The anonymous survivor, who is referred to as Emily Doe, was honored by the women's magazine months after she bravely read a letter to her attacker in court. Her moving statement went viral and drew national attention to survivors of sexual assault.
Speaking for the first time since Turner, 21, was released from jail in September after serving only three months of his six-month sentence, Doe penned a powerful essay published by Glamour, detailing the roller coaster of emotions she felt throughout the case and the aftermath.
"From the beginning, I was told I was a best case scenario," she wrote. "I had forensic evidence, sober unbiased witnesses, a slurred voice mail, police at the scene. 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."
Doe continued: "After the trial I was relieved thinking the hardest part was over, and all that was left was the sentencing. I was excited to finally be given a chance to read my statement and declare, 'I am here. I am not that floppy thing you found behind the garbage, speaking melted words. I am here, I can stand upright, I can speak clearly, I've been listening and am painfully aware of all the hurt you've been trying to justify.'"
The survivor explained that she was "struck silent" and "felt embarrassed for trying" after it was announced in court that Turner would serve just six months in jail after being found guilty on all three felony charges for the attack. After BuzzFeed published Doe's letter — with her permission — she felt "exposed and vulnerable again."
As the statement quickly went viral, people from around the world started reaching out to Doe, including CNN anchor Ashleigh Banfield (who read the full 12-page letter aloud on air) and Vice President Joe Biden.
"When my letter was published, no one turned away," she wrote in her Glamour essay. "No one said I'd rather not look, it's too much or too sad. Everyone pushed through the hard parts, saw me fully to the end and embraced every feeling."
Doe says she also received some hate mail, including a message from one mother who wrote, "I hope my daughter never ends up like her."
"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," Doe wrote. "When Judge Aaron Persky [who sentenced Turner to six months] mutes the word justice, when Brock Turner serves one month for every felony, we go nowhere. When we all make it a priority to avoid harming or violating another human being, and when we hold accountable those who do, when the campaign to recall this judge declares that survivors deserve better, then we are going somewhere."
She concluded the essay: "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. And 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."
If you or anyone you know has been sexually assaulted, call the National Sexual Assault Hotline at 1-800-656-HOPE (4673). A trained staff member will provide confidential, judgment-free support as well as local resources to assist in healing and recovering, and more.
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