This Beauty Queen Had The Best Response When Asked About Brock Turner On Stage
This is Jeanette Morelan. She's 21, a beauty queen and a sexual assault survivor.
But no one knew the latter until recently, when she bravely shared her story in front of thousands of people at this year's Miss Tennessee pageant.
Jeanette, who currently holds the Miss Nashville title, got to the top five and had stepped up for the Q&A round when one judge asked, "Did Brock Turner, convicted of sexually assaulting an unconscious woman, get too light a sentence?"
That's when she revealed the court case was closer to home than anyone could have imagined.
In an interview with Cosmopolitan, she said,
I was sexually assaulted my sophomore year — it's been about two years since it happened. As a rape survivor, any time you hear a story like that, you're following it from a distance to protect yourself. So I don't know if I really prepared myself to answer that question. I am actually a member of the Rape Abuse and Incest National Network (RAINN) Speakers' Bureau, and I'd had the opportunity to tell my story on behalf of that organization, but sharing it on a live stage at Miss Tennessee was scary. But when that question came, I knew in my heart that it was the right moment to speak out.
Jeanette explained she didn't confide in anyone about the assault for two months because she felt "deeply ashamed" and like her identity had been stripped from her.
"I had never met anyone who had been sexually assaulted. I don't think people talk about it enough. Because it does happen. And eventually it catches up to you and you have to deal with it, you have to talk through it. That is a long and painful process for anyone to go through."
Jeanette didn't win the beauty pageant, but she said she wouldn't replace the experience and chance to tell her story. Now she's doing her best to inspire women around the world to talk about sexual assault. She added,
There were those two months when I was suffering alone and I didn't have any help. You can stop that by just reaching out to one person. There are so many women and men that have experienced something like that, and haven't had the courage to reach out to someone and get help. If my story can help one person do that, it's worth it to me.