Sexual assault, undoubtedly, is a large problem that the world faces.
One in five women and one in 71 men will experience sexual assault at some point in their lives, according to the National Sexual Violence Resource Center. Most of these assaults are perpetrated by people that the survivor knows; many of these instances are in a relationship setting.
Recently, popular YouTube star Toby Turner, who runs a gaming channel called “Tobuscus,” has been accused by a past girlfriend, known as AprilEfff on social media, of drugging and assaulting her while they were in a relationship. She posted this on the blogging platform site Tumblr.
She also mentioned that he was overall abusive and had a substance-abuse problem that few outside of the YouTube community knew.
Turner has come out to say that the allegations are completely false, and that he would never perform sexual acts on someone without informed consent. He did not comment on the substance abuse or the overall abuse allegations.
Since the Tumblr post was published, the YouTube community, namely the gaming community on YouTube, has been nearly polarized. Past girlfriends have come forth to speak on the allegations, such as Jaclyn Glenn and Melanie Murphy; it’s agreed upon that he was not the ideal partner, and that he had quite a few problems to work out, including his need to feel wanted and his inability to remain monogamous.
Murphy and Glenn have both stated, however, that he was not the type of person that would sexually assault someone, and that they had not experienced the assault themselves. Glenn mentions a “grey area,” where everything is blurred and might not make sense. They both admitted that he does have a problem with remaining monogamous and also has a problem with substance abuse.
It’s easy to point fingers and say that he’s a monster, because, well, it’s pretty irrefutable that he is. Besides the sexual assault allegations, it has practically been said unanimously that he was emotionally controlling and abusive, that he constantly lied and cheated on his girlfriends, that he would yell and make the women feel unsafe.
No one besides April can speak on the behalf of him being sexually manipulative, but everyone can speak on the fact that he is a completely different person outside of YouTube.
Turner is broken and needs help; not because he is the victim in this situation, but because he has made many women into victims due to his behavior. These women have been publicly ridiculed, humiliated, insulted and questioned because Turner made his fanbase sympathize with him.
And it’s very disheartening, as a person who adores the gaming community of YouTube, to see someone use their fame to silence the voices of women hurting. To see someone getting away with causing many people emotional and physical pain. To see a person who fearlessly shared her story be called a liar and a whore for speaking up.
It’s conflicting; Turner is the type of person you grow up watching, that you grow to adore because of his self-deprecating humor, his hilarious videos and skits, his interactions with other YouTubers to make a brilliant product… But all of that doesn’t matter. People make mistakes, but sexual assault is not something to brush off.
It’s not even a mistake—it’s much more serious than that. It’s a complete lapse of judgment. It’s a monstrous act. It’s one of the worst things that one human can do to another human.
I hope that Turner is innocent, not because he deserves to be pardoned from his abusive behavior, but because sexual assault is not something anyone should have to endure. I hope he’s innocent so that April can heal, so that she can begin to process his abusive ways and heal. I hope he’s innocent because I don’t want to see him as the monster that I do now.
I hope he’s innocent because in two years, I don’t want to see more women coming forth saying that he has hurt another person.
While I hope he’s innocent, I stand with April. Not because I want to see him go down, but because we must stand with the survivors of sexual assault. We must not point fingers and call them a liar.
We must help those who are hurting, and provide a safe space where they can talk, grow and heal.