How does it feel to be the focus of an extensively publicized rape trial and, simultaneously, have nobody know who you truly are?
When Chanel Miller challenged the man who sexually assaulted her, she found out how extremely disempowering it was to lose her actual name. During the lengthy court fight against a college student named Brock Turner, she was called “Emily Doe,” “the victim,” or worse, “Brock Turner’s victim,” as if in some way belonged to her rapist.
Rather than being considered as her own self, she had to stand silently by while the press and defense lawyers chose how to describe her.
In Know My Name, Chanel Miller recovers her actual name, personhood, and story. In the next chapters, you will have a personal insight into the life of a tough woman and artist who survived an awful assault and was determined to look for a means to heal. By doing that, she explained other women’s experiences of sexual assault and the method that the US court system disappoints them.
Chapter 1 – Chanel Miller discovered the information her sexual assault through a news report –more than a week after it had occurred.
On the 17th of January 2015, Chanel Miller, as well as her younger sister named Tiffany, attended a fraternity party on Stanford University campus. Chanel wasn’t into going to a wild student party – she’d already finished from school and wanted to focus on her career creating educational apps for an NGO. However, she actually wanted to spend time with her sister, who was spending time with her for the weekend; therefore she decided to follow.
When they got to the party, there was loud music, a lot of drinking, and the normal group of boisterous students. Chanel danced and she had some vodka. At a point, she and her sister went outside to make use of the restroom. That’s was the final thing she recollects.
The following morning, Chanel woke up in a weird room, with a police officer sitting beside her. She was scared that maybe she had passed out in one of the campus buildings and been followed to that room to sober up.
However, some things didn’t tally. She was putting on the drawstring pants she didn’t know. And when she went to the restroom, she was surprised to discover that she wasn’t putting on the underwear she’d left home with also. Her hair had a lot of dirt, twigs, and leaves and her body had a lot of bruises and abrasions.
The police were weirdly indirect when Chanel questioned them what had occurred. They said to her that two students had cycled past a man who was doing something to her that “seemed wrong” while she was passed out. One police officer said to her that the students were really troubled by what they had witnessed that they’d cried numerous times in the interview room. Something severe had occurred. However, what was it?
When Tiffany came to take her, she was troubled. She told her that she went to visit a sick friend and unexpectedly couldn’t see Chanel anywhere. She’d used the whole night looking for her but was futile.
Ten days after, while Chanel was drinking coffee at her desk in her workplace. Suddenly, she got a text from her sister, telling her that there were stories about her assault in the news. She went online and found the article that eventually exposed to her the information that no one else had: a Stanford student had been accused of raping and assaulting her. On her computer screen, she finally saw the face of her rapist’s face for the first time.
Chapter 2 – When the article about her rape circulated, it seemed like readers blamed Chanel for her own assault.
From the news article, Chanel got to know that she’d been seen half-naked and passed out by a dumpster behind the fraternity where the party had occurred. While she was still unconscious, a Stanford student named Brock Turner had sexually assaulted her. Two Swedish students who were cycling by saw him doing that. Turner attempted to run away; however, the students ran after him and fought him to the ground. A passerby informed the police, who then arrested Turner.
When Chanel read the article, Chanel thought that any other reader would be as perplexed as she was. How could someone rape an unconscious woman? How did this man misplace his entire sense of morality?
However, as she read the comments written under the article, Chanel was surprised to find out that the majority of them were more critical of her than of Turner. Readers asked why she went to the party initially since she wasn’t a student. Why she let herself get really drunk that she passed out?
Just a few of the comments were kind and supportive, sending love and accusing Turner. However, the overwhelming flow was negative, and they continued as more and more articles about the event came out.
Chanel was aware that it was unhelpful to read the comments; however, she couldn’t bring herself to stop. And she couldn’t help than to take the negative comments to heart, even starting to ask her own viewpoint on what had occurred.
Also, it wasn’t helpful that the journalists as well depicted Brock Turner in weirdly positive terms, providing that they were writing on someone accused of rape and sexual assault.
Articles stated that Turner was a member of the swim team and had partaken in the London Olympics of 2012. People who recognized him mentioned that what a disaster it was that he had been arrested and offered good character references.
In a lot of ways, Turner was given a much more humane representation than Chanel, who was just mentioned as “the victim,” with the press stressing precisely what she had had to drink and providing graphic images of her naked, unconscious body.
It was just after that Chanel came to understand that this was part of a bigger way of how female victims of sexual assault are seen.
Chapter 3 – Since just a few people were aware that she was the victim, Chanel started living an isolating double life.
In the instant repercussion of Chanel’s rape, her sister was the single person who was aware of what had occurred. Chanel couldn’t even tell her parents or boyfriend what had happened.
When she and her sister were still young, her parents had continuously attempted to keep them from disturbing information. One time, two weeks before Christmas, their family cat named Dream was lost. Chanel and her sister looked for him late into the night, using their flashlights on the fields close to their house in Palo Alto; however, couldn’t see him anywhere.
After Christmas, her parents said to them that Dream was killed by a car a few weeks before and they had cremated him already.
Then, it was weird to Chanel that her parents had let her and her sister look for a cat that they knew was dead. However, she also realized that they intended to protect her.
Now, years after, she had the exact instinct toward them. She couldn’t stand to rip their peaceful lives with the information that she had been raped.
The day following her assault, police had questioned if she wanted to press charges against Brock Turner, and Chanel had accepted. When her sister went to take her from the clinic where she’d finished the physical examination for her “rape kit” to collect evidence of her sexual assault, she made her sister promise her not to inform their parents.
In court, she would be called “Emily Doe” to keep her anonymity. That signified that no one was aware that she was the victim mentioned in the entire news stories.
Initially, Chanel was resolute to keep herself from “Emily” the victim and keep the secret. However, ten days after fighting in silence, she understood that she had to inform the people closest to her. Therefore, Chanel eventually sat her parents down and told them the news. Also, she told her boyfriend when he visited a few weeks later. Although it was so painful to inform them, Chanel eventually got comfort in having the support of her family.
But, no one else in her life was aware. She attempted really hard to maintain an appearance of normalcy; however, it became harder and harder to keep up the pretense. Her eyes were swollen after nights of crying. She experienced panic any time the phone rang and was missing work to go to court appointments.
Finally, she said to her boss that she had to quit so that she could concentrate on the trial. She wasn’t aware that it would take three years and eight months until the case was finally concluded– years when she as well as her family would live in a confusing limbo.
Chapter 4 – Looking for justice in court was a distressing process that made Chanel feel defiled all over again.
Rape cases are extremely difficult to try because of the absence of evidence, which is the reason why the majority of them don’t even get to court. Chanel’s case had more proof than most since trustworthy eyewitnesses had seen Brock Turner doing it and succeeded to catch him when he attempted to run away. Chanel was treated by skilled nurses in gathering her rape kit and worked with a brilliant team of detectives. Also, she was represented in court by a well-known assistant district attorney, Alaleh Kianerci.
However, despite having a strong case and a great legal team, the trail was traumatic and tiring for Chanel.
Her entire life was centered on court dates, which continued getting postponed since the defense attorneys were unavailable. She felt guilty for the influence that the postponements had on her sister Tiffany, who was also a witness. Tiffany would take a break from university just to have the court date canceled, sometimes as late as the night before.
Each time Chanel got ready for trial, she was taken back into the painful information of what occurred on the night of her rape. All the things she said were changed by Brock Turner’s legal team to make her look like an untrustworthy witness.
Turner’s lawyer questioned her very precise, apparently irrelevant questions intended to confuse her like if her father had cooked rice or quinoa for dinner on the night she was raped. Also, he put words into Chanel’s mouth, which she was enforced to deny, like telling her that Chanel hadn’t seen any bruises on her body when she woke up in the clinic.
Although Brock Turner’s drinking was framed by his lawyer as part of the norm of campus life, Chanel was made to seem like a reckless party animal. She was questioned over and over again on the quantity she drank and how regularly she had blacked out in the past.
Turner’s family even spent $10,000 getting a doctor who was allegedly a specialist in blackouts, who attested that even in Chanel’s state of drunkenness, she would still have been able to give her consent.
Encountering this attack by Brock Turner’s legal team was a painful and traumatizing process. However, when the 12-person jury gave their decision on the 30th of March 2016, Chanel was eventually justified. The defense hadn’t accomplished to shake her reliability. The entire 12 people on the jury gave a common guilty decision on all three charges of felony sexual assault.
Chapter 5 – Justice was given by the jury; however, Chanel was disappointed by the judge who punished Brock Turner.
Winning the trial was a great win for Chanel and her legal team. But, Brock Turner would still have to be sentenced by Judge Aaron Persky, who controlled over the case.
Prosecutors suggested that Turner should be imprisoned for six years based on the seriousness of the assault, with the fact that Chanel was unconscious, and since he had attempted to escape.
A probation officer requested Chanel to question her on what she wants with regard to Turner’s sentence. Chanel was clear that she didn’t want Brock to “rot in prison” his entire life and that she found rehabilitation really essential.
The probation officer told her that she understood. However, when Chanel read her report, once again, she discovered that her words had been changed and misinterpreted. The probation officer deceptively asserted that Chanel wasn’t bothered if Turner spent time in prison and that she only wished him to get better. She suggested that as a result of Turner’s age and without any criminal history, he should get a sensible county jail sentence.
