Joe Biden to Stanford Rape Survivor: 'Your Story Has Already Changed Lives'
Vice President Joe Biden released an open letter Thursday about one week after the Stanford survivor released a powerful statement to Brock Turner.
The survivor letter's inspired millions by describing her rape in detail to Turner — the Stanford rapist and swimmer who had sexually assaulted her by a dumpster outside a fraternity house while she was lying unconscious and motionless. Many have been outraged at Turner's six-month sentencing ordered by Santa Clara Superior Court Judge Aaron Persky. It turns out Turner will likely only serve three of those six months.
In the letter, published in full at BuzzFeed, Biden applauded her courage in speaking about her experience and that her "story has already changed lives."
"We will speak of you — you who remain anonymous not only to protect your identity, but because you so eloquently represent 'every woman,'" he wrote. "We will make lighthouses of ourselves, as you did — and shine. Your story has already changed lives. You have helped change the culture."
He also directed much of the blame at the rape culture prevalent in society, those who engaged in victim-blaming and the bystanders at the party who didn't intervene when she was preyed on by Turner:
"I am filled with furious anger—both that this happened to you and that our culture is still so broken that you were ever put in the position of defending your own worth."
"Anyone at that party who saw that you were incapacitated yet looked the other way and did not offer assistance. Anyone who dismissed what happened to you as 'just another crazy night.' Anyone who asked 'what did you expect would happen when you drank that much?' or thought you must have brought it on yourself.
You were failed by a culture on our college campuses where one in five women is sexually assaulted—year after year after year. A culture that promotes passivity. That encourages young men and women on campuses to simply turn a blind eye."
Biden also expressed his gratitude for the survivor to speak up against the crime and trauma she had endured, but more specifically for giving other survivors the strength they need to fight:
You have shaken untold thousands out of the torpor and indifference towards sexual violence that allows this problem to continue.
Your words will help people you have never met and never will.
You have given them the strength they need to fight.
And so, I believe, you will save lives.
I do not know your name—but I will never forget you.
The millions who have been touched by your story will never forget you.
Biden has been vocal for decades on the fight to end sexual violence against women.
As a then-U.S. senator from Delaware, Biden drafted the 1994 Violence Against Women Act providing $1.6 billion in funding to investigate and prosecute violent crimes against women.
During the 2016 Oscars, Biden advocated for the end of rape culture on college campuses. When news broke out about female Harvard students experiencing sexual assault, Biden called for the end of final clubs — fraternity-like organizations popular in Ivy League institutions — where these incidents were often taking place.
As vice president, he helped launch a nationwide campaign, It's On Us, to end sexual assault on college campuses by encouraging students to safely engage in bystander intervention. The White House campaign also enlisted influential celebrities, like Kerry Washington and Matt McGorry, to advocate against sexual assault on campus.
Watch Mic's exclusive interview with Biden on ending the rape epidemic on college campuses: