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​Woman Bravely Confronts and Forgives Rapist in Court

Illustration for article titled ​Woman Bravely Confronts and Forgives Rapist in Court

Eleven years ago, Jane Piper was raped, beaten, and carjacked in broad daylight in the parking lot of a supermarket in Los Angeles. Her brutal case initially went cold, but on Tuesday, her attacker 58-year-old Gilbert Lozano Trejo was sentenced to 20 years in prison. Piper herself took the stand, and looking directly at Trejo, described the attack, how it affected her, and what she hopes for him.

Piper released a statement before Trejo's sentencing about her attack, writing:

"On Aug. 21, 2003, I was brutally beaten and raped in Brentwood. The rapist attempted to drive away holding me captive in my vehicle. But believing in my heart that he would kill me, I was able to jump out the window of the car as he sped off."

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In 2011 she had moved to Canada but shortly thereafter, she was contacted by authorities, stating that cold case detectives identified her rapist using DNA. This week, she appeared in court, directly addressing Trejo, who gave no response other than repeating that he does not remember the crime due to a brain injury.

"Before I go into detail about what your beating and raping me did to my life and did to me, I do want to thank you for taking responsibility for what you did," said Piper. "It means a lot to me that you have pleaded guilty."

"I acknowledge, Gilbert Trejo, that you did these horrible things to me," Piper added. "You intentionally made a conscious choice to do them. But I forgive you."

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Piper also implored Trejo to "do something good for the next 20 years." She made decision—which took an incredible amount of strength and patience and compassion—to speak out and confront Trejo to help encourage other women to speak out as well. And I truly it hope it helps her continue to heal.

"Women are raped every single day, and yet we so very rarely hear from them," Piper said. "I do not want to be silent."

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Image via CBSLA.

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DISCUSSION

I applaud her courage and strength. But it's important to note that she didn't have to forgive him to be a good person. Forgiveness doesn't make anyone a better person, morally, than people who don't forgive — and if you're in a position like this, you should make whatever choice is right for you and your own recovery.

We put a lot of value on forgiveness as a virtue, but that makes the whole thing about the perpetrator's feelings, not the victim/survivor's recovery. Rape survivors have no responsibility for their rapists' self-esteem — that's backwards.

I'm so glad Piper's able to do this, and not because of that sort of pressure, but out of true compassion for everyone, especially other survivors.