Once more, Chanel’s voice had been surpassed by the voice of somebody in authority. However, during the sentencing itself, she would eventually have an opportunity to explain what had occurred in her own words.
She had a chance to read a “victim impact statement” in court, specifying the huge effect that the rape had had on her life and on the lives of the people that surrounds her. In it, Chanel spoke to Brock Turner straight and described how she had panic attacks; how painful it was to reveal the news to her parents; how the continuing trial made her leave her job and put her life on hold. At the end of her statement, a lot of people in the courtroom were crying.
However, in his sentencing, Judge Persky appeared to spread more sympathy to Turner than to Chanel, signifying that he as well had suffered from the media scrutiny, and that time in prison would be really destructive to his future.
Judge Persky sentenced Turner to only six months in county jail, with three years of probation. Also, his name permanently got into the sexual offenders’ registry. Eventually, Brock Turner only did three months. On the 2nd of September 2016, he was free.
Chapter 6 – When Chanel’s victim impact statement got viral, she understood the amount of public support she had.
Chanel had transferred a whole lot into writing the victim impact statement. It was extremely demoralizing for her that it was futile in court. However, she couldn’t have anticipated the influence her statement would have outside the courtroom.
A person she knew had a connection at Buzzfeed who requested if she could release Chanel’s complete victim impact statement. Chanel was hesitant that it would be read by anybody; however, she accepted.
Her impact statement was released at 4 p.m. on the afternoon of 3rd of June 2016. Within a period of a few hours, one million people had read her statement. It was shared numerous times on social media, with a lot of people taking the time to write emails and comments of confirmation.
Chanel was totally surprised. Eventually, rather than reducing her experience or blaming her for her own rape, people were reading about her story and displaying that they actually understood what had occurred.
A week after, her statement had been seen more than 15 million times.
It was republished in newspapers such as The Guardian and the New York Times and was read in its completeness on CNN. Politicians soon reacted as well. New York mayor Bill de Blasio held a reading, and California congresswoman Jackie Speier directed reading on the House floor. Also, Vice President Joe Biden read the statement and wrote Chanel a personal letter praising her courage.
This outburst of support mobilized a totally different public than Chanel had met in the horrible and demeaning comments beneath the news articles about her assault. She was quick to know that public support didn’t just stop in warm comments.
An activist against campus sexual assault, Michele Dauber a law professor at Stanford, formed a campaign to recall Judge Persky from the stand as a result of his kind sentencing for Chanel’s case. Persky was a public servant; therefore, this meant that he could be voted out of his position – though it’s really rare for a judge to be recalled in this manner. To even get the amount on the ballot, Dauber and the entire volunteers she had organized would have to collect a minimum of 90,000 signatures.
With a lot of grit, they succeeded to gather more than 95,000 signatures to get the motion onto the ballot. Eventually, 61.51 percent of Santa Clara voters voted to recall Judge Persky. Chanel felt that lastly, justice had been given.
Chapter 7 – The assault had lasting psychological effects in which Chanel still battles with
Chanel’s victim statement was so strong and full of conviction. However, in real life, she didn’t constantly feel as bold and courageous. In her daily life, she was still facing the shock of the rape and the trial.
She suffered from waves of grief, torment, and panic, which left her totally weakened. She was frequently sleep-deprived since she was scared of not being able to defend herself and fight off an attacker in her sleep.
Also, she became separated from her own body and couldn’t discover pleasure in sex anymore. Even normal medical procedures such as having a pap smear initiated panic and traumatic memories.
Chanel can recollect a time when she felt really different. During her college years, when she played naked on the beach with friends as they skinny-dipped, adoring the feeling of the sea on her skin.
Currently, she isn’t certain if she’ll ever again experience such kind of carelessness and lack of self-consciousness. Presently, she is hyper-vigilant. Anytime she goes to a party, she is alert– specifically when there is alcohol. She feels panicked if she can’t get in touch with a friend to know if they’ve gotten home safely. And she can’t stop seeing her entire actions as if they are being cut up in a court case that mandates her to remember precisely what she has drunk, whom she has spoken with, and what she had for dinner.
Also, the assault has transformed Chanel’s relationship to the place where she was brought up. She grew up in Palo Alto, just a seven-minute drive from the Stanford University campus. The grounds of the university were formerly a sanctuary for her, where she would play with her friends or go for extra-curricular classes. Currently, the campus is a cause for panic and painful memories.
It isn’t helpful that the university management has been more worried about keeping their own status than providing support to Chanel and other survivors. Until now, they have resisted all efforts to make structural alterations to their policies to avert sexual assaults on campus and help rape survivors. This has put sourness in Chanel’s mouth and has made her think that her securities, as well as those of potential victims, aren’t taken really well.
