Her words have been shared around the world.
Her story: that of waking up in the hospital, without her underpants and being tested with a rape kit. Her discovery: that she’d been sexually assaulted behind a dumpster while unconscious. The statement of her rapist (The Stanford Rapist): lamenting the loss of his career, reputation, university position. His sentencing of only six-months for aggravated sexual assault when the maximum could have been 14 years. These fragments of the woman’s reality have shaken the world.
But we still don’t know her name.
‘Emily Doe’ is choosing to remain anonymous to protect herself, but also because she is “every woman”.
And in the wake of the incredible international reaction to her truly tragic story she has released a statement to a US Television network.
In a statement to KTVU Fox 2 she said:
I remain anonymous, yes to protect my identity.
But it is also a statement, that all of these people are fighting for someone they don’t know.
That’s the beauty of it. I don’t need labels, categories, to prove I am worthy of respect, to prove that I should be listened to.
I am coming out to you as simply a woman wanting to be heard.
Yes there is plenty more I’d like to tell you about me.
For now, I am every woman.
And she is. Her impact statement, where she shared details of the physical and psychological aftermath of that night, resonated so deeply with women around the world because it is an experience that has been / could be / might have been / almost was / a reality for many of us.
When she talked about reading the story of her rape in a news article, she showed the raw anguish and eerie disbelief of sexual assault survivors:
This can’t be me. I could not digest or accept any of this information. I could not imagine my family having to read about this on-line. I kept reading. In the next paragraph, I read something that I will never forgive; I read that according to him, I liked it. I liked it. Again, I do not have words for these feelings.
When she spoke about her sister picking her up from the hospital after she was swabbed, photographed, tested, she revealed the masks women use to protect the people they love while dealing with trauma:
My sister picked me up, face wet from tears and contorted in anguish. Instinctively and immediately, I wanted to take away her pain. I smiled at her, I told her to look at me, I’m right here, I’m okay, everything’s okay, I’m right here. She did not know that beneath my sweats, I had scratches and bandages on my skin, my vagina was sore and had become a strange, dark color from all the prodding, my underwear was missing, and I felt too empty to continue to speak.
When she spoke about preparing for the trial, and facing Brock Turner in court, she showed the confusion and self-doubt of all women who's stories have been relived, re-told, manipulated, exploited, torn apart, and put back together in a court of law:
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. It is the saddest type of confusion to be told I was assaulted and nearly raped, blatantly out in the open, but we don’t know if it counts as assault yet. I had to fight for an entire year to make it clear that there was something wrong with this situation.
She put words and context to the fear, anger, withdrawal, denial, sadness and incomprehension that result from sexual abuse.
You should have never done this to me. Secondly, you should have never made me fight so long to tell you, you should have never done this to me.
That's why she is every woman.
She showed the world how a woman's resilience can and will prevail. After sleeping for months, only in the daytime, for fear of nightmares. After a year of legal back-and-forth, fighting to send her rapist to prison. After listening to his denials, excuses, blame and incomprehension that what he did was monstrous. After becoming a different person - scared, timid, without confidence - this woman had the strength and bravery to wish her rapist a better life.
Right now your name is tainted, so I challenge you to make a new name for yourself, to do something so good for the world, it blows everyone away. You have a brain and a voice and a heart. Use them wisely.
I believe, that one day, you will understand all of this better. I hope you will become a better more honest person who can properly use this story to prevent another story like this from ever happening again.
That's why she is every woman.
This woman has a reason to protect herself. The world has a cruel tendency to victim-shame. This woman has shown the world the devastating repercussions of sexual assault; the scary reality that is the mind of a rapist; and the internal turmoil of sexual assault survivors. She doesn't need to cop further abuse at the hands of people who are too ignorant, insensitive or bigoted to understand or believe what she's been through - she's already seen this in the comments of Turner himself, his father and his childhood friend. She also doesn't need to re-live this experience at every job interview, social encounter, public occasion.
Emily Doe is every woman. But the woman behind this particular Emily Doe has been through enough.
Watch next: Women share experiences of sexual violence on Twitter.