In 2016, a rape case became headline news as it was revealed that the perpetrator Brock Turner, a Stanford student athlete, would be getting only six months in county jail and be out in three for the rape of then Emily Doe. At the sentencing of her rapist, Ms. Doe read her victim impact statement, which was then posted on Buzzfeed and garnered international attention being translated in multiple languages and resonating with women all over the world.
Now, the then anonymous survivor has decided to reveal her name, and with it a memoir about her grueling experience as she and her family went through the court proceedings after deciding to press charges against her rapist. Chanel Miller wants you to know her name, and that no matter what you are going through, you can come out the other side. She details her account of events on the night she was raped behind a dumpster and woke up in a hospital bed unaware of what had happened. It is not just a book about a survivorship, but also about how, even in the best circumstances where there is evidence and witnesses to a rape, it is still nearly impossible to get a conviction, and how the process to get one is indescribably painful and harmful to the victim and their families.
Chanel Miller’s story highlights all of the unfortunate stereotypes when it comes to a rape victim coming forward, especially given how much media coverage her story was given. She had no choice — she was thrown into the spotlight where people judged her on things completely unrelated to the fact that someone took advantage of her when she was unconscious. The way she handled the constant insults, threats and judgements from strangers who so easily condemned her for drinking too much and for “ruining” a young rising athlete’s career and future is astonishing.
Throughout her book, she recalls all of the things she went through internally after the attack, giving the reader an inside look into her brain during the traumatic months and years that followed, as she fought to rebuild her life. It is inspiring and authentic, as she does not sugar coat anything. It is raw and difficult to read. Many times I felt nauseous, and angry for her about what she had to endure in the court system and in society, as if being raped wasn’t enough hardship or trauma to begin with.
Regardless of your past, whether or not you have been a victim now survivor of sexual assault or violence, this book echoes words of encouragement and strength, but most importantly emphasizes that you are not alone. There is an entire community of people out there who have similar experiences, or were not able to get justice but are seen and heard. It should anger you, but it should also inspire you to push forward and find healing in a community that stands together against rape culture and how society treats women, especially the court system.
Chanel Miller also has an instagram account (@chanelmillerknowmyname) in which you can view an illustrated short film she made about her process of writing the book. On top of that, the link in her bio takes you to her memoir’s website, which has a list of resources for those who have been victims of sexual assault, domestic abuse, etc. as well as organizations that fight to end rape and rape culture. Please keep in mind there is triggering and graphic information in the book and you should only read it if you feel it will not put your safety in jeopardy.