Chanel Miller: Know Her Name

The media called her the “unconscious intoxicated woman.” In court, she was called Emily Doe. Today, you can call her Chanel Miller. 

She is an artist and writer who attended the University of California, Santa Barbara where she received her BA in Literature from the College of Creative Studies. 

Four years ago, Brock Turner assaulted Miller after a fraternity party at Stanford University. Two men on bicyclists witnessed the assault and rescued Miller, chasing after a fleeing Turner and holding him until police arrived. 

Turner was tried and convicted of three cases of sexual assault: sexual assault of an unconscious person, sexual assault of an intoxicated person and sexual assault with intent to commit rape.

He could have been sentenced to years in federal prison. Instead, he got six months. In county jail. He served only three. 

Related: What Are We Doing To Punish Sex Offenders In America? 

He took from Miller her dignity, privacy, and her voice. But now, she is changing that narrative. 

On September 22nd, Miller will appear on CBS’s 60 Minutes for an interview with Bill Whitaker. This will be the first time Miller publicly tells her powerful story of survivorship. And, just two days after the interview, her newly written memoir, appropriately titled “Know My Name” will be released in stores. 

The New York Times reported that the cover art for “Know My Name” is inspired by kintsugi or “golden repair,” which is a Japanese art form in which pieces of broken pottery are mended with lacquer and powdered gold. This art form emphasizes that what is broken can be recreated into something beautiful, an apt analogy to Miller’s own recovery. 

Via Penguin Random House 

America first heard from Chanel Miller, then known only as Emily Doe, in her moving victim impact statement

Directed for the most part at Turner, Miller’s statement was read in court and shared millions of times online, all 7,244 words of it. The statement was also read aloud by 18 members of Congress on the House floor. 

Miller’s harrowing account of the impact of her sexual assault, coming before the #MeToo movement spread, was regarded as a doctrine for sexual assault prevention and for survivors across the country. 

However, the justice system dehumanized and devalued Miller, choosing instead to elevate the importance of Turner’s reputation over her own livelihood and it continues to do the same to sexual assault victims every day. 

“His attorney constantly reminded the jury, the only one we can believe is Brock, because she doesn’t remember,” wrote Chanel. “That helplessness was traumatizing.”

Asking for it. At fault. An accuser. Lying. 

These are the words so frequently used to describe survivors of sexual assault, even in the courtroom. The language used in these court cases and the questions asked of the survivor are condescending, demeaning and humiliating. It is meant to benefit the perpetrator and hurt the most vulnerable. 

Outside of the courtroom, survivors do not face a much better outlook. Recent studies show that the media is actually perpetuating rape culture through biased reporting, making women less likely to come forward. 

This is why Miller’s revelation and memoir comes at such a crucial moment. It is not just going to change her own narrative, but the whole conversation surrounding sexual assault. 

Viking, the publisher of Miller’s book, called it “a singular journey that will change the way we talk about sexual assault forever. [Miller] will reclaim the story of her sexual assault, expose the arduous nature of the legal system, and emerge as a bold, unifying voice.”

Miller closed her 2016 victim impact statement with a message not to her attacker, but to women across the globe. 

“To girls everywhere, I am with you. Thank you.”  

Today, Chanel Miller, girls everywhere are with you. Thank you.