‘Victims are survivors, and survivors are going to be doing a hell of a lot more than surviving’
The infuriating and shocking story of Brock Turner captivated the nation this year. First, came the horror of the former Stanford student’s brutal sexual assault of a woman on campus and the two strangers who intervened to stop him.
Then, during his trial, millions were captivated by a letter from his victim who wrote to her attacker in detail about how the assault had affected her. Her words were so powerful that Vice President Joe Biden was deeply emotionally moved and wrote his own letter back to the “Emily Doe.”
But that moment was quickly overshadowed by what most considered a miscarriage of justice when Turner was sentenced to just six months for his crime, a cruel joke when compared to other cases, particularly involving minorities, that involved much harsher sentences. In fact, the state of California issued new guidelines for sexual assault convictions directly as a result of the case.
Lost in all of the outrage was the status of that still anonymous Emily Doe. In the new issue of Glamour, she is speaking out publicly for the first time about the case, Turner and how the story that captured the attention of a nation impacted her.
"Immediately I felt embarrassed for trying, for being led to believe I had any influence. The violation of my body and my being added up to a few months out of his summer,” she wrote. “The judge would release him back to his life, back to the 40 people who had written him letters from Ohio. I began to panic; I thought, this can’t be the best case scenario. If this case was meant to set the bar, the bar had been set on the floor."
However, she also detailed the outflow of supportive letters that came her way, along with the public displays of support from strangers she encountered while out in the world – all of which occurred with no one knowing her actual identity. And in her letter, she takes a stand, reminding us all who she really is and what needs to change in our culture that still permits stories like Brock Turner’s to go unchallenged:
"If you think the answer is that women need to be more sober, more civil, more upright, that girls must be better at exercising fear, must wear more layers with eyes open wider, we will go nowhere...
"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."