Stanford sex assault survivor named a Woman of the Year
A 23-year-old rape victim's emotional letter to her attacker, former Stanford swimmer Brock Allen Turner, has gone viral. A letter from Turner's father is also garnering attention on social media.
A woman whose evocative and compelling message gave voice to sex assault victims everywhere was named one of Glamour magazine's 2016 Women of the Year on Tuesday.
"Emily Doe," the anonymous survivor of a savage assault by Stanford University swimmer Brock Turner in 2015, was recognized five months after she read a victim's impact statement in court. Doe's stirring words echoed across the globe in stark contrast to the pleas of the defendant's father in seeking a lighter sentence for his son.
“You don’t know me, but you’ve been inside me, and that’s why we’re here today,” Doe, 23, said as she addressed Turner in court earlier this year. “You took away my worth, my privacy, my energy, my time, my intimacy, my confidence, my own voice, until today.”
Doe's statement described in blunt and graphic terms the aftermath of her ordeal: how she stood naked in the hospital while nurses held a ruler to abrasions on her body, how she found out the details of her attack by reading a news story one day at work — an article that also listed Turner's swimming times. And it responded piece by piece to Turner's defendant statement.
Turner, who was arrested after two graduate students on bicycles rode by as the attack was taking place near a dumpster, was found guilty in March of three counts of felony sexual assault. The judge in the case, Aaron Persky, sparked outrage across the country when he sentenced Turner to six months in county jail. He now faces a recall petition.
The furor exploded on social media when a letter from the defendant's father, Dan Turner, became public in which he said jail time was “a steep price to pay for 20 minutes of action out of his 20 plus years of life.”
Turner was released from jail in September after serving three months. He must register as a sex offender for life.
Doe's powerful words became a rallying cry for assault victims and put the judicial system's treatment of survivors in the spotlight.
Now, in a gripping essay published in Glamour's December issue, Doe speaks out again.
"From the beginning, I was told I was a best case scenario.
"I had forensic evidence, sober unbiased witnesses, a slurred voicemail, police at the scene. I had everything, and I was still told it was not a slam dunk. I thought, if this is what having it good looks like, what other hells are survivors living?"
She goes on to say how after the trial she thought the worst was over. "I was excited to finally be given a chance to read my statement and declare, I am here. I am not that floppy thing you found behind the garbage, speaking melted words."
But that soon changed when she heard the sentence of six months. "I was struck silent," she says.
Doe writes about the groundswell of support she felt when her statement went viral and how stunned she was to grasp the implications for other young girls.
She concludes by addressing those girls:
"So now to the one who said, I hope my daughter never ends up like her, I am learning to say, I hope you end up like me, meaning, I hope you end up like me strong. I hope you end up like me proud of who I’m becoming. I hope you don’t “end up,” I hope you keep going. And I hope you grow up knowing that the world will no longer stand for this.
"Victims are not victims, not some fragile, sorrowful aftermath. Victims are survivors, and survivors are going to be doing a hell of a lot more than surviving."
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