These Powerful Quotes From The Stanford Survivor's 'Glamour' Essay Are A Painful Reminder That The Fight Against Sexual Assault Is Far From Over
In the months since Emily Doe's statement in response to the sentencing of the man who assaulted her, Brock Turner, was published in full, the discussion of sexual assault and consent has taken center stage in America. Though the Stanford survivor has chosen to remain anonymous, her experiences have unfortunately proven to be universal. These quotes from the Stanford survivor's Glamour essay, published on Nov. 1 alongside the announcement of her inclusion in Glamour's 2016 Women of the Year list, are a powerful reminder of just how important it is to continue this dialogue. In the exclusive essay, Doe tells us exactly what happened to her personally after Judge Aaron Persky handed down his controversially "gentle" verdict, as well as what it felt like for her statement to be read by millions of men and women around the globe.
In March of 2016, Brock Turner was found guilty of three felony counts of sexual assault against Emily Doe. He was sentenced in June to a mere six months in jail — an extraordinarily light sentence. As a response, his victim released the text of the harrowing statement that she read to him in court. In just four days, it was viewed over 11 million times on BuzzFeed, with comments pouring into the piece. Rape hotlines experienced an uptick in offers to volunteer, as well as calls for help. The attention that her statement brought allowed the state of California to finally close the loophole that allowed Turner to receive such a short sentence, protecting equally under the law those who are unconscious or intoxicated.
For all the essential discussion of rape culture and consent inspired by the sentencing, though, there is still so much work to be done — and Emily Doe's essay for Glamour is at once a painful reminder of this, as well as a celebration of her strength and perseverance.
On Sexual Assault Victims Being Failed By The Criminal Justice System
It is notoriously difficult to get a conviction in a sexual assault case. Even with witnesses and sufficient evidence, many rapists go unpunished; according to the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network (RAINN), out of every 1,000 rapes, 994 perpetrators will walk free. The invasive, difficult, and expensive court proceedings deter many victims from ever coming forward. Even when found guilty, sentencing can seem overwhelmingly light (or racially biased) considering the nature of the crime.
"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? I’m barely getting through this but I am being told I’m the lucky one, some sort of VIP. "
On Her Disbelief Over The Verdict
Emily Doe writes that when it was announced that Turner would only be sentenced to six months (of which he would end up serving only three), she was speechless. The judge declared, in regards to Turner, that any harsher sentence would have “a severe impact on him.” The sentence left Doe feeling powerless and confused.
"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."
On The Case Setting A Possible Precedent
Doe feared that despite her strong evidence, the case could set a problematic precedent and have far-reaching implications in the handling of future rape cases. She continues to fight to get the judge off the bench.
"If this case was meant to set the bar, the bar had been set on the floor."
On The Response To Her Victim Impact Statement
Doe was extremely nervous to lay herself bare yet again by publishing her victim impact statement. She never expected the amount of attention that it would bring, or that it would help future generations of women speak up.
"I started getting e-mails forwarded to me from Botswana to Ireland to India. I received watercolor paintings of lighthouses and bicycle earrings. A woman who plucked a picture of her young daughter from the inside of her cubicle wrote, This is who you’re saving."
On How To Move Forward In The Fight Against Sexual Assault
Doe reminds us in this quote that is not women who need to change their behavior, or walk around their college campuses armed with pepper spray. The system needs to hold those guilty of sexual assault accountable for what they have done, and we need to come together to fight for a better justice system.
"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. "
On The Comment That Stung The Most
One hurtful comment from 2015 stuck with Doe: "Sad. I hope my daughter never ends up like her." In the essay, Doe remarks that she is not defined by what was done to her, nor does the court verdict mark the completion of her story. The letter made people pay attention, instead of pitying her.
"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."
On The Problem With The Word "Victim"
Doe states that how we think about those hurt by sexual assault needs to change as well. Whether its victim shaming, blaming, or reducing them to one horrible experience, this kind of thinking can have painful affects on those already suffering.
"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."