I’m stepping away from my poetry today because I feel compelled to write about the statement written by the victim of the Stanford rape, for which the attacker was sentenced this past week. The victim shared her statement with BuzzFeed News, and they published it several days ago.
In a CNN article, “Show rape victim’s letter to your sons,” Mel Robbins encourages men to read the statement written by the victim, who read it aloud to the man who assaulted her.
I agree that men should read the statement, as it explains the impact that the rape and trial had on her. This goes well beyond the headlines we’re used to seeing and hearing when presented with news. These are the victim’s own words to describe the confusion, pain, anger, and more that she went through after learning of the assault and being questioned by the attacker’s attorney during the trial.
It’s achingly sad to read the letter. And shocking about the attacker’s behavior, of how he took advantage of the intoxicated and unconscious victim, and how he tried to justify it later — saying that she not only gave consent, but found pleasure in the act. Even though she was passed out during the assault.
Leslie Morgan Steiner offers more advice for men in her op-ed, “Why rape is a men’s issue.” Steiner encourages men to talk about rape with the women and girls in their lives, as well as to speak up if you see a woman in a vulnerable situation due to her age or drunkenness. Two men biking on the Stanford campus saw the assault and stopped it by chasing the attacker and ensuring he didn’t escape before the police arrived. These guys are heroes, no doubt.
The notion behind the two CNN articles being that men should learn more about rape and what they can do to help prevent it.
That’s what compelled me to share the link to the victim’s statement here. Because it boggles my mind that a man could violate an unwilling woman or another man. There’s no excuse for it. Doesn’t matter how horny the guy is. Doesn’t matter what the woman is wearing, or if she posted sexy selfies on Instagram. Doesn’t matter how much the guy binged on alcohol or drugs. Or how much the victim binged.
The rape victim’s statement is powerful, and it must’ve required a great deal of courage for her to read it aloud to her attacker in court.
I encourage men to read the statement, to listen to the victim explain the emotional havoc she endured. Us men would do well to learn more about the emotional impact of rape. If we teach girls to be vigilant in public against attackers, we can also teach boys that rape is an inexcusable act that has devastating consequences for victims. And that we can help women when they’re vulnerable instead of taking advantage of them.