 when he sexually assaulted a 23-year old female student.  He was sentenced on June 2, 2016, to six months' incarceration in the Santa Clara County jail to be followed by three years of probation. He was released three months early.  The judge, Aaron Persky, cited that prison time could have a “severe” impact on Turner’s life as the reasoning behind the lenient six-month sentence.

When I saw the sentence that Brock Turner received for sexually assaulting “Emily Doe,” my heart broke.  She will be living with the aftermath of Mr. Turner’s actions for the rest of her life, whereas he received barely a slap on the wrist.  How could this be?  Perhaps there isn’t strong public knowledge of the life-long effects for sexual assault victims?  There is certainly some data out there on the effects of sexual assault, and the #MeToo movement brought to light the vast numbers of women affected… so THOSE women know.   Are we just not talking about it, or do we just not care?  What would make us care?  What would make judges and juries deliver sentences more comparable to the crime?  Would a picture of a 42-year-old woman sleeping in her closet for over ten years because she needs to feel cocooned in safety do it? Or how about the woman looking in the mirror but sees no reflection back because her body no longer belongs to her?  Would that do it?   Or broken relationships and the difficulty of trust and fear of intimacy? Shame and embarrassment leading to an unwillingness to report or share? Ongoing depression and suicidal thoughts?  Would that do it? 

I am angry about how sexual predators often get a mild sentence when convicted of assault, all the while the survivor usually lives with the trauma in horribly disturbing ways... and often for the rest of her life. A life sentence for the survivor, and merely a slap on the wrist for the predator.  People need to know the severity and the longevity of the trauma. And we need to pressure judges and juries to deliver sentences more comparable to that severity and longevity. These images are only the beginning.  Get more detail at


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