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.”
‘Nobody wants to be defined by the worst thing that’s happened to them.’ — Chanel Miller opens up about her short film ‘I Am With You’ and how art helped her heal pic.twitter.com/ncAsWkf5vf
— NowThis (@nowthisnews) September 28, 2019
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.
Image courtesy of Penguin/Random House
Trigger Warning: This article contains references to sexual assault.
I remember exactly where I was when I read her statements against Brock Turner, and maybe you do too. Buzzfeed had published a letter from an anonymous victim referred to as Emily Doe, which she had written and read aloud to her assailant in court. I sat at my kitchen counter and watched her powerful words blur out of focus as hot tears ran down my face. I remember feeling a rage rumble in my stomach. It was familiar, yet new. I had felt fury over the injustice sexual assault survivors endure many times before, but this felt like a tipping point. This woman’s bravery to speak up for herself and directly to her assailant felt like a call to action. As I read it, the silence I knew my friends, myself, and countless others lived with rang in my ears. It was time for change.
Now, the woman who wrote these words has named herself. Chanel Miller has come forward as the woman who was assaulted by Brock Turner, and she is writing a book about her experience. The memoir, entitled Know My Name, will detail Miller’s life since the assault and trial that occurred in 2016.
For years, Chanel Miller was known only as "Emily Doe," the anonymous woman who brought a sexual assault case against Brock Turner. In an upcoming memoir, she'll tell her story under her own name.https://t.co/pr7CrXVGHE
— The New York Times (@nytimes) September 4, 2019
Chanel Miller’s assault ignited a conversation about sexual violence and how it is treated in both our society and the criminal justice system. People were outraged by the outcome of the trial, as Brock Turner received six months in county jail, of which he served three, despite the fact that he was found guilty on three counts of felony sexual assault. There were also two eyewitnesses in the case. It was obvious that this scum-sucking trash sack was guilty, and yet there was barely — and I mean barely — any justice to be served.
She has been known to the world as “Emily Doe,” the sexual assault victim of Stanford swimmer Brock Turner. Now she’s revealing her name and face. Chanel Miller, here reading her victim impact statement, gives her first interview to "60 Minutes" https://t.co/U4GDOofVj6 pic.twitter.com/cpVMwCZ4Sk
— 60 Minutes (@60Minutes) September 4, 2019
As one can imagine, the trial, along with its publicity, was grueling for Chanel Miller. Her letter made that apparent, and now we will get an entire book to hear her side of the story. Excuse me while I pre-order on Amazon, and purchase approx. 5 million tissues, as I will be sobbing uncontrollably while reading.
Chanel Miller’s letter was beautifully written, so we can only imagine that her book will be incredible. The editor of the book, Andrea Schultz, told The New York Times, “I jumped out of my chair to acquire it, because it was just obvious to me from the beginning what she had to say and how different it was and how extraordinarily well she was going to say it. She had the brain and the voice of a writer from the very beginning, even in that situation.”
According to the New York Times piece, the writing process for Know My Name was a way for Miller to piece together what happened to her the night of the assault. Miller read pages of court documents and transcripts of witness testimonies she had not been allowed to hear during the trial, and had weekly calls with Schultz to discuss what she was discovering.
The cover art for “Know My Name” is inspired by the Japanese art of kintsugi or “golden repair,” in which broken pottery pieces are restructured using lacquer and powdered gold. In this sense, it creates something beautiful from something that has been broken, emphasizing where it has cracked. The visual is meant to represent Chanel Miller’s process of healing and recovery from both the assault and the trial. Brb while I go drown in my own tears.
Know My Name will be released on September 24.
Photo courtesy of Penguin Random House