“My damage was internal, unseen. I carry it with me. You took away my worth, my privacy, my energy, my time, my safety, my intimacy, my confidence, my own voice, until today.”

Chanel Miller, left, has written a memoir about dealing with the Brock Turner, right, sexual assault case. 

CBS News/Getty.

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On June 2, 2016, these words were spoken by a 23-year-old woman in a California courtroom.

She was addressing Brock Turner, a Stanford University student who was facing sentencing after being found guilty of three counts of sexual assault. The night of the attack, Turner—then nineteen and a member of Stanford’s swim team—had been chased down and apprehended by two international graduate students.

They’d witnessed Turner accosting a half-naked, unconscious woman outside of a party on campus—the same woman now standing before him in court.

“I stood there examining my body beneath the stream of water,” the woman continued, relaying her experience in emergency care, “and decided I don’t want my body anymore.

I was terrified of it . . . I wanted to take off my body like a jacket and leave it at the hospital with everything else.”

Unbeknown to Turner, the statement being read to him would be seen over 14 million times online in the following week. It would also be read, live and uninterrupted for 25 minutes, on CNN.

People were shocked and disturbed as the young woman—who remains unidentified to the public—detailed the psychological wreckage she’d endured in the aftermath of the assault: relentless anxiety, overwhelming shame, and chronic nightmares of being assaulted and unable to wake up.

Equally appalling to many was the lenient sentence Turner received: six months in a county jail instead of a potential 14 years in state prison.

The judge presiding over the case, himself a Stanford graduate, feared that a longer jail term would have a “severe impact” on Turner and negatively affect his Olympic aspirations—a topic frequently mentioned at trial.

In a character-witness letter to the court, Turner’s father wrote that Brock was being harshly punished for “20 minutes of action” and “had never been violent to anyone,” including the night of the assault.

The day after the verdict, I found myself at a café watching my closest friend read the victim’s statement.

It was haunting to witness her absorb the words. This was a friend who’d taught me about sexism—who’d raised my awareness about the social norms that objectified her as a woman, and shielded men like Turner in court.

It was also someone I loved.

Watching her eyes fill with tears, I felt a mix of anger and helplessness.

Virtually all the women in my life—my friend included—had been the victim of sexual violence.

She viscerally understood the agitation, flashbacks, and isolation that Turner’s victim had described.

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4 responses to this post.

  1. Ugh, this whole case pissed me off so much and still does just thinking about it.

  2. My girlfriend was gangraped by a fraternity in college

    The assault is horrific

    I saw a nice girl be destroyed
    Her reputation and self worth obliterated

    They actually bragged about it on our small campus

  3. I can’t bring myself to like that comment 😦 I’m so sorry she went through that.

  4. As a male who cared for her

    It was beyond sad

    She tried to hide everything

    I do not know why men think assaulting a woman is anything but cowardice

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