Her Name is Chanel Miller

For three years, the world has known her as “unconscious intoxicated woman” in the horrifying Stanford sexual assault case and now, she is ready for the world to know her name. 

Chanel Miller was sexually assaulted by Brock Turner in 2015. They had been drinking at a frat party when Turner found Miller passed out behind a dumpster and attacked her. Two men riding on bikes saw what was happening and decided to help. When they approached, Turner ran and the two men ended up tackling him to the ground. When police arrived one man was so disgusted by what he saw that he could barely speak through his tears to describe what happened.

The case went to trial in 2016, and Miller was forced to relive her nightmare in excruciating detail. In a 12-page victim impact statement that she read at Turner’s sentencing hearing, she wrote: “I was pummeled with narrowed, pointed questions that dissected my personal life, love life, past life, family life, inane questions, accumulating trivial details to try and find an excuse for this guy who had me half naked before even bothering to ask for my name.” This is a common experience for the brave women that decide to pursue their attacker in court; they are treated not as victims of a crime, but as guilty parties within it. 

That victim statement would soon become a battle cry for sexual assault survivors across the nation. For the majority of the statement, she speaks to Turner directly, questioning his motives and poking at the differences in his first account of the incident, versus his story at the final trial. When she concludes, however, she opens her statement to other survivors:

“And finally, to girls everywhere, I am with you. On nights when you feel alone, I am with you. When people doubt you or dismiss you, I am with you. I fought everyday for you. So never stop fighting, I believe you.”

Anonymous at the time, Miller allowed Buzzfeed to print her full statement shortly after Turner’s sentencing and it was read by 11 million people in only four days. What could have been a 14-year prison sentence was whittled down to 6 months and probation. The judge was worried that Turner would be ‘severely impacted’ by jail time and that his swimming career was just too valuable. I remember when Turner’s sentence hit the news, I felt hopeless. Once again, it was being proven to girls everywhere that a man’s reputation and career is more important than a woman’s life. The sentencing lit a fire in Miller as well, because when she presented her impact statement to Buzzfeed, she also said:

“Even if the sentence is light, hopefully this will wake people up. I want the judge to know that he ignited a tiny fire. If anything, this is a reason for all of us to speak even louder.”

Chanel Miller has grown from her experiences and is using her newfound platform for serious change. After years of anonymity, Miller has decided that it is time to come forward as herself in her memoir, called Know My Name, set to release on the 24th of this month. The book “illuminates a culture built to protect perpetrators and a criminal justice system designed to fail the most vulnerable,” wrote Viking Books Editor-in-Chief, Andrea Schultz. Miller will also be discussing her experiences in a 60 Minutes interview that airs September 22. 

We owe it to Chanel Miller to know her name and hear her story, because she is one of millions of survivors who need to feel our support in order to grow. I’d like to leave you with one last portion of her victim statement that I believe we should all carry with us: 

“As the author Anne Lamott once wrote, ‘Lighthouses don’t go running all over an island looking for boats to save; they just stand there shining.’ Although I can’t save every boat, I hope that by speaking today, you absorbed a small amount of light, a small knowing that you can’t be silenced, a small satisfaction that justice was served, a small assurance that we are getting somewhere, and a big, big knowing that you are important, unquestionably, you are untouchable, you are beautiful, you are to be valued, respected, undeniably, every minute of every day, you are powerful and nobody can take that away from you. To girls everywhere, I am with you. Thank you.”