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Victim Impact Statement by Jane Doe

by Jane Doe

good morning, your honor. i wanted to thank you for being here this morning. although you’re here as an impartial party, i appreciate you taking what happened to me seriously enough to be here. i have waited over three years for someone to hear me out, so just knowing that you are here to do exactly that is helping me feel a tiny bit of comfort in a moment where i am crawling out of my skin. 

i know that you do not know me at all, you only know what you have read about the worst thing that has ever happened to me. i know that like any place else, trust has to be earned here. i hope my word, in addition to all the evidence, will be enough for you to feel comfortable trusting me when i say that the girl with the glittery eyeliner who left the house on the morning of october third* has died. 

everyday doesn’t just feel like coexisting next to a memorial of her; it feels more as if although she is gone, she is still tethered to my insides, and everyday that passes i feel her shrinking and withering away into nothing. everyday, it’s looking at her clothes, and realizing she will never wear them the way she wanted to. it's listening to her favorite songs and sobbing because she’s gone. it's walking around, standing in coffee shops, eating dinner and feeling like an alien because i cannot relate to the world the way she could. all that she was supposed to be haunts me, which i guess in a way, means that my own existence and my new realities haunt me. 

when i think about her now, all i want to do is give her a hug, and remind her that her sparkle was not just in her eyeliner but in every fiber of her being. she was radiant, and i wish she was met with warmth when she left the house that morning. i know that no settlement can bring her back, but i also do know that what happened here cannot go unacknowledged or unpunished- as it has for the past three years. i hope that as this morning begins, we can just remember that she did exist, and she deserves whatever justice she can get. 

the version of me that sits in front of you also deserves justice. to say the least, it is really difficult to coexist with the decaying ghost of the life you were supposed to have, in the place you were supposed to have that life. 

for the rest of my statement, i'd like to address the defendants. i really hate that you get to see me, my face, and my body again. letting you into my inner world and my vulnerability feels like another intrusion, and honestly, just being on a zoom call with you makes me feel scared.

i want to make it clear that a victim owes her perpetrators no explanation of herself at all, but i will explain one thing to you: these are not the words of someone who is simply angry, but rather of someone who is fully heartbroken; i am so unbearably sad, and anger is only a side effect of this sadness. your actions have made me so sad that it makes me angry. i am still so fragile that i think my anger towards you keeps me alive. if i physically allowed myself to accept and feel the full extent of my sadness and all the injustice your actions have subjected me to, i am nearly positive that i would fully break. 

even if you take nothing else away from my words, you owe it not only to yourselves, but also to me, to finally accept that each one of you is here for a reason of your own doing. each of you consciously made choice after choice to violate me so intensely on october third* of 2019 and through today as we are immersed in litigation. you denied me of my personhood, exploited my vulnerability, and defendant smith,* as you stripped me of my clothes, you also stripped me of my softness. each one of you consecutively made choices to create spaces seeping with violence, and for what? so you could feel powerful over someone who couldn’t fend for herself?

maybe we can get this case resolved, but not a single one of us can truly move forward until we all accept that this happened. everyday, i struggle so hard to believe that something like this can happen to you when you least expect it, even when you think that you are safe. if i have to exist with the fact that i was abused for no reason, it is only fair that you also accept the fact that you abused me for no reason. i know that the truth of this situation is so ugly for all of us, but as disturbed as it makes you, i can promise i am more sickened by it than you could ever fathom. 

the main purpose of a victim impact statement is to sum up all of my “damages,” but i don't really know how to sum up all the things that have made me so sick about what you did to me. i've been trying to write this statement since the summer, and every draft i write doesn’t feel encompassing enough of what my life looks like now. it’s like trying to spell a word that doesn’t exist- you can try, but ultimately you can’t. so i’ve made you a list of some things i want you to know:

  1. i was supposed to graduate in may of 2022, yet the earliest i will graduate is december of 2023. 

  2. i had to come home a couple months after the assault because i was scared that i would kill myself in attempt to distract myself from what you did to me.

  3. i currently take anywhere between four to five daily prescription medications, and i barely feel relief. this was not my reality before the assault.

  4. i cannot go anywhere that requires passing through villanova* university, forest town,* or grass boulevard* because if i do, i have a literal breakdown.

  5. i have zero concrete plans for my present or future because i am too dysregulated to commit to anything.

  6. each week, i have three therapy sessions with my regular therapist plus one session with my new eating disorder nutritionist. it has been decided that this is not a high enough level of care. it is currently being assessed if i need to go into a trauma-centric residential program for sexual assault survivors and if i need to take more time off of school.

  7. i am consumed with hopelessness that makes me question if my life has any meaning whatsoever.

  8. out of the approximately 115 credits i should have earned since the assault, i have only been able to earn 45. 

  9. the assault has alienated me from everyone, and my new normal has wrecked relationships that i thought would last forever. 

  10. i cannot be sexual with anyone anymore because i have an overwhelming fear of hurting someone the way you have hurt me.

  11. drinking water to stay hydrated feels like a responsibility that is too burdensome.

  12. i  do not know what i will do when this case concludes because being a rape victim has been the only way i know how to define myself.

oh yeah, and i'm scared of everything all the time. it makes sense, since my mind is consumed with intrusive thoughts all the time. what if something bad happens? what if you die? what if there is something in your drink? what if they know someone in kappa alpha* and then they find out where you are and they come to hurt you? these thoughts send my nervous system into overdrive, and i still do not know how to regulate myself. according to my therapist, i am constantly in survival mode just trying to make it through. i hate living like this because it is exhausting and i am exhausted.

i could keep talking about how much i resent each of you for what you have done to me and how much you have disfigured my life, but i have no reason to believe that there is a point to me doing so. i know that even if you are hearing these words, you are not internalizing them because it seems that doing so would destroy you. the cowardice it takes to rape someone and subsequently cover it up is pathetic. anyone with even a touch of kindness in their hearts would not allege the things about me that you have in the aftermath of violence you have caused. it is sick to make a victim feel like she is to blame for a perpetrator’s abuse because of your own shortcomings as individuals and as a fraternity. 

i'll finish by reminding you that even if you choose to ignore everything else i said, i want to get one thing through your head: this is what i sound like when i am coherent and fully conscious. attempting to equate the cognitive state of the person who stands in front of you to that of the incoherent, incapacitated girl you raped is just ridiculous. 

thank you, your honor, for allowing me to put this all on the table this morning. the pain i carry with me is so strong that i do not know how much longer i can be expected to bear it without any acknowledgment that what happened to me was wrong. i need peace in my soul again. these three years have been too much.

*names and dates changed to protect privacy


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