“You don’t know me, but you’ve been inside me, and that’s why we’re here today.”
These words were spoken by Chanel Miller as she stared across a courtroom at Brock Turner in March 2016. Rapists can be movie stars, teachers, athletes and even the people we love. The sentencing of Brock Turner in June 2016 brought into sharp focus how race, privilege and power, influence the scales of justice.
It also shines a light on how those accused of sexual assault can continue to sustain and gain power even in the highest offices of our land. Victims are not to be believed.
We continue to deny the pervasiveness of sexual assault. Some consider it inevitable. And some accept it as normal. This is perhaps the only reasonable explanation for the shameful lack of funding for rape crisis centers in California.
The state contributes just $45,000 from its general fund to resource rape crisis centers. That’s right $45,000. Or about one tenth of a cent for each resident in California. The state has funded at this level for decades. In Jerry Brown’s final year as governor, this amount was finally increased by $5 million—but has since been cut back to $45,000 under Gov. Gavin Newsom.
This lack of funding is reprehensible.
For the last two years, sexual assault and domestic violence service programs across the state have been advocating for $50 million in increased funding from the state of California to support the difficult work we do to support crisis intervention and prevention of violence.
In Santa Clara County, local politicians listened, took action, and are to be commended. Yet this highlights the significant equity issues for survivors in our state. Where you live, and the privilege you have, is determining access to services.
Governor Newsom, her name is Chanel Miller. Know her name. Hear her story. Do not deny the pervasiveness of sexual assault. Do not accept your government’s lack of action as normal. Do the right thing and fund rape crisis centers.
Counties shouldn’t be picking up the slack where the state has failed to invest, and the federal government under President Donald Trump should not be outpacing California’s commitment to ending rape.
Tanis Crosby, YWCA CEO
Sarita Kohli, AACI President & CEO
Erin O’Brien, Community Solutions President & CEO