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Vice President Joe Biden to Stanford Rape Victim: 'You Are a Warrior'

Vice President Joe Biden on Thursday joined the massive public response to a Stanford rape case, penning an open letter to the survivor in which he praised her courage for speaking publicly against her attacker and the way she was treated by the justice system.

Biden did not, however, address the main source of controversy: a judge's decision to give the rapist, Stanford University swimmer Brock Turner, a six-month jail term.

"I do not know your name — but your words are forever seared on my soul," Biden wrote in a letter he provided to Buzzfeed News. "Words that should be required reading for men and women of all ages. Words that I wish with all of my heart you never had to write."

Brock outside Santa Clara Superior Courthouse in Palo Alto, California. Dan Honda / AP

The survivor, who has not been named publicly, drew national attention to the case after Turner's sentencing, in which she read apersonal statement describing in detail the January 2015 attack and its physical and emotional toll on her.

The woman, now 23, also criticized attempts by Turner and his lawyer to sift through the details of her life — and make an issue of the fact she was drunk at the time of the attack. Her intoxication was also cited by Santa Clara County Superior Court Judge Aaron Persky when he explained the sentence.

Persky is now the subject of a furious backlash. So is Turner's father, who in his own statement to the court said his son shouldn't be judged for "20 minutes of action."

Biden said he was "in awe" of the survivor "for so clearly naming the wrongs that were done to you and so passionately asserting your equal claim to human dignity."

The vice president added: "And 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. It must have been wrenching — to relive what he did to you all over again. But you did it anyway, in the hope that your strength might prevent this crime from happening to someone else. Your bravery is breathtaking. You are a warrior — with a solid steel spine."

Biden told the survivor that she was failed by a system that did not take campus rape seriously enough.

And he told her she'd already had an impact.

"Your story has already changed lives," Biden wrote. "You have helped change the culture." 

Story from:

To read the powerful letter by the Stanford Survivor click on the link below

First prevention and awareness summit held in Forsyth

Discussed ways to prevent child abuse and sexual assault



FORSYTH COUNTY, Ga. — While rape, domestic violence and trauma are subjects that are generally not openly discussed, they still occur with heartbreaking frequency within the Forsyth County community.

As part of the response in Forsyth, the first Prevention and Awareness Forum was held April 21. The sold-out event featured guests discussing ways to prevent child abuse and sexual assault, according to Tennile Chapman, who helped organize the forum and is a victim support manager, financial director and child advocate at Forsyth County Child Advocacy Center.

Often, Chapman and others in similar organizations go to trainings out of the county.

“I talked to my executive director about partnering with other agencies,” she said. “We approached Forsyth County’s domestic violence task force and said, ‘We want to bring a training here.’”

The timing of the event is fitting as April is both National Child Abuse Prevention Month and Sexual Assault Awareness Month.

“A lot of that goes hand in hand,” she said. “It’s not common for someone to just be a victim of ‘just that.’ It’s usually overlapping or, if they’re victims as adults, often they had abuse in their past. It’s a cycle.”

So Chapman reached out to groups including Family Haven, Rape Response and King’s Treasure Box to get the community together to discuss and learn.

Agency representatives joined together to figure out what speakers they knew and came up with a full day of topics. Sessions included domestic violence awareness, who is hurting our children, and surviving and finding hope.

“We had to extend the day because there was such a wealth of knowledge,” she said. “There was a lot more support than we thought there would be.”

One of the sessions — impact of trauma — was presented by Anjana Freeman with Rape Response. She gave a lesson on the brain and why humans do certain things, including why some of the children and teenagers these groups help act the way they do.

“Asking adults, teenagers and children who have experienced trauma to calm down, using our authority to try to control them, increases the activity in the brain,” Freeman said. “We’re making it worse.”

For Chapman, prevention was the major goal she wanted everyone to take from the event.

“Their childhood sets them up for adulthood,” she said. “If they’re experiencing all this trauma in their childhood, it carries over. Especially if they’re not able to get the help they need. It sets them up for future heartache and hardship. If you can prevent child abuse, you’re building stronger and healthier adults and giving them a better chance to make it.”

The amount of support from the community, Chapman said, means the public is realizing these issues do happen in Forsyth County.

“We can’t just sit there and say ‘this doesn’t happen in our community,’” she said. “It does happen, more than we think or realize. We have to do something or it’s only going to get worse. This is the first step.”


Activist Katie Koestner speaks up for Sexual Assault Awareness Month


George Dunlap

Katie Koestner, one of the first victims of date rape to speak out nationally about the problem, shares her story.

By George Dunlap, Writer

Katie Koestner, one of the first victims of date rape to speak out nationally, visited Akron to discuss her tragic experiences on April 5. Koestner’s discussion, titled Take Back the Night, was the second event in a series for the Sexual Assault Awareness Month of April.

In 1991, Koestner appeared on the cover of Times Magazine and two years later, HBO produced a movie about her story. Koestner’s ordeal helped in the fight against sexual assault and, in 1992, had enough support to attract national attention.

During this year, Congress and President George H.W. Bush passed a law known as the Campus Sexual Assault Victim’s Bill of Rights.

Koestner started off the night with a comedic backstory about her life in high school and her first boyfriends, but later turned those stories into heartbreak. Koestner spoke of her encounters with a friend who pushed for more than what she was comfortable with. Silent, the audience anticipated what was going to come next.

Multiple times Koestner said she was glad that she finally spoke up against her date rapist and that she was glad that the audience was interested in her story.

“I am thankful for you all being here to listen to me for 38 minutes,” said Koestner. “I want you all to know that I want you to walk away from this feeling something. This isn’t just a discussion that you can walk away from and think ‘yeah I know that rape is bad, why did I even come here?’”

After Koestner’s speech, attendees were invited to join in the march around campus for the safety of women to “take back the night.”

Date rape occurs most frequently on college campuses. It typically involves date rape drugs, which are used to incapacitate victims.

Approximately one in four college women are date raped or experience an attempted date rape during their time in college. Eighty-four percent of women who have been raped know their rapist. Forty-two percent of women who are date raped do not tell anyone about their rape at all.

Victims of rape and sexual assault are more likely to attempt or consider suicide. Women between the ages of 16 and 24 are four times more likely to be date raped than any other age group.

On Monday, April 18, there will be another event called Let’s Talk! Men’s Action Night, where men are encouraged to stand up against sexual assault on college campuses.

On Friday, April 29, the final event for Sexual Assault Awareness month will be held at Lock 3 in downtown Akron. This will be the 11th annual “Walk a Mile in Her Shoes.”

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Rape Response is looking for a Full-Time Bilingual Advocate. Check out our "Employement Opportunities" for more information.
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