‘You took away my worth’: Stanford rape survivor pens powerful letter to attacker
After a California jury sentenced her rapist, former Stanford University swimmer Brock Turner, to a six months in jail last week — a 23-year-old woman hopes her words will serve as a wake-up call about sexual assault.
“I want the judge to know that he ignited a tiny fire,” she told BuzzFeed News. “If anything, this is a reason for all of us to speak even louder.”
In her emotional 13-page victim impact statement, she addresses Turner who was found guilty in March of three counts of sexual assault. Despite the conviction, he denies any wrongdoing.
Turner was caught on Jan. 17, 2015 by two graduate students who were biking across campus. When he tried to flee, they tackled him and held him down until police arrived.
His victim, the unidentified woman, was found unconscious and half-naked behind a dumpster.
“You don’t know me, but you’ve been inside me,” she starts off in her 13-page statement.
She recalls going to a fraternity party that night to spend time with her younger sister, who teased her for wearing a beige cardigan.
“I made silly faces, let my guard down, and drank liquor too fast not factoring in that my tolerance had significantly lowered since college,” she read in the courtroom during Turner’s sentencing.
The next thing she remembers, she writes in the letter, is lying on a gurney in a hospital hallway, covered in dried blood and bandages.
“A deputy explained I had been assaulted. I still remained calm, assured he was speaking to the wrong person.”
Soon enough, though, she realized her underwear was missing and was asked to sign “rape victim papers.”
“My clothes were confiscated and I stood naked while the nurses held a ruler to various abrasions on my body and photographed them. The three of us worked to comb the pine needles out of my hair, six hands to fill one paper bag.”
She goes on to write the gravity of the situation didn’t hit her until hours later, when she was allowed to shower.
“I don’t want my body anymore,” she recalled thinking as the water washed over her. “I was terrified of it, I didn’t know what had been in it…who had touched it.”
“I wanted to take off my body like a jacket and leave it at the hospital with everything else.”
She wrote that she was ashamed and afraid to tell her parents and boyfriend what had happened.
“I was not ready to tell my boyfriend or parents that actually, I may have been raped behind a dumpster, but I don’t know by who or when or how,” she wrote, adding that seeing the fear on their faces would only amplify hers.
She kept it secret for over a week, until she saw it on the news. That’s how she learned who her attacker was.
In the news article, he claimed there was consent and that she “liked it.”
“But I don’t remember, so how do I prove I didn’t like it?”
“I was told that because I couldn’t remember, I technically could not prove it was unwanted. And that distorted me, damaged me, almost broke me…I had to fight for an entire year to make it clear that there was something wrong with this situation.”
“Future reference,” she wrote, “if you are confused about whether a girl can consent, see if she can speak an entire sentence…
“If she is too drunk to even walk and falls down,” she continued, “do not mount her, hump her, take off her underwear…help her up.”
The woman recounts being pummeled with a torrent of seemingly “trivial” questions by Turner’s lawyer, who dissected her personal life “to try and find an excuse for this guy.”
“His attorney constantly reminded the jury, the only one we can believe is Brock, because she doesn’t remember. That helplessness is traumatizing.”
Turner has tried to blame alcohol, saying it prevented both of them from making the best decisions.
“Alcohol is not an excuse,” his victim countered. “This is not a story of another drunk college hookup with poor decision making. Assault is not an accident.”
She detailed how the trauma has affected her — robbing her of her independence, joy, and ability to sleep and work. She wrote of how empty she felt and how angry, self deprecating, tired, isolated and irritable she’d become.
“You took away my worth, my privacy, my energy, my time, my safety, my intimacy, my confidence, my own voice.”
Through her story, her wish is that other sex assault survivors will feel less alone.
“To girls everywhere, I am with you,” she wrote in her final paragraph. “When people doubt or dismiss you, I am with you. I fought everyday for you.
“So never stop fighting. I believe you.”
© 2016 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.