Over the weekend, I read Know My Name: A Memoir by Chanel Miller for one of my book clubs.
It is probably one of the most powerful books I’ve ever read.
Chanel was originally known to us as Emily Doe, the 2015 sexual assault victim of Brock Turner.
What I found most powerful was Chanel’s ability to describe her feelings and thoughts. She eloquently took us along with her on the day of the assault and waking up in the hospital. I felt I was with her as she moved through her days working with the police and district attorney.
Most importantly, Chanel took us with her in her suffering.
How she felt about her body, her fears about how others would view her and her ability to survive. I felt I stood by her side as she decided to fight – not only her rapist, but the system of entitlement, oppression and justice.
While her case received a lot of media attention because it happened on the Stanford University campus, the media and court perpetuated the rape culture full of victim blaming and shaming. (BTW, Stanford University, SHAME ON YOU for backing out of your agreements with Chanel. For your inability to put safety and healing first.) Chanel put it so eloquently when she stated,
Rape is not a consequence of drinking.
Yes!!! I had never heard it put so beautifully.
Eighteen month after the sexual assault, Chanel’s wrote and read her victim impact statement at the sentencing trial. Her D.A. immediately recognized how power of her statement and received permission connected Chanel to Katie J.M. Baker, a BuzzFeed author. Baker chose to publish the statement in its entirety, and without edits, on BuzzFeed on June 3, 2016. https://www.buzzfeednews.com/article/katiejmbaker/heres-the-powerful-letter-the-stanford-victim-read-to-her-ra
Within minutes, thousands of people around the world read, loved and commented on Chanel’s statement. By the end of the first day, the numbers reached into the millions.
Chanel’s voice became the voice for victims.
She gave words to many of their experiences.
- Their experiences as they struggled to process what happened to them.
- Their experiences trying to make sense of their feelings.
- Their experiences with coming to terms with their bodies and how they view themselves.
- Their experiences with the legal and judicial system.
Chanel, your story of suffering, self-advocacy and healing is truly inspiring!