Domestic Violence Survivors Show Solidarity with Stanford Rape Case Victim in Clinton Square Event

Jun 17, 2016

Survivors of violence and abuse gave voice to the letter from the Stanford rape case victim in Clinton Square Thursday evening
Credit Chris Bolt/WAER News

  A group of women organized by Vera House wanted the message held inside the Stanford rape case victim's recent testimony to get a public presentation.  And with it the women, victims of abuse themselves, gave voice to the strong sentiments about what constitutes rape, how victims are dealt with in the court system, the continued ignoring of consent, and the devastation to the lives of victims.  

The powerful and poignant statement submitted to the court by the victim and addressed to the assailant, Brock Turner, was read out loud in segments by the local women.  

Clinton Square reading of Stanford Rape case victim's letter
Credit Chris Bolt/WAER News

  EDITOR'S NOTE: The reading of the letter was a very powerful and moving event.  While in total it's over 40 minutes, it encapsulates many key issues in sexual assault.  The victim's words, movingly voiced by local survivors of abuse, speak to consent issues, court problems in assault cases, privilege, and victim trauma.  Please take time to experience.

  Each of the audio segments below includes the victim's descriptions and responses to aspects of the incident, the court proceedings, the sentencing and Turner's failure to ever apologize or take responsibility.  

The first segment includes a recounting of how the night of the attack developed, from innocent party stop to assault behind a dumpster.

The second segment of the reading tells of the morning after when the victim was just finding out what had actually happened to her the night before...and what the horror of what would follow as she tried to deal with the assault emotionally and legally.


Crowd stayed silent throughout the powerful presentation
Credit Chris Bolt/WAER News

  Dozens of people gathered in Clinton Square to listen, the gripping tale and the emotional reading of the letter evoking silence from the crowd.  

The third segment of the message speaks to - and about - Brock Turner, the impersonality of it all, the privileged position as a Stanford Swim Team member that might have played a role in the assault.

The legal portion of the ordeal showed how the justice system, when a case goes to trial rather than a settlement, forces re-living the attack.

This fourth segment of the reading includes the myriad questions about character and personal life details that made up cross examinations by the defense attorney for Turner.


Each speaker read a portion of the victim's letter, and in many cases the emotions in their voices could be heard to touch their own experiences, memories or pain.
Credit Chris Bolt/WAER News

  The letter was actually read directly to Turner at his sentencing hearing.  The victim, who has chosen to stay anonymous, asked the judge to direct many of the comments directly at Turner.  

In this fifth segment, she responds to aspects of the case he and his defense presented.  Included therein are striking details of what transpired, as well as strong comment about what consent should look like, as well as right-and-wrong ways to behave or react around an unconscious woman.

The sixth segment addresses directly some of the testimony in the defense.  The victim points out the assumed norms spoken of and how they play out - and support - the culture of sexual assault especially on college campuses.  


Men were included in the presentation in Clinton Square, reading a man's pledge regarding sexual violence, as well as Vice President Joe Biden's letter to the victim after her message was made public.
Credit Chris Bolt/WAER News

  Just about every victim of a sexual assault carries it with them, perhaps in both visible and concealed ways.  The Stanford Rape case victim, more than a year later, writes of experiencing such pain.

In the seventh segment of the letter, details some of the fallout, of not being able to sleep, not wanting to be touched, not being able to work.

Brock Turner was found guilty of three felony offenses.  His sentence of six months in jail was substantially less than the minimum for any one of those offenses.  He is required to register as a sex offender.

The final segment of the victim's message includes reactions to that sentence, including a probation report she says completely minimized the assault or Turner's continued lack of any contrition.

Men attended the presentation as allies of the women who were reading, acknowledging their role in combatting sexual violence
Credit Chris Bolt/WAER News

  Vice President Joe Biden has been working over the last two years on a campus sexual assault initiative called "It's On Us".  Biden wrote a public letter to the victim, expressing support for her, but also indicating how her case epitomizes the problem.  

Men showed up as allies to the Clinton Square presentation, reading a man's pledge to combat sexual violence.  Others read Biden's letter.