To Emily Doe, the survivor of Brock Turner*’s assault,
I don’t know you. I don’t know who you are. You don’t know me, you don’t know who I am. But I stand here today, behind you, supporting you and believing in you.
In January 2015, you were with your sister. I have a younger sister too, and I would do just about anything to spend time with her, I would do just about anything to love her and protect her, as I am sure you feel the same way.
That night, your rapist took so much away from you. He took your freedom from fear, he took your worth, he took your validation, he took your safety, your confidence, your voice in every kind of way, he took everything he never deserved to take.
We live in a world where people make decisions and never stop and think about how they affect others. Our society has created a culture where your rapist’s actions are excused: where he is called just a “boy being a boy,” focusing on his “accomplishments,” but never on how he made the decision to ruin your life, never on how the culture finds his actions to be “okay,” but yours are deemed “questionable.” As I read articles about your case, headlines depict your assaulter as “Stanford student,” “University swimmer,” “Olympic hopeful,” but never “Rapist,” “Sexual assaulter,” or “Perpetrator,” titles that are well deserved and should have been given to him the second he stole so much from you. Your case didn’t allow any statements towards him being a college student or a varsity swimmer as they “conjure sympathy” and “highlight punishment,” but that didn’t seem to stop the public, or the judge.
I’ve been writing this letter to you for awhile, about 4 months, actually. I’ve been doing my research – I’ve read victim and witness statements, I’ve read every single court document available to the public on your case. I’ve been scared of writing “the wrong thing,” I’ve been nervous that I will step out of boundaries previously set.
But that’s all out the window now.
Last month, your rapist was released from jail. He walks this earth free with nothing except a couple scolds to call a punishment. He ruined your life and gets to live his as if it was any day – far from ruin himself. He was let free because of “good behavior,” but I’m pretty sure even a seven year old could tell you that what he did was FAR from good behavior. He assaulted you, in public, and only stopped because two saints of humans came to save you. He continues to not accept responsibility for his actions, to lie, to contradict himself, and seeks to turn you into the victim, even though you did absolutely nothing wrong.
It’s been a long time since that day that changed your life. I can only imagine the fighter, the warrior, the survivor you’ve become. While media outlets seemed so quick to share your story, none of them will ever know the woman you truly are, none of them will ever seek to show more than what that rapist has done – not to you, but what he has done to “prove” his place in this world.
You see, you, my darling, you are more than anyone in the public light will ever know. I don’t know you, and while I wish I did, I do not doubt that you are a beautiful woman full of light that your rapist tried so hard to suppress. You, you survivor, you have turned the world upside down. You have written a victim statement that has shown so many people the truth behind these cultural lies, that has shown so many how much he broke you but how much stronger you are. You have called us all to start paying attention and begin to do something. You have ripped open the wound that is “rape culture,” allowing it to bleed free until we start to do something about it.
This is not your fault. You are a survivor worth so much more than he has convinced the world you are. You have chosen to stay anonymous – and even though you are anonymous to the world does not mean that you do not deserve to have a voice. Just because you are anonymous to me and to everyone who read your story on the Internet does not mean what you have accomplished in this world (and what you will continue to accomplish) is not of value. Just because he took advantage of you does NOT make you less of a person – in fact, you are more of a human than he will ever be.
I wish I could say so many things to you. I wish I could say this is the first and only time I’ve heard a story like this. But it’s not. This is too common – too many victims, too many assaulters blaming anyone and anything but themselves. I wish I could tell you that he would get what he deserves – the lifetime behind bars, the prison sentence he wrote himself the second he made that decision. But I can’t. Because I am not the judge, I am not the one who calls these shots – as much as I wish I was. I wish I thought he has learned something from all of this. But I don’t. Because his issues are deep, lying in lies that tell him it’s okay to hurt others for his own gain, lying in lies that tell him that the life he lives is worth more than anyone else’s, because that is far from the truth.
But what I can tell you is that I stand by you. That millions of beautiful souls in this world stand by you. That when your sister wrote her letter, telling us what a wonderful human you are, we believe her. That when you feel like you’re alone – you never are. That when you let yourself be vulnerable with the world and shared your story – you changed this place, you changed this world, you changed so many lives. You showed us that it is okay to tell your story. You showed us that you must fight for yourself. You showed us that while we see your rapist’s picture and we know his name, that means nothing because he is not worth anything. I know so many beautiful humans who have been victimized and who have walked a similar path as you, and you are showing this world that it is okay for them to step forward, it is okay for them to understand that they are worth much more. You’ve “given hope for there to be change” to so many girls everywhere, who you continue to stand by and who continue to stand by you.
I’m sorry if this letter is causing you to relive that night one more time. I’m sorry that I am not able to provide more to you than a few words of prayer and solitude. I’m sorry if I’ve caused more harm than good. But as each day goes by, you are who my mind returns to. You, a survivor, a warrior, a girl who is never alone in what she has suffered, you must be reminded of the power you have to continue to fight and to stand strong. You have inspired others throughout this country and across this world to step forward and to fight for justice and for freedom from these battles they didn’t choose to enter – as victims of sexual assaults see that, because of you, a victim is more than that: a victim is a warrior worthy of a fight well fought.
Reputation is different than character. Your rapist is operating under the belief that “reputation” is what is important – as those around him belittle you, fighting for a false image he wants others to have of him. His only regret surrounds the fact that the image that exists of him is not what he wishes, but he seems to have no regret of what he did to you. But character is so much more important than reputation, and you my dear survivor, your character exceeds all else. While your rapist is attempting to control his false reputation, you are continuing to show your true character – who YOU really are. You are so much more than him and you always will be.
I could write a letter to your rapist. I could tell him that he has no place to justify what he did – that it does not matter what you were wearing or where you were or who you were with or what your blood alcohol content was. I could tell him that when he made that decision, when he decided to try breaking you down, he chose to take all consequences that should have come his way but never did. I could tell him that his actions affect those around him, that you cannot hurt other people just to benefit yourself. I could write a letter to the judge of your case. I could tell him that instead of focusing on the mistakes that you did not make, he should have opened his eyes and see that your rapist ruined his own life when he sought to ruin yours. I could write a letter to Donald Trump, telling him that by dismissing his actions of sexual assault as “casual” and as “locker room banter” and convincing himself that he is entitled to women’s bodies, that he is perpetuating the rape culture that our world struggles with, and that he is setting us back and setting us far from an example. I could do all of these things, but the truth is: I don’t care. I don’t care about any of them because they are not worthy of caring. You are. You deserve to be loved, you deserve to be cared for, you deserve to be shown mercy, grace, and a chance to tell your story, which we are all so lucky you did.
You are a survivor and you are more than you ever can possibly see. You changed the way the world views sexual assault and our rape culture. You moved the State of California laws one step forward. You opened hearts of victims just like you to step forward and share their story. You should have never had to pay the price you did, but because of the true character of your heart: you took that awful price and you changed our world.
Thank you, dear survivor. Thank you.
just a girl who wanted to write you a letter.
*In the words of the beautiful survivor, “”Right now your name is tainted, so I challenge you to make a new name for yourself, to do something so good for the world, it blows everyone away.” Until he chooses to rewrite his name, I refuse to use it.