The Voice of the Victim

13/06/2016 15:04 | Updated 13 June 2016

To anyone who has not yet read the statement from the victim of Brock Turner: it is so important that you do so.

The strength and dignity this woman upholds is astounding - her words encapsulate perfectly the feelings of intrusion during a post-assault examination; her struggles to believe what has happened to her; the loss of grip on the frayed ropes of her denial; and finally, her realisation. The feeling of sickness and hopelessness and skin-crawling uncleanness that accompanies her acceptance.

She describes the interviews, the interrogations, a swarm of accusatory questions buzzing around her ears. That which she doesn't remember, she is told Brock will be allowed to "fill in the gaps".

And then - her quiet indignation at his story, his attempt to cover up the atrocities of his actions, his regret for the amount of alcohol he drank but not for the sexual assault he committed. Brock Turner is entitled, he is a criminal, but most importantly - he is not a victim. Read the letter from his father - pay attention to his attitude and his attempts to persuade you that his son is someone to feel sorry for - read it, but do not believe it. Brock Turner is not a victim. He is not the victim.

When sexual assault victims come forward, it is not only incredibly brave but also very uncommon. Just over one third of rapes are reported, and out of 1,000 rapes, only 6 perpetrators will be incarcerated. Combine these disheartening statistics with social media comments - imagine strangers voicing their opinions on your body, on your drinking habits, on your choice of clothes. Strangers trying to justify your assault.

Imagine turning on the news to find that they are not using your rapist's mugshot in their report, but instead a picture of him smiling brightly, complemented by newsreaders who choose their words carefully to convey him not as a rapist but as a Stanford star athlete.

Imagine standing in a courtroom opposite your attacker, along with a jury who will learn every intricate detail of your assault, as well as your past. Listening to your rapist tell a room full of people that you consented to the assault he committed; having your story and your memory and your level of responsibility questioned, all over again. And then - despite a guilty verdict - imagine your rapist being sentenced to only six months, to avoid the "severe impact" it would have on him.

I ask you again to read this woman's statement. We must pay attention to her side of the story, we must appreciate her bravery, we must listen to her voice despite others' attempts to silence it. For every instance of misdirected blame, for every statement carefully constructed to invalidate her story, we must stand up and fight with her. Do not let Brock Turner fill in the gaps in her story; for it is too important and too courageous to be tampered with.

She states that she is with girls everywhere; I hope that girls everywhere are with her too.