The Stanford Rape Victim's 'Glamour' Essay Proves How Much Work Still Needs To Be Done When It Comes To Believing Women
Today, Glamour published an update written by the still-unnamed woman who recounted her 2015 sexual assault in a powerful impact statement that went massively viral in June. The Stanford rape survivor’s Glamour essay movingly describes her feelings about the shockingly short sentence handed down to Brock Turner, the Stanford freshman convicted of sexually assaulting her at a party in January of 2015. In her essay, she also discusses what happened after her impact statement caught fire online, inciting outrage among millions of readers and calls for our culture to change the way it approaches sexual assault.
In an introduction to the essay, Glamour announced that it has named the Stanford rape survivor, who has been given the pseudonym “Emily Doe,” as a “Woman of the Year” for her bravery in coming forward about her sexual assault. Few who have read the impact statement that Doe read in court will ever forget it; in the statement, she steadfastly refuses to accept Turner’s defense that his actions — for which he was convicted of three counts of felony sexual assault — were simply the result of a “campus drinking culture.” “This is not a story of another drunk college hookup with poor decision making,” Doe wrote. “Assault is not an accident.”
In her Glamour essay, Doe illustrates just how difficult it is for victims of sexual assault to get justice. “From the beginning, I was told I was a best case scenario,” she wrote. “I had forensic evidence, sober unbiased witnesses, a slurred voice mail, 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?”
Doe wrote that after Turner was convicted, she was “relieved” and looked forward to speaking at the sentencing. “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,” she recalled.
The decision from sentencing Judge Aaron Persky was a shock. “[W]hen it was quickly announced that he’d be receiving six months, I was struck silent,” Doe recounted. “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.” (Brock Turner was released on September 2, after serving three months in county jail.)
Doe’s message in the essay is clear: The way we treat survivors of sexual assault has to change. They deserve to be believed, they deserve to have their attackers held responsible for their actions, and they deserve to have a justice system that doesn’t value the lives and futures of those who commit sexual assault over those who are assaulted.
“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,” Doe warns in her essay, continuing,
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.
Read Emily Doe’s full essay here. Like her impact statement published in June, it’s required reading.