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Stanford sexual assault survivor named one of Glamour's Women of the Year

Known to the public by the pseudonym Emily Doe, she’s being honored not only as a survivor of sexual assault, but as a hero who stood up against injustice. 

Even though you don’t know her name, you probably know her story. In January 2015, Doe was raped behind a dumpster after attending a party at Stanford University and left unconscious until two men on bicycles rode by and saw her lying there. A Stanford swimmer, Brock Turner, was convicted of the assault, but the case sparked outrage when he received only a six-month sentence

She penned a harrowing letter, read in court, that detailed the experience in a way that made the impact clear for millions of readers.

“I am not just a drunk victim at a frat party… while you are the All American swimmer at a top university… I am a human being who has been irreversibly hurt,” she wrote in the letter. “You took away my worth, my privacy, my energy, my time, my safety, my intimacy, my confidence, my own voice, until today.”

Not only did her powerful words rivet the nation’s attention to this particular case, they opened many people’s eyes to reality of what survivors go through. She helped inspired new legislation to strengthen laws against sexual assault, as well as a campaign to remove the judge in the case.

Glamour magazine took notice, and the editors detailed the reasoning for choosing her as one of their 2016 Women of the Year.

“We all know the statistics: One out of every six females will have someone rape her—or attempt to,” wrote editor-in-chief Cindi Leive. “Doe sent those women a message: I am with you. Glamour is honored to name Emily Doe a Woman of the Year.” 

Protests over the case at Stanford University’s graduation, June 12, 2016. Ramin Talaie/Getty Images

Then Leive let Doe say the rest. 

In an essay published by the magazine, she talks about hearing her letter to Brock Turner read aloud on the news: 

“I sat stunned watching her speak my words, imagining them being spoken on every television set in the nation. Watching women and men at Gracie Mansion, on the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives, girls in their rooms, gathered together to read each segment, holding my words in their voices. My body seemed too small to hold what I felt.”

While Doe received messages of support from across the United States and around the world, not every reaction was as positive. She recalls a negative moment that stayed with her: 

“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.”

Now, she writes, “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.”

Doe encourages young women not to be fearful and worry about what people think, and she’s certainly decided to accept this Woman of the Year award with pride. 

“When Judge Aaron Persky 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 writes.

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