On January 18, 2015, Chanel Miller was sexually assaulted on Stanford University’s campus by a man whose name has now become synonymous with sexual abuse: Brock Turner. For the three years that followed, Miller was an unnamed survivor, dubbed Emily Doe for the purposes of the investigation. Though Turner was convicted of sexual assault, he was only sentenced to six months in jail, three years of probation and lifelong sex offender status.
Now, nearly five full years after her assault, Chanel Miller has come forward, telling the world to “Know My Name.”
“Know My Name,” which came out September 24, is Miller’s first published book after graduating from the University of California, Santa Barbra with a degree in literature. In it, she retells the story of her assault and the subsequent case, as well as her reaction to the enormous outpouring of media attention and public support following the publication of her anonymous statement to BuzzFeed following Turner’s sentencing.
When Miller’s statement was released to BuzzFeed in June 2016, it took me by surprise. As a survivor myself, it is never easy to read the details about someone else’s attack without being reminded about my own experiences. Though she has remained nameless up until this point, her bravery and resilience has changed the world.
It has certainly changed my life. I used to keep a small piece of paper with a quote from her statement inside my wallet – “You are powerful and nobody can take that away from you” – to remind me that my assault is not my entire story, just as this case is not Chanel Miller’s entire story.
In the years since the Stanford sexual assault case, the world has exploded in terms of awareness and activism against sexual abuse in all forms. From several other high-profile campus rape cases, to the #MeToo movement erupting across Hollywood, to Dr. Christine Blasey Ford’s testimony to the Senate Judiciary Committee’s confirmation hearings of Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh, the country has seen a whirlwind of support for sexual abuse survivors.
Millions of women in both the United States and abroad have voiced their support and shared their stories alongside these high-profile women. In an excerpt from Miller’s book describing the response from the public following her statement, she expresses that “Almost every message I received opened with someone telling me the location of where they were crying. They were enraged and then devastated, and then they said thank you, said everyone must read it. It was a reaction too complex to categorize, but it sounded like, by the end of reading, they’d emerged in a clearer space.”
By telling her story, Miller has helped open the door for many sexual assault survivors to tell their stories as well.
Chanel Miller’s words and experiences have resonated with women all across the world, and particularly with those who have been abused on college campuses. Her book tells us the truth.
If you or someone you know has been a victim of sexual assault, please contact the National Sexual Assault Hotline at 1-800-656-4673 or the WOAR Philadelphia Center Against Sexual Violence at 215-985-3333.