If you have Internet access, you've undoubtedly come across the powerful letter that a woman wrote to her rapist, former Stanford swimmer Brock Turner, in the wake of his sentencing to only six months in jail for sexually assaulting her while she lay unconscious behind a dumpster. "He is a lifetime sex registrant. That doesn’t expire. Just like what he did to me doesn’t expire, doesn’t just go away after a set number of years," she wrote. "It stays with me, it’s part of my identity, it has forever changed the way I carry myself, the way I live the rest of my life."
Her letter, which she read to Turner directly in court, has been re-read, shared, and digested thousands and thousands of times, as people try to make sense of the violence, privilege, and injustice surrounding her case. After a jury of twelve unanimously found Turner guilty of three felony counts (which carries a maximum sentence of fourteen years) Judge Aaron Perksy argued that six months was more appropriate as a prison sentence would have a "severe impact" on him.
After recovering from the rage we felt in learning about the devastating details of this case, we had to wonder: who was the brave and eloquent woman who suddenly became the voice for so many women and survivors?
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"When people doubt you or dismiss you, I am with you. I fought everyday for you. So never stop fighting, I believe you," she wrote in the final piece of her letter— a portion addressed to fellow women and survivors.
"I hope that by speaking today, you absorbed a small amount of light, a small knowing that you can’t be silenced, a small satisfaction that justice was served, a small assurance that we are getting somewhere, and a big, big knowing that you are important, unquestionably, you are untouchable, you are beautiful, you are to be valued, respected, undeniably, every minute of every day, you are powerful and nobody can take that away from you."
For now, she wants to remain anonymous
Yes, she wants to protect her identity, although Brock turner robbed her of any sense of safety. Moreover, she feels that the her message is most impactful coming from an anonymous survivor. "It is also a statement, that all of these people are fighting for someone they don’t know," she said in a statement released to KTVU Fox 2. "That’s the beauty of it. I don’t need labels, categories, to prove I am worthy of respect, to prove that I should be listened to."
Indeed, there is something to be said for people recognizing her humanity even if they can't categorize her as "someone's sister, someone's daughter, someone's best friend." She is, simply, someone— and that should be enough for us to care.
We may learn her identity, but she'd prefer us to focus on her experience and the experience of other survivors.
"I am coming out to you as simply a woman wanting to be heard," she said. "Yes there is plenty more I’d like to tell you about me." But, for now, she says, "I am every woman."