In January 2015, two Standford University students found a freshman raping an unconscious woman behind a dumpster on campus. In March of this year, Brock Turner was found guilty on three counts of sexual assault. Though the maximum penalty for this crime is 14 years in prison, the judge sentenced him to 6 months in county jail because the he was afraid of the impact that a long sentence would have on the Stanford swimmer. On top of this, he was released after only 3 months for good behavior.

The fact is that yes, this was a case of white privilege. Yes, this was a case of power and money winning out over humanity and basic rights. But pointing the finger doesn’t change what happened. Bringing Turner to justice is fair, but it doesn’t take away what his victim has suffered and what she will continue to deal with for the rest of her life.

Our world is a cruel and unfair one. We take steps forward as a society, but the reality is that we can’t change this world on our own.

There are some things, however that we do have the power to control. We control our impulses, our decisions, our reactions. We control our individual part in every situation and we control how we move forward from the tragedies that the world throws at us.

We have focused so much on Brock Turner and the injustice of the length of his time in jail, but what about the victim? Not only is she faced with the aftermath of a horrendous situation now, but what was she facing the night that all of this happened?

There is a difference between drinking on a night out with friends and drinking to the point of unconsciousness. When we drink to that level, it becomes a symptom of something bigger. Every emotion we have, good or bad, leads to behaviors that transform us in one way or another. There are moments in which our loved ones turn to alcohol, drugs, or anger as an escape from emotions that may be drowning them and we judge their behaviors before attempting to understand why.

What this young woman needed before this – what she needs now, and what every one of us needs at any given time is unconditional love and acceptance

It’s imperative that we observe our world carefully and pay close attention to the warning signs. Broken people break others. If we see our loved ones engaging in harmful behaviors, it’s not our job to judge them – it’s our job to love them unconditionally. It’s our job to be aware and understand why they are broken so that instead of turning to toxic vices that bring nothing but harm, they turn to us.

Let them turn to you.

Adriana Gallardo