Know Their Name: Chanel Miller

Trigger Warning: Sexual Assault 

In 2015, you may remember the sexual assault case regarding Brock Turner the “outstanding Stanford University swimmer,” and you know his face. And the girl, do you remember? Do you remember any verbs to describe other than ‘victim’? Do you remember? What you are less likely to remember is her background in art, the way that writing runs in her family, her loving sister, the way she read all the comments on the news coverage of her assault, her rage, her desire, her potential.  

After 4 years, Chanel Miller, formerly known to the public as Emily Doe, speaks her truth and voice, that was once taken from her. “Know My Name” is the title of her recently published memoir. According to her, the title of the book represents a “declarative self-affirmation.” A reclaim of her humanity.   

Her attacker Brock Turner was convicted of assault with intent to commit rape of an intoxicated/unconscious person, penetration of an intoxicated person and penetration of an unconscious person. He faced up to 14 years in prison but was sentenced to six months in county jail. He served just three for “good behavior”. The sentencing shocked Chanel, in her book she writes, “I didn’t know that money could make the cell doors swing open. I didn’t know that if a woman was drunk when the violence occurred, she wouldn’t be taken seriously. I didn’t know that if he was drunk when the violence occurred, people would offer him sympathy...I didn’t know that being a victim was synonymous with not being believed” (23). 

Not only does this highlight her story, but millions of others who in some way relate. Those who have been traumatized and survived. In an interview with InStyle Magazine, Chanel discusses that “we’re taught to tuck these stories away. That they’re too intense for people to handle, and that we play a role in our own harm or that we deserve harm, which is never true. I think we let so many of these damaging ideas manifest and don’t take the time to look at them in the ways they are hurting us. The things I read online about myself throughout this process were terrible but that I began to believe these things about myself and what I deserved was worse. That to me is the saddest. To think you shouldn’t be treated nicely or you don’t deserve to be doing things you enjoy, all that chips away at you. I’m just so tired of how much hurt we’re expected to tolerate. I’m done doing that work. I hope that survivors know you don’t only deserve to survive and have a support system around you. But you also deserve to have a life beyond what happened. I’m going to get back to my life, and I want to help restore victims back to their own lives.”  

It’s important to acknowledge her name, her truth, and her as a person. I think sometimes we forget that the news we see is reality. We begin to read it, hear about it, and move on.  But that is not life.