“From the beginning, I was told I was a best case scenario.”
That’s how the Stanford sexual assault survivor begins her riveting essay published Tuesday morning in Glamour.
The young woman (who chose to stay anonymous throughout the case and was referred to as “Emily Doe”) was brutally sexually assaulted by Turner after a party at Stanford while she was unconscious behind a dumpster in January 2015. Turner was sentenced to six months in county jail and served only three, after being convicted of three felony sexual assault charges in March 2016.
“I’m barely getting through this but I am being told I’m the lucky one, some sort of VIP,” the young survivor wrote in Glamour. “It was like being checked into a hotel room for a year with stained sheets, rancid water, and a bucket with an attendant saying, No this is great! Most rooms don’t even have a bucket.”
In March, Doe bravely read a victim impact statement aloud in court to her attacker. A few months later, BuzzFeed published her statement and it immediately captured the attention of the entire country. Celebrities, politicians and reporters read the young woman’s riveting letter aloud. Hillary Clinton and Joe Biden praised the survivor for her determination and courage in the midst of such a horrific experience.
In a foreword for the essay, Glamour editor-in-chief Cindi Leive announced that the young woman was named Glamour’s Woman of the Year for her bravery.
Doe’s words in her impact victim statement were a gut-wrenching commentary on sexual assault and rape culture ― and her new essay in Glamour shares the same powerful weight.
She described the anxiety she experienced when BuzzFeed contacted her to publish her letter; later, the vulnerability of having millions read her words; and then, the surprise and relief that people cared so deeply about her story.
“When my letter was published, no one turned away. No one said I’d rather not look, it’s too much, or too sad,” she wrote. “Everyone pushed through the hard parts, saw me fully to the end, and embraced every feeling.”
Doe explained exactly what needs to happen for survivors to get justice and for our country to better understand the insidious nature of rape culture:
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. When Judge Aaron Persky mutes the word justice, when Brock Turner serves one month for every felony, we go nowhere. When we all make it a priority to avoid harming or violating another human being, and when we hold accountable those who do, when the campaign to recall this judge declares that survivors deserve better, then we are going somewhere.
She finished her essay on an important note, reminding readers and the world that victims are strong survivors who don’t need pity.
“Victims are not victims, not some fragile, sorrowful aftermath,” She wrote. “Victims are survivors, and survivors are going to be doing a hell of a lot more than surviving.”
Head over to Glamour to read the rest of Doe’s powerful essay.
Listen to the cast of “Girls” read Emily Doe’s new letter aloud.
Head here to learn more about how you can help the campaign to recall Judge Aaron Persky.
Need help? Visit RAINN’s National Sexual Assault Online Hotline or the National Sexual Violence Resource Center’s website.