Chanel Miller: ‘No One Is Allowed To Hurt You, Period. That Is The Baseline.’

By Irene Merrow | September 28, 2019
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A few weeks ago, Chanel Miller bravely named herself as the ‘Emily Doe’ in the Brock Turner case, the person whose powerful victim statement read before the court. The news came with the announcement of her memoir, Know My Name, where Miller takes back the narrative and tells her side of the events.

In case you need a refresher, Brock Turner made headlines after he was sentenced to six months in jail for three counts of felony assault. He would serve just 90 days for assaulting an unconscious woman (Miller) behind a dumpster. The judge (who has since been recalled), felt as though Turner had too much much to lose as a white man young person with impressive swimming times. The scientific term for this sentencing is “TRASH,” and many were rightfully outraged when Buzzfeed released the powerful, heartbreaking letter that “Emily Doe” read to Brock Turner in court.

And now that Miller’s book is out, she will continue to change the world and make me ugly cry into my coffee with her beautiful words. She’s spoken generously with media throughout the week, sharing details of her experience and journey towards healing. Miller is also an artist and created a stunning short film called “I Am With You.”

She also sat down for an interview on CBS to talk about her book and her experience as a survivor, and everything that she said was perfect. We pulled some powerful moments from that interview:

“I thought that if anyone ever knew that I was this body behind the dumpster, they would think that I was just dirty or irresponsible or reckless; that I wasn’t capable of handling myself and that I should just be embarrassed when really I’ve learned that I’m extremely brave for asserting myself. I feel more confident, I feel more capable, I feel like anything I encounter in the future I now have the tools to handle them.”

Miller’s vulnerability and the strength that she has found within it are so unbelievably inspiring. She’s not afraid to say how bad and dark things got, how ashamed she felt, but she is also willing to share her journey about getting back up. Her resilience is incredible and I’m not crying, you’re crying.

“We need to work on creating an environment where survivors feel comfortable feeling supported, so when they do, some sort of justice can be attained.”

Louder for the people in the back! Miller is clearly determined to take her experience and use it as a way to make change, which she has already done. She watched justice fail her, and now she wants to make sure this doesn’t happen to anyone else. She’s a GD angel.

“There’s violence everywhere, it’s not just during these parties; it’s when you’re walking down the street, it’s in the workplace, it’s in the strawberry fields…and you want me to believe that it’s the drunk victims who are bringing it on themselves?”

Miller says this when being asked about people (read: idiots) who try to say that she brought the assault upon herself by getting too drunk. Miller cuts through the bullsh*t and points out that alcohol is just an easy way to blame the victim, when the victim is clearly not the problem. Sexual violence happens everywhere, whether or not alcohol is involved. So let’s attack the problem, not the victim.

“There’s a lot of power in anger. Anger is usually discouraged. We want to tame the victim and have her be composed, but really, for me, it was wonderful. I was depressed for so long, so when I finally felt anger, it was a sign that I was stepping on my own side and ready to fight for myself.”

Ugh, yes. Victims — often women — are made to feel like anger disqualifies their experience, like if they display it they will diminish their credibility. But that’s a bunch of horsesh*t. You are allowed to feel anger, and your anger can help lift you up. It’s a powerful emotion and it doesn’t need to be suppressed for other’s comfort.

“Nobody is allowed to hurt you, period. That is the baseline, and I will not make excuses around that sentence.”

Put this on my tombstone.

You can watch clips from the interview here, here, here, and here.

Image courtesy of Penguin/Random House