The victim in the Stanford rape case has remained anonymous throughout the entire trial and the public backlash over the extremely light sentence for the perpetrator, Brock Turner, who was given only six months for three felony counts of sexual assault.
Why a victim of a brutal and now extremely public crime would want to stay anonymous is no great surprise; rape trials and their subsequent media attention are horrendously painful, and as always, the defense's primary legal strategy hinged upon victim-blaming and victim-discrediting.
But, although she preserved her anonymity, she has been far from silent.
In a withering and heartbreaking letter she read in court directly to her attacker, she bravely spoke out against the defense attorneys and Brock Turner and about how rape culture has permeated our universities, our justice system and, most troublingly, our homes.
Today, however, the victim finally released a statement through the prosecutor to KTVU, explaining exactly why she chose to remain anonymous throughout all of this and why she thinks it's so important. 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.
Now, I know any person reading this has probably seen a slew of articles over the last few days regarding this case, and you may have even thought to yourself,
OK, enough is enough. I don't want to read about this anymore.
But the thing is the Stanford rape victim is just an isolated case in an epidemic -- a national epidemic.
Because, whether we like it or not, the fact is we live in a culture that encourages many men to believe they are entitled to women's bodies, and as proven by this case, we live in a country whose justice system is at least, in part, run by men who are willing to excuse these men if they are talented enough, rich enough, white enough.
So, we need to keep writing, reading and talking about this case and this woman, whoever she is -- and the next woman, and the next one -- because for every sexual assault case that gets any sort of media attention, there are thousands upon thousands that go unremarked, unreported or simply pushed under the rug.