The Stanford Rape Victim’s Latest Statement Boldly Explains Why She’s Remaining Anonymous

A promising Stanford University swimmer’s rape conviction has rightfully thrown sexual assault issues into the public consciousness. Brock Turner, 20, was found guilty of three felony sexual assault charges and sentenced to six months in jail and three years probation, while a letter penned by his victim quickly circulated the internet, showcasing how sexual assault survivors are affected by their assaults and how poorly they’re treated in court. Speaking out for the first time since Turner’s lenient sentence, the Stanford rape victim’s latest statement says she’s “every woman” — and she absolutely is.

The case’s prosecutor released a statement explaining her decision to not reveal her identity to KTVU Fox 2 on her behalf. In it, she explains that remaining anonymous is obviously about protecting herself from being bombarded by the press and public, but also to make a statement about all rape survivors. By hiding her identity, she’s able to make her individual case about widespread rape issues instead of solely what happened to her. “I remain anonymous, yes to protect my identity,” she wrote. “But it is also a statement, that all of these people are fighting for someone they don’t know.” Saying that she’s “every woman,” Turner’s victim highlighted how prevalent sexual assaults are and the fact that millions of women have gone through it.

Her full statement read:

“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.”

This rape story is particularly distressing because Turner likely wouldn’t have been caught, much less prosecuted, if two graduate students hadn’t happened upon him raping the unconscious, half-naked woman behind a dumpster on the university campus in January 2015. The unnamed victim testified in court that she had no memory of the assault, and only learning the details of how she was found and what happened to her in a news article. In her statement to the court, she described all the negative effects the assault had on her. “I tried to push it out of my mind, but it was so heavy I didn’t talk, I didn’t eat, I didn’t sleep, I didn’t interact with anyone,” she said. “After work, I would drive to a secluded place to scream.”

Writing such a powerful, honest letter to the judge and the man who assaulted her took a lot of courage and has helped the world better understand what survivors go through. “She has given a voice to so many victims of sexual assault who have been silenced,” prosecutor Alaleh Kianerci said on CNN. Remaining anonymous in order to represent “every woman” has allowed her to point out that every woman is at risk of being victimized if they haven’t been already.

An American is sexually assaulted every two minutes, according to the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network (RAINN), and one out of every six U.S. women has been the victim of either an attempted or completed rape. College-age women are three to four times more likely to be sexually assaulted than women of other ages, and 11 percent of college students experience rape or sexual assault through physical force, violence, or incapacitation. The Daily Beast’s Olivia Messer reports that Stanford University alone had a reported rape every two weeks before Turner’s crime.

Those statistics don’t even touch upon the threats of assault women face simply walking down the sidewalk. No, not every woman has been raped, but millions have, and every woman lives with the knowledge and fear that it could happen to her. The Stanford rape victim’s choice to remain anonymous may seem less than brave, but it was actually a bold choice to take on the larger issue of rape in America for all women.