This week, the nation has been rocked by extensive coverage surrounding Brock Turner, a 20-year-old man who sexually assaulted an unconscious woman the Stanford University campus in 2015, and his subsequent trial and six-month sentence.
Brock's father added to the maelstrom, issuing a letter stating his son's sentence was overly steep for "20 minutes of action," drawing widely-shared criticism claiming that Turner's father and Turner himself perpetual rape culture in their continued disbelief and defensiveness.
The victim's statement had an immediate impact on me, as a sexual abuse and assault survivor myself — it reminded me more than ever that people need to hear and read the words of sexual assault victims.
They need to know what we go through, know what we endure, and know what we survive.
This essay is important for so many reasons: it documents the experiences of a queer and trans rape survivor who isn't a woman, and tells about the importance of the imperfect victim narrative, in which they didn't say no and were in a relationship with their rapist.
Rape, we’re told, is not about sex; it’s about power.
That power reveals itself through force, force that is visibly apparent and physical.
But that same power, that same force, can also be unseen, coercive, psychological.
What hit home, in particular, was the sexual assault survivor's powerful impact statement, read on-air by CNN's Ashleigh Banfield.
Hearing the victim's words read aloud, listening to the gritty details about the physical and emotional trauma she endured, has caused some commentators to label the letter "required reading" for everyone from sons to college freshman.