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Review of Letters in The Stanford Sexual Assault Case

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Rhetorical Analysis on Stanford Rape Victim’s Letter

“This is not a story of another drunk college hook­up with poor decision making. Assault is not an accident.” The Stanford Rape victim, who still remains anonymous, directly addressed Brock Turner in court after a year of going through trial. She had detailed the severe impact his actions had on her, from the night she read online that she had been assaulted by a stranger while unconscious, to the grueling trial during which Turner’s attorneys argued that she had consented to the sexual encounter. The audience intended to read this article is mainly women – entering college, or around the party scene. The focus of this letter is the victim trying to bring awareness to not only women, but to men about the precautions of rape. If only I had the ability to watch her read this letter aloud. The author, while reading directly to the defendant, is trying to convince the jury that Brock Turner will not serve the time that he should have for committing this crime against humanity.

Within many points that the victim makes, she appeals to ethos as she attempts to show the audience that she did not allow the assault to diminish her being, but it allowed her to stand up against this man and fight. In order to get the audience to sympathize with her, she went into great personal detail about how she feels, “I tried to push it out of my mind, but it was so heavy I didn’t talk, I didn’t eat, I didn’t sleep, I didn’t interact with anyone. After work, I would drive to a secluded place to scream. I didn’t talk, I didn’t eat, I didn’t sleep, I didn’t interact with anyone, and I became isolated from the ones I loved most”. Later, she also adds how her family feels, and how it affects her life to this day. “My independence, natural joy, gentleness, and steady lifestyle I had been enjoying became distorted beyond recognition. I became closed off, angry, self deprecating, tired, irritable, empty. The isolation at times was unbearable. You cannot give me back the life I had before that night either.” She was the victim in court, and she had to argue how she felt after a year of keeping quiet. By using her personal experiences, describing the impacts it has on her life, and speaking about it directly to Turner, this makes her a credible source.

By writing in a letter format, it made the argument even more personal, allowing listeners and readers to understand and empathize more about the tragedy. This is how she used her main strategy of pathos. In hearing someone speak the letter on television, even though it was not the victim, the words came across so powerfully, and the victim held no details back. She also argues that just when someone who is heavily intoxicated cannot give consent, it does not mean yes, and you are not allowed to make that decision for anyone. “He admitted to wanting to hook up with someone. I was the wounded antelope of the herd, completely alone and vulnerable, physically unable to fend for myself, and he chose me.”

This time and place was the perfect setting to address Turner, because at this trial, after a year of keeping quiet and letting him try to get away with it, she realizes what sort of justice she deserves and how he should not get away so easily with this crime. “He pushed me and my family through a year of inexplicable, unnecessary suffering, and should face the consequences of challenging his crime, of putting my pain into question, of making us wait so long for justice… I also told the probation officer that what I truly wanted was for Brock to get it, to understand and admit to his wrongdoing”. This case, and this letter, is essential for all men and women in college to understand. Those who want to drink, those that drink too much, and those who need to learn what true consent is.

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Review of Letters in the Stanford Sexual Assault Case. (2019, April 26). GradesFixer. Retrieved January 26, 2022, from
“Review of Letters in the Stanford Sexual Assault Case.” GradesFixer, 26 Apr. 2019,
Review of Letters in the Stanford Sexual Assault Case. [online]. Available at: <> [Accessed 26 Jan. 2022].
Review of Letters in the Stanford Sexual Assault Case [Internet]. GradesFixer. 2019 Apr 26 [cited 2022 Jan 26]. Available from:
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