8 Devastating Moments From the Stanford Rape Victim's Powerful Letter

The Internet has been abuzz with a letter written by a 23-year-old Stanford rape victim. Her attacker, a former swimmer for Stanford named Brock Turner, was found guilty of sexual assault after being caught raping the unconscious woman behind a dumpster. Despite the woman's powerful letter about how the assault and the trial have altered her forever, Turner received a sentence of just six months with the judge expressing concern over the fact that a longer sentence would "have a severe impact on him."


The woman had gone to a party with her younger sister. She came to in a hospital, with pine needles in her hair, abrasions on her body, no underwear and no memory of what had happened to her. Turner argued that the sex was consensual after two other students saw him on top of the immobile, half-naked woman and chased him.

Here are eight of the most amazing lines in the letter.

1. The morning after the attack:

"...all that I was told was that I had been found behind a dumpster, potentially penetrated by a stranger, and that I should get retested for HIV because results don’t always show up immediately. But for now, I should go home and get back to my normal life. Imagine stepping back into the world with only that information."

2. Several days later:

"One day, I was at work, scrolling through the news on my phone, and came across an article. In it, I read and learned for the first time about how I was found unconscious, with my hair disheveled, long necklace wrapped around my neck, bra pulled out of my dress, dress pulled off over my shoulders and pulled up above my waist, that I was butt naked all the way down to my boots, legs spread apart, and had been penetrated by a foreign object by someone I did not recognize. This was how I learned what happened to me, sitting at my desk reading the news at work. I learned what happened to me the same time everyone else in the world learned what happened to me."

3. On her reaction to reading the news:

"It’s like if you were to read an article where a car was hit, and found dented, in a ditch. But maybe the car enjoyed being hit. Maybe the other car didn’t mean to hit it, just bump it up a little bit. Cars get in accidents all the time, people aren’t always paying attention, can we really say who’s at fault."

4. And then this little tidbit, which sets the stage for everything:

"... after I learned about the graphic details of my own sexual assault, the article listed his swimming times."

5. What she thought would happen:

"I thought there’s no way this is going to trial; there were witnesses, there was dirt in my body, he ran but was caught. He’s going to settle, formally apologize, and we will both move on."

6. What actually happened:

"I was not only told that I was assaulted, I was told that because I couldn’t remember, I technically could not prove it was unwanted. And that distorted me, damaged me, almost broke me."

7. She was put on the stand and peppered with questions. Turner said he suddenly remembered, a year after the assault, that she had consented. She had a little question about that:

"Two Swedes on bicycles approached you and you ran. When they tackled you why didn’t say, “Stop! Everything’s okay, go ask her, she’s right over there, she’ll tell you.” I mean you had just asked for my consent, right? I was awake, right? When the policeman arrived and interviewed the evil Swede who tackled you, he was crying so hard he couldn’t speak because of what he’d seen."

8. Turner was found guilty and has since taken the position that drinking was to blame. The victim disagrees:

"Alcohol is not an excuse. Is it a factor? Yes. But alcohol was not the one who stripped me, fingered me, had my head dragging against the ground, with me almost fully naked. Having too much to drink was an amateur mistake that I admit to, but it is not criminal. Everyone in this room has had a night where they have regretted drinking too much, or knows someone close to them who has had a night where they have regretted drinking too much. Regretting drinking is not the same as regretting sexual assault. We were both drunk, the difference is I did not take off your pants and underwear, touch you inappropriately, and run away. That’s the difference."

Read the victim's letter in its entirety on Buzzfeed.

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