In January 2015, Emily Doe was found behind a dumpster at Stanford University. She was unconscious. Brock Turner, her rapist, tried to run away but was held by two male witnesses, so disturbed by what they saw that one them couldn’t speak for crying so hard.
Brock Turner was sentenced to only 6 months in jail, released after 3, because the judge in the case wanted to protect his future. Just before his sentencing though, Emily Doe addressed the court. Her victim impact statement was widely circulated – and so now, even though we don’t know who she is, we know her. We know her pain, we know her anger, we know her grace, we know her strength.
Emily Doe was named a Woman Of The Year by Glamour Magazine. Last night, at an event to honour the recipients, parts of her victim impact statement were read aloud on stage by Gabourey Sidibe, Freida Pinto, and Amber Heard. The video is below with an introduction by Lena Dunham. Michelle Dauber, a law professor at Stanford, was there to accept the Woman Of The Year award on Emily Doe’s behalf. Since Brock Turner’s sentencing, Michelle has been working to have the judge recalled and Emily wrote an acceptance speech that Michelle delivered to the audience. You can read her remarks here.
And Emily has more to say. In Glamour this month, she’s written another essay about what happened after, after the trial, after the sentencing, after her impact statement went viral, after it was read in Congress, on the news, after it was read by you, by me, by all of us. After she was heard. But she was heard because she demanded to be heard. And she now shares with us how it felt to use her voice, how it helped her heal:
In the very beginning of it all in 2015, one comment managed to lodge harmfully inside me: Sad. I hope my daughter never ends up like her.
I absorbed that statement. Ends up. As if we end somewhere, as if what was done to me marked the completion of my story. 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.
When she stood up in court that day and “yelled half of my statement”, Emily Doe sent a message to others like her – that she is with them, that she is one of them, that they are not alone. It used to be that women who chose to remain anonymous were called Jane Doe, the female counterpart to John Doe. I’ll try to play Duana here and say that Jane, now, is not as common as Emily. Emily, then, has been chosen for her familiarity. We all know an Emily. Emily is in our circle. Emily is family. Emily is us. Also the meaning of Emily: she is a “rival”, which means she’s a challenger, and she is industrious, she is “hard working”. Emily is coming through the dark by getting to work.
Please click here to read Emily Doe’s recent essay in Glamour.
Yours in gossip,