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Brock Turner sex-assault survivor honored as one of Glamour's 'Women of the Year'

Palo Alto native pens essay on reaction to her now-famous impact statement

"Emily Doe," the anonymous young woman and Palo Alto native at the center of the firestorm around the high-profile sentencing of former Stanford University student Brock Turner, has been named as one of Glamour magazine's "Women of the Year," the publication announced Tuesday.

Doe is among 11 women — and for the first time, one man — who received the annual award, which honors "innovators and newsmakers" in a variety of fields, a press release states.

It was Doe's 7,000-plus word victim impact statement — a powerful recounting of the residual trauma of sexual violence and a plea for time in state prison without probation for Turner, who had been convicted of three sexual-assault felonies — that ignited a firestorm of reaction across the world. Her words were published in local, national and international media outlets; read in full by Congressmembers on the U.S. House floor and by reporters on live television; and recognized by figures from Vice President Joe Biden to local elected officials in Palo Alto. Legislation inspired by the case was proposed and signed into California state law within two months.

"It was Doe's take-no-prisoners telling of what happened afterward -- the relentless victim-blaming; the favoring of Turner, a student athlete -- that changed the conversation about sexual assault forever," Glamour Editor-in-Chief Cindi Leive writes in the December issue of the magazine, which features the 12 "Women of the Year."

Leive wrote in an email to the Weekly that Glamour "chose Emily Doe because her words made the entire country sit up and pay attention to what survivors of sexual assault really go through.

"As a culture, we have a lot of rationalizations about assault -- 'she was drinking,' 'he was partying,' 'what was she wearing?' -- and Emily cut through every one of them with her perfect, precise words. I don't think you can read her victim's impact statement and not think differently about these issues, and for that, she is a Woman of the Year."

And for the first time, Doe, a graduate of Gunn High School, has reflected publicly on the impact of her letter in a piece published online and to be featured in the December issue.

"From the beginning, I was told I was a best case scenario," her essay opens. There was forensic evidence, and multiple witnesses were present. Turner was arrested at the scene, charged, put on trial and convicted of three sexual-assault felonies.

Despite that, Judge Aaron Persky sentenced Turner to six months in county jail, of which he ultimately served half due to credit for good behavior.

"I began to panic; I thought, this can't be the best case scenario," she wrote. "If this case was meant to set the bar, the bar had been set on the floor."

In the essay, Doe describes feeling overwhelmed by the positive reaction to her impact statement. But one online comment stuck in her mind: "Sad. I hope my daughter never ends up like her."

"I absorbed that statement. Ends up. As if we end up somewhere, as if what was done to me marked the completion of my story. Instead of being a role model to be looked up to, I was a sad example to learn from, a story that caused you to shield your daughter's eyes and shake your heads with pity.

"But when my letter was published, no one turned away. No one said, 'I'd rather not look, it's too much, or too sad.' Everyone pushed through the hard parts, saw me fully to the end and embraced every feeling," she wrote.

Doe also condemned Persky for his sentencing decision and offered her support to a recall campaign to unseat him. That campaign is chaired by Michele Dauber, a Stanford law professor and family friend of Doe.

"When Judge Aaron Persky mutes the word 'justice,' when Brock Turner serves one month for every felony, we go nowhere. When we all make it a priority to avoid harming or violating another human being, and when we hold accountable those who do, when the campaign to recall this judge declares that survivors deserve better, then we are going somewhere," Doe wrote.

Since Doe is choosing to remain anonymous, Dauber will accept the Glamour award on her behalf at a ceremony in Los Angeles on Nov. 14. Doe has declined interviews.

Dauber praised Doe's victim statement for the impact it's had in the world.

"It moved people and created a tidal wave of compassion and empathy for sexual-assault survivors," Dauber wrote in an email. "But its real significance lies in its impact as a political document, as a declaration of the 'End of Business as Usual.' Locally, the recall election of Judge Persky is sending the message that we are no longer going to tolerate a situation in which these serious crimes against women are treated like minor misdemeanors."

This year's "Women of the Year" are Doe; Olympic gymnast Simone Biles; Black Lives Matter founders Patrisse Cullors, Alicia Garza and Opal Tometi; plus-size model Ashley Graham; International Monetary Fund Managing Director Christine Lagarde; human rights activist Nadia Murad; designer Miuccia Prada; singer Gwen Stefani; actress and activist Zendaya; and Glamour's first "Man of the Year," singer Bono. Glamour made headlines last year for giving the award to Caitlyn Jenner, a transgender woman.

An advisory board composed of past honorees and Glamour editors select the 2016 "Women of the Year." The December issue of Glamour, with Doe's essay, will be released next Tuesday, Nov. 8.

The Palo Alto Weekly has created a Storify archive of ongoing coverage of the Brock Turner case as well as sexual-assault issues at Stanford University. To view them, go to storify.com/paloaltoweekly.

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