Editor’s note: This story contains details about sexual assault that may be triggering for some readers.
Chanel Miller is ready for you to know her name.
She is the author of a new memoir called “Know My Name.” In January 2015, she was unconscious when she was assaulted by a student athlete named Brock Turner outside of a party on Stanford’s campus. Two graduate students biking by stopped the assault and held Turner down until police arrived. Turner was found guilty in 2016 of three felony counts of sexual assault, then sentenced to six months in county jail. He was ultimately released after three months. Throughout the trial and in the years since, Miller’s identity was kept private under the alias Emily Doe.
She says she was inspired by the women sharing their stories during the #MeToo movement. Back in 2016, the 7,200-word victim impact statement Miller read in court was released on BuzzFeed, and went viral. She was offered a book deal shortly after, and wrote her memoir over the next three years. She revealed her identity when her book was published in September 2019.
Miller describes the impact testifying, and reading public reactions to her story, had on her mental health. The defense’s argument focused on how much both of them had been drinking, and they claimed Miller had consented but couldn’t remember. She talks about managing feelings of shame and isolation throughout the investigation and trial, while also overcoming the trauma of the assault itself. Because of her experience, she’s become an advocate for more resources to support sexual assault victims navigating the criminal justice system.
Miller’s story ignited a nationwide debate about consent and privilege in 2016, more than a year before the #MeToo movement brought sexual assault stories center stage. Outrage over Turner’s lenient sentencing prompted the state of California to pass two laws setting new mandatory minimums for sexual assault convictions, and an expanded definition of rape. In coming forward, Miller is writing her own narrative after years of media stories that didn’t include her perspective.
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