To the strong female from the Stanford rape case who is more brave than I ever could be
You inspire me.
Today I woke up irritable and exhausted. I had a long night before watching the USA men’s soccer team get beat by Colombia. On top of that I had a ton of prep to do for an upcoming camping trip and was looking forward to the cup of Starbucks coffee I would get at the grocery store.
After eating lunch and dreading the clock moving closer to 6 o’clock when I had to go into work I opened Twitter to read some disturbing, and familiar, news. Your rapist, the one who was an All-American swimmer at Stanford, was given a 6 month jail sentence for what he did to you. The headlines all read that the judge argued it would have been a longer sentence, but he didn’t want the punishment to have a “severe impact” on his life.
As I read more and more about the sentencing and the trial I found something even more thought provoking- your letter. The first thing I read was the photo Buzzfeed had chosen to sit at the top of the article:
As an outsider to this case I cannot imagine what it has been like for you. I read testimony after testimony of victims of rape speaking out about their experiences and the pain, both emotional and physical, that comes with what you have gone through. It saddened me that I came across another testimony so soon after reading the “punishment” your rapist received.
I am still sad about your ordeal, but more than that I feel inspired and oddly comforted. I say oddly because the way you spoke, so bravely and honestly, felt as if you were talking directly to me telling me the progression of thoughts and feelings after your rape. Even though I am one of many reaching out to you after the fact it feels like you know me in some ways.
I am the girl who knows not to wear a ponytail when I am out walking by myself at night, to get to my car after work, because it is easier for an attacker to grab me. I also know that holding my car key between my first two fingers can be used as a weapon. I am the girl whose mother told her to always check underneath and in the backseat of my car before I got inside.
I know these things because I live in a society that rewards rapists and criticizes their victims for speaking out. We are told that what we wear, how much we drink, and other aspects of our identity mean we are “asking for it” as if as females we should anticipate being raped.
What I want to say specifically to you is thank you. You were brave enough to sit in front of the person who stole so much from you for so long and openly express what it felt like. Your words were raw and cut deep into every part of my soul. So thank you for being brave, for being honest, for being a voice for so many who do not know how to put into words what they’ve gone through.
And then, at the bottom of the article, after I learned about the graphic details of my own sexual assault, the article listed his swimming times. She was found breathing, unresponsive with her underwear six inches away from her bare stomach curled in fetal position. By the way, he’s really good at swimming. Throw in my mile time if that’s what we’re doing. I’m good at cooking, put that in there, I think the end is where you list your extracurriculars to cancel out all the sickening things that’ve happened.
I have never been raped, sexually assaulted, or catcalled, but I have many friends who have experienced all of these. I have friends who are fighting alongside of you for the justice rapists so rightly deserve. At my own university there are students fighting for their rapists to just own up to their actions.
It’s disgusting and so disheartening as a female to read stories like this everyday, but what makes your story different is you so eloquently have not let it define you. While the pain you experienced is so real and raw you have chosen to be blunt, real, honest, insistent, and above all right.
According to him, the only reason we were on the ground was because I fell down. Note; if a girl falls down help her get back up. If she is too drunk to even walk and falls down, do not mount her, hump her, take off her underwear, and insert your hand inside her vagina.
So, dear strong female that is braver than I could ever be: thank you. My irritability over waking up tired and annoyed over a simple soccer loss is tiny compared to the hurdles you have overcome today and everyday since your rape. I believe you and I am inspired by you. Please keep fighting and allow me to stand alongside of you in this fight.
It gives the message that a stranger can be inside you without proper consent and he will receive less than what has been defined as the minimum sentence.
The original letter in full appears on Buzzfeed HERE. I highly recommend reading it in full and sharing it with everyone you know.