Therefore, the rape and the following trial didn’t just basically change Chanel’s relationship to her body; they also changed her relationship to the world she believed she knew.
Chapter 8 – Recovering from the assault is a continuous process.
Victims of sexual assault are regularly required to present their stories as direct journeys from suffering to healing; however, actual recovery doesn’t function like that. Chanel’s recovery remains to be a slow and hard process. Fortunately, she discovered numerous essential sources of support.
Maybe, one of the most essential sources in her healing was the love of her family and that of her boyfriend, Lucas. Her parents, as well as her sister, were steadily kind and supportive, making a nest for her to retreat to anytime she felt exhausted from stress and trauma.
Lucas assisted her to form a new life in Philadelphia. He showed to her that his support was unconditional and assisted to divert her by taking her on holiday to Indonesia, proving to her that she had a life far from the ugly realities of the trial.
Aside from the support of her loved ones, Chanel also got excessive support by getting in contact with her powers as an artist.
After leaving her job, Chanel understood she had to leave Palo Alto while waiting for the trial. She registered for a printmaking course at the Rhode Island School of Design over the summer. It was a deeply lonely and confusing time. But, Chanel made herself learn the new art form. At the end of the course, she had made an amazing range of prints that got praise from her teacher and classmates. Seeing what she’d created even in the most trying of situations offered Chanel a sense of her own strength and talent.
While she was living in Philadelphia with Lucas, Chanel discovered another support in the form of stand-up comedy. A friend of Lucas’s had established a comedy club on campus, and Chanel auditioned and she got into the show. She found that she had a gift for changing her daily into funny material.
In a lot of areas of her life, her voice was restricted and silenced; however, on stage, she was able to release a bawdy, irreverent version of herself. She found that her jokes “landed” and people considered her hysterically funny. Tapping to her comedy personality offered her a rare hint of who she was at a time when she felt really invisible.
Being supported by her family and holding firmly to the things that supported her enabled Chanel to endure and keep healing
Chapter 9 – Chanel began to consider her battle as political instead of personal.
Chanel had felt severely isolated as a sexual assault survivor fighting in court. However, when activist groups like RISE, an association for victims of sexual assault, began getting in touch with her, Chanel began viewing herself as part of a movement of other survivors.
She understood that how she was handled by the defense and press was not uncommon. Blaming victims of sexual violence for their own assault is one of a severely rooted routine in our society.
For example, no one questions the victim of a car hijacking or a home attack the reason why they didn’t fight back against their invaders. But rape victims are asked this question every time: “Why didn’t you scream or fight the person back?”
Rape victims, particularly, are assigned with the duty of not getting raped. But, the deed of sexual offenders is normalized. Even President Trump’s on-tape acceptance that he actually wanted to “hold a woman by the pussy” wasn’t sufficient to ruin his election campaign. He was able to let go as “locker room talk,” claiming that this is what men say.
As soon as Chanel understood how prevalent her experience was, she could take relief in the courage of other survivors, like the gymnasts who testified against serial abuser Dr. Larry Nassar, or of Christine Blasey Ford, who boldly stood her ground and testified against Brett Kavanaugh under the strong media scrutiny that Chanel understood a lot.
With her victim impact statement, Chanel turned out to be an influential voice of the movement. One 16-year-old girl wrote to Chanel just to tell her that after she read her statement, she was able to leave her bed for the first time in two years.
Up till that point, Chanel had badly desired that the assault had never occurred. Knowing how her statement had influenced the teenage girl eventually let her embrace the reality that she was raped and to understand how much of an influence she could have by writing her experiences.
By using her own voice and supporting other survivors and activists, Chanel keeps striving for the rights of sexual assault survivors and campaigns against a court system that steadily disappoints them. Her incident has already had extensive political repercussions. In response to the slight punishment Turner got, changes were done to California law. They now have a required minimum sentence for the sexual assault of an unconscious person, and the meaning of rape has been expanded.
Know My Name by Chanel Miller Book Review
In the repercussion of her rape, Chanel Miller has directed a remarkable fight for justice. Owing to the prominent nature of the university where the assault happened and the advantaged background of Brock Turner, her situation got a disproportionate amount of media attention. However, the sexual assault and following victim-blaming that Chanel faced shares a lot of commonalities with the stories of numerous other women in the US court system. This is the reason why Chanel has decided to become part of the ranks of other activists and use her voice to battle for the rights of sexual assault survivors in a broken, patriarchal system.
Change the way you talk about women and sex.
Support to change rape culture by changing how you talk. Chanel’s story demonstrates that rape culture is common in our society, and it begins with sexist “locker room” talk. If you are male-identified, be careful with the words you make use of and call your friends and colleagues when they make sexist jokes or talk about women in offensive language. Change begins in your own home, office – or locker room.