On Monday night, actresses Amber Heard, Freida Pinto and Gabourey Sidibe gave a voice to Emily Doe, the Stanford rape survivor.
The unnamed woman was being recognised as one of Glamour’s Women of the Year, but did not appear at the awards ceremony in Los Angeles. Doe is a pseudonym, and the survivor’s real identity has never been revealed.
But her presence was felt thanks to the three actresses reading aloud from the devastating victim impact statement she wrote earlier this year, which sparked an international conversation about attitudes towards sexual assault when it was published online.
After being introduced by Lena Dunham, Heard – who donated much of her $7 million divorce settlement from Johnny Depp to a charity combatting violence against women – said: “Emily, wherever you are, thank you for your words. Thank you for your courage. We carry it with us every day.”
Doe was sexually assaulted by Brock Turner as she lay unconscious behind a dumpster near Stanford University, California, in January 2015. At his trial in June, she made a powerful speech in which she attempted to make her attacker understand the significance of his actions.
“You don’t know me, but you’ve been inside me,” Doe’s statement famously began, “and that’s why we’re here today.”
Doe was praised for her unflinching analysis of the trauma of sexual assault and critique of rape culture. Doe later said she received messages of support from all around the world – including an open letter from US Vice President Joe Biden and notes of gratitude from sexual assault survivors in countries including Botswana, India and Ireland.
After Heard, Pinto and Sidibe read from Doe’s impact statement, Stanford Law School professor Michele Landis Dauber took to the stage to accept the Woman of the Year award on Doe’s behalf.
“The past year has been hard but through the worst times I’ve discovered I’m indestructible,” read Doe’s acceptance speech. “I was slow to learn, but now I can’t forget it.
“I hope every survivor is sharing the stage with me feeling proud – feeling part of this too. I am grateful to be among them, and tonight we have won together.”
Landis Dauber has led the campaign to have Aaron Persky, the judge who sentenced Turner to just six months in prison for his attack on Doe, recalled from the bench. Turner ultimately served just half of his sentence, and left prison in August after three months behind bars.
Images: Rex Features, Getty