(Maddy Van Orman / The Signpost)

As the gavel came down in the Stanford rape case, fury ignited across the nation. The crime was heinous, the defendant and his family perpetuated the trauma with callous and unapologetic statements, and justice was nowhere to be found. Once again, rape victims watched as the perpetrator walked away with a mere slap on the wrist.

As a survivor of sexual assault, I found this case particularly unsettling. The evidence had been substantial. There were witnesses and texts. There were doctors’ exams. Everything needed to administer the appropriate punishment was in place, and yet Brock Turner, a rapist, got off easy with six months in a county jail.

For such a strong case to be met with a weak punishment is disheartening to those of us who have no witnesses, no texts and no doctors’ exams.

Justice? It does not exist for rape survivors. This is a fact I accepted a long time ago, but the Stanford case solidified that truth.

What, then, can we do to find justice when our justice system fails? If this were Gotham, Batman would be my first choice. But we must be our own superheroes.

When I was raped, my attacker took a lot from me. He stole my peace of mind, my worth, my power, my future, my happiness.

He will never see any punishment for this theft of my former self.

He will, however, see me rise from it as a stronger woman.

My justice comes when I put on my figurative super suit and take back my peace, worth, power, future and happiness.

Sexual assault changed my life course, but I will not allow it to lessen my life experience. Through his crime, I discovered how to find peace again. I took up running and completed my first 5k. Because he labeled me as an object, I have since found my true worth and learned to love myself more fully.

My power was taken, but it was replaced with superpowers of resiliency and compassion. My future will never be certain, but I now appreciate the beauty of each moment and each day.

No, justice will not be served. Our system is too flawed for that. Instead, as survivors, we will stand together and offer support for one another. We will reclaim our power and our lives. We will advocate for awareness and prevention. Because collectively, we are Batman.

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