This Sexual Assault Victim’s Letter to Her Attacker Is All Anyone Can Talk About

posted: 06/06/16
by: Mara Betsch

We'd understand if this 23-year-old woman, who was sexually assaulted by a Stanford swimmer and then went through more than a year of legal battles to bring him to justice, was tired of fighting. We'd understand if she wanted to move to a deserted island in order to get away from lawyers, juries, and the press that's been a part of her life since January 2015. But instead, after a California jury found former student Brock Allen Turner, 20, guilty of three counts of sexual assault and then sentenced him to six months in jail, she decided it was time to speak out. That sort of crime carries a maximum sentence of 14 years in state prison, but the judge argued that that sort of time would "have a severe impact on [Turner]," and he'll already have to register as a sex offender. But with Turner showing no remorse, and Turner's own father posting a controversial defense, including lines like "his life will never be the one that he dreamed about and worked so hard to achieve. That is a steep price to pay for 20 minutes of action," his victim felt she needed to address him directly to explain exactly how that night affected her.

In a heartbreaking essay, printed in full on Buzzfeed, she not only details what he did to her on that fateful night, but how she's dealt with the aftermath and emotional pain. She writes:

You said, I want to show people that one night of drinking can ruin a life. A life, one life, yours, you forgot about mine. Let me rephrase for you, I want to show people that one night of drinking can ruin two lives. You and me. You are the cause, I am the effect. You have dragged me through this hell with you, dipped me back into that night again and again. You knocked down both our towers, I collapsed at the same time you did. If you think I was spared, came out unscathed, that today I ride off into sunset, while you suffer the greatest blow, you are mistaken. Nobody wins. We have all been devastated, we have all been trying to find some meaning in all of this suffering. Your damage was concrete; stripped of titles, degrees, enrollment. My damage was internal, unseen, I carry it with me. You took away my worth, my privacy, my energy, my time, my safety, my intimacy, my confidence, my own voice, until today.

Her words are tough to read, but through her courage in speaking out and calling for justice, we only hope that other victims of sexual assault are more likely to come forward with their stories in the future. Please take the time to read her moving letter.