About a year-and-a-half ago, the internet was captivated by a powerful statement written by "Jane Doe," an anonymous 23-year-old woman who was sexually assaulted by very bad person Brock Turner back in 2015.
The statement, which she read during her trial as a letter to Turner, described in vivid detail both the assault and the impact it had on her life. Five months later, in an essay published in Glamour, Doe explains what her life was like in the time after the letter went viral.
During that time, 20-year-old Turner, whose face is now in the Dictionary next to the the word rape, was handed a "gentle" 6-month sentence in county jail. The judge determined that a longer sentence could have a "severe impact" on the former star swimmer, whose athletic accomplishments were played up throughout the trial. Ultimately, he only ended up serving half the sentence. Basically, he had one shitty summer.
In the essay for Glamour, Turner's victim writes about how this made her feel:
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. 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.
But she also shed light on something positive to come out of the traumatizing ordeal, which was receiving emails from woman all over the world. She writes:
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.
The essay also addresses society's very-much-still-relevant problem of victim blaming, instead of what we should be doing: focusing the discussion of sexual assault and consent on the behavior of the perpetrator.
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.
We need to hear these words now as much as ever.