It was through one powerful letter that “Emily Doe,” the woman who was sexually assaulted by Stanford freshman Brock Turner last January as she lay unconscious behind a dumpster, gained her voice.
On Monday, Doe continued to speak out against sexual assault through another written message, delivered at Glamour’s “Women of the Year” Awards in Los Angeles.
Though Doe was one of the women being honored, she was notably absent from the ceremony — but said in prepared remarks that she was proud, grateful and still “determined to fight back and create joy in this life.”
“The past year has been hard but through the worst times I’ve discovered I’m indestructible,” Doe wrote in a letter read aloud on stage by Stanford law professor Michele Dauber. “I was slow to learn, but now I can’t forget it.”
Doe has not used her real name publicly, and The Washington Post does not typically identify victims of sexual assault. In her letter for the Glamour awards, Doe said she was watching the ceremony from home and hoped other survivors would draw strength from doing the same.
“I hope every survivor is sharing the stage with me feeling proud — feeling part of this too,” Doe wrote. “I am grateful to be among them, and tonight we have won together.”
The assault took place near a Stanford fraternity house last January but gained nationwide attention after Doe wrote a wrenching impact statement that was directed at Turner in court, describing at length the toll the attack had taken on her.
“You don’t know me, but you’ve been inside me, and that’s why we’re here today,” the 12-page statement began. It went on to excoriate Turner and called his six-month jail sentence “a soft timeout.”
“You took away my worth, my privacy, my energy, my time, my safety, my intimacy, my confidence, my own voice, until today,” she wrote, adding: “The damage is done, no one can undo it. And now we both have a choice. We can let this destroy us, I can remain angry and hurt, and you can be in denial, or we can face it head on. I accept the pain, you accept the punishment, and we move on.”
Turner was convicted of sexual assault and sentenced to six months in jail. His punishment was widely criticized for being too lenient and sparked public outrage, as well as a petition to recall California Superior Court Judge Aaron Persky.
Turner was released from a Northern California jail in early September after serving only three months; he then moved to Ohio, where he registered as a sex offender.
After BuzzFeed News published Doe’s full impact statement in June, the letter quickly went viral — becoming an account that “changed the conversation about sexual assault forever,” according to Glamour.
For those reasons, the magazine said, Doe was named a 2016 “Woman of the Year.”
The ceremony Monday was a glitzy affair, complete with a red carpet and dozens of celebrities. Other women receiving Glamour’s annual “Woman of the Year” award included gold-medal Olympian gymnast Simone Biles; Alicia Garza, Patrisse Cullors and Opal Tometi, founders of the Black Lives Matter movement; human rights activist Nadia Murad, who survived ISIS captivity; the actress Zendaya; designer Miuccia Prada; Christine Lagarde, head of the International Monetary Fund; model Ashley Graham; and singer Gwen Stefani.
Seemingly to his own befuddlement, U2 lead singer (and man) Bono was among the honorees.
At the ceremony, actress Lena Dunham spoke of her own experience being sexually assaulted as a junior in college before she went on to honor Doe.
“The story is very familiar,” Dunham said. “… The predicability of this narrative is depressing but also oddly heartening, because it means that, over the last few years, campus assault has emerged, guns blazing, from the category of things we dare not speak of.”
Actresses Gabourey Sidibe, Freida Pinto and Amber Heard also read aloud Doe’s original impact statement on stage, as well as an essay she wrote for Glamour’s December issue.
When Dauber, the Stanford professor, was accepting the award on behalf of Doe, she made a nod to the recent presidential election, in which sexual assault became a central issue after a video leaked of then-Republican nominee Donald Trump bragging that he could kiss and touch women freely because he was “a star.”
“Grab them by the p—y,” Trump says in the recording of a 2005 conversation with Billy Bush, then “Access Hollywood” co-host. “You can do anything.”
“I’m devastated that we have elected a president who bragged about committing sexual assault,” Dauber said before reading Doe’s letter, according to Glamour. “However, now it’s time to get to work.”
In her remarks, Doe thanked Glamour “for seeing me through my words and giving me a voice without having to see me physically” and said she hoped to one day meet the other female honorees in person.
“I am one of so many who have fought before me… so many who have had enough,” she wrote. “I stand among millions of groundbreaking Emily Does. I have seen them speaking. I have seen the strength that accompanies healing.”
Read Doe’s prepared essay in full below, courtesy Glamour magazine:
Hello. First, I would like to say thank you to Cindi Leive and to Glamour for recognizing me tonight. Thank you for seeing me through my words and giving me a voice without having to see me physically. Thank you for honoring me among the incredible women I’m determined to one day meet.
I want to thank my prosecutor who powerfully fought for justice for me. I’d also like to recognize Katie Baker at BuzzFeed and Kirby Dick and Amy Ziering for enabling so many survivors [with their film The Hunting Ground]. I want to say thank you to my mom and dad for buying 10 copies of the magazine, and to my younger sister, the reason why I’m so determined to fight back and create joy in this life.
The past year has been hard but through the worst times I’ve discovered I’m indestructible. I was slow to learn, but now I can’t forget it.
I am one of so many who have fought before me… so many who have had enough. I stand among millions of groundbreaking Emily Does. I have seen them speaking. I have seen the strength that accompanies healing.
Right now, I’m watching the award show from home know many survivors watching at home too. I hope every survivor is sharing the stage with me feeling proud — feeling part of this too. I am grateful to be among them, and tonight we have won together.
With every setback, the word show know every survivor has a story. Every story is our power. Together, we are louder than any system or person who threatens to silence us. Together we are countless and unstoppable. Now, we are indignantly rising. Be excited. Keep going. I’ll be fighting alongside you.