Adrienne Lafrance in The Atlantic:
It’s impossible to know how many sexual assaults go unreported. But the 23-year-old victim in a sexual assault case that has touched off a national uproar did speak out. “You don’t know me, but you’ve been inside me, and that’s why we’re here today,” she said in a statement, which she read to her attacker in a Palo Alto courtroom last week. The woman went on to describe, in painstaking detail, what she experienced in the hours and months after she was found half-naked and unconscious behind a dumpster on Stanford’s campus the night of the attack. The victim’s statement to Brock Turner, the former Stanford student convicted of sexually assaulting her, has been viewed online millions of times since last week. A CNN anchor read the statement, in full, on television. Representative Jackie Speier, a California Democrat, read it aloud on the House floor. The case, which resulted in a six-month jail sentence and probation for Turner, has touched off furor among those who say the punishment is too light, and sparked vigorous debate about the intersection of sexual assault, privilege, and justice.
This is an astounding moment, in part because it’s so rare for sexual violence, despite its ubiquity, to garner this kind of attention. “It’s incredible,” said Michele Dauber, a Stanford Law School professor who has pressed for the recall of the judge who sentenced Turner. “Why did that happen? First of all, it’s the tremendous power and clarity of thought that is reflected in the survivor’s statement.” “She is helping people to understand this experience in a visceral and clear way,” Dauber added. “And she’s brushing away all the really toxic politics around campus assault that have built up. People have said, ‘How can we really believe these women? It’s his word against hers.’ This men’s rights movement has emerged. And there’s been a lot of rage happening out there. Then, whoosh, [this statement] really reframed it.”