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Stanford Sexual Assault Survivor Named a Woman of the Year by Glamour

“Emily Doe” takes her place alongside Simone Biles, Christine Lagarde, and the founders of Black Lives Matter.


Among the celebrities, leaders, achievers, and activists Glamour magazine named to its annual Woman of the Year list is one anonymous name: Emily Doe, an alias for the woman former Stanford swimmer Brock Turner assaulted outside a fraternity party in January 2015. Doe’s powerful statement in court, which made the aftermath of sexual assault horribly, movingly real for millions when BuzzFeed printed it, was read on-air on CNN and on the floor of Congress. Doe’s words spurred outrage over Turner’s famously short sentence and gave strength to a campaign to recall Santa Clara County judge Aaron Persky.

In a short essay for Glamour, Doe picks up where her famous letter left off. She describes the shock of learning that Turner was sentenced to six months in county jail for a crime that normally carries at least two years in state prison: “I yelled half of my statement. So when it was quickly announced that he’d be receiving six months, I was struck silent. Immediately I felt embarrassed for trying, for being led to believe I had any influence.”

The day after the sentencing, BuzzFeed published her statement. At 20,000 views, with some sympathetic comments below, she figured it was over. Then the letters and emails came pouring in. People wrote from Ireland, Botswana, India. And sent gifts: watercolors of lighthouses, bicycle earrings, recalls Doe: “A woman who plucked a picture of her young daughter from the inside of her cubicle wrote, This is who you’re saving.”

And then the vice president wrote to her:

When I received an e-mail that Joe Biden had written me a letter I was sitting in my pajamas eating some cantaloupe. You are a warrior. I looked around my room, who is he talking to. You have a steel spine, I touched my spine. I printed his letter out and ran around the house flapping it in the air.

There were mean comments, too, comments that treated Doe some kind of cautionary tale, as though her life amounted to little more than being the victim of a crime.

Instead of being a role model to be looked up to, I was a sad example to learn from, a story that caused you to shield your daughter’s eyes and shake your heads with pity. But when my letter was published, no one turned away. 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.

We don't know her name, but she's made the injustice of sexual assault impossible to ignore.

Read the rest of Doe’s words here.

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