The Stanford sexual assault survivor's letter to her assailant touched the hearts of many, including Vice President Joe Biden, who wrote back.
Biden sent "An Open letter to a Courageous Young Woman," addressed to the victim, to BuzzFeed News Thursday, thanking her for a message that will undoubtedly "save lives" in the future.
"If everyone who shared your letter on social media, or who had a private conversation in their own homes with their daughters and sons, draws upon the passion, the outrage, and the commitment they feel right now the next time there is a choice between intervening and walking away — then I believe you will have helped to change the world for the better," Biden wrote.
The victim's letter to her assaulter was read more than 5 million times in two days on BuzzFeed's site and has since been widely circulated on social media. The assailant, Brock Turner, was sentenced to six months in jail last Thursday for sexually assaulting an unconscious woman, among other charges — a ruling that many see as far too lenient and that has sparked nationwide outrage.
As Vox's Emily Crockett wrote, the victim clearly and beautifully dispelled the bad assumptions about sexual assault, pointing out how alcohol and drinking culture are often used as scapegoats and victims' actions questioned.
"I join your global chorus of supporters, because we can never say enough to survivors: I believe you. It is not your fault. What you endured is never, never, never, NEVER a woman’s fault," Biden wrote, continuing to speak to the power of speaking out, if anything to encourage more people to be "responsible bystanders":
I am in awe of your courage for speaking out—for so clearly naming the wrongs that were done to you and so passionately asserting your equal claim to human dignity... I do not know your name—but I know that a lot of people failed you that terrible January night and in the months that followed...
I do not know your name—but thanks to you, I know that heroes ride bicycles.
Those two men who saw what was happening to you—who took it upon themselves to step in—they did what they instinctually knew to be right.
They did not say "It’s none of my business."
They did not worry about the social or safety implications of intervening, or about what their peers might think.
Those two men epitomize what it means to be a responsible bystander.
Read the full letter at BuzzFeed.