Dear Emily Doe - An Open Letter to the Survivor of the Stanford Rapist
I don't know, yet I am you. I did not survive your experience, but I survived my own horrific morning 16 years ago and another horrific night 3 and a half years ago. I don't know what it is like to be you or to live inside your forever changed mind, but I know what it is like to be terrified of your own thoughts and body. I know what it feels like to live in a skin you desperately need to take off because it feels dirty and just plain wrong.
Emily, that horrible night you became part of a club that every woman prays she will never join. You joined a club whose membership was violently forced upon you. You joined a club in which each member is a statistic. Yet, in joining this terrible club you earned a new label: Survivor. While membership in this club is the loneliest experience in the world, please know, Emily, that you are far from alone. You are a part of a group of the strongest women in the world. We are women who have experienced the worst of humanity and have lived to tell about it. We stand together, united forever by a common experience. We stand together in support of you as your sisters.
You may feel like no one on the planet knows what you are thinking, feeling, and experiencing. You may feel like you are barely existing from day to day, with some days barely being able to face the world. I am here to tell you that it is OK to feel that way. However you are feeling is OK and no one has the right to tell you otherwise. If you need to scream, scream. If you need to cry, cry. If you need to rage, rage. There is nothing that you are feeling that could ever be considered wrong.
I want to thank you, Emily, for doing what I was not strong enough to do. You stood up in court and held him accountable. Even though the judge failed in his sentencing duties, you were brave and mighty! Your statement was one of the courageous things I have ever read. In that statement, you spoke for me and the countless others who, for whatever reason, didn't feel we could press charges. You stood for all of us and you were fierce!
After reading your statement I know that you have everything within you to fight for yourself and come out on the other side of this nightmare. It is not an easy process. It is long, dark and painful, but I promise you that there is light. There will be days when even breathing is an effort, but then there will be days that you find yourself going hours without it even entering your mind. You will learn how to cope with triggers. You will learn what helps you cope with the bad days. Throughout all of this, don't forget to celebrate the good days, the beautiful moments and wonderful things in your life. That is the most important thing, Emily. Don't allow him to take away the all of the good that is in your life. He doesn't have the right to take anything else from you. Every day that you decide to fight weakens him. The power is yours, Emily. All you have to do is take it.