‘Know My Name’ author Chanel Miller gives advice to sexual assault survivors

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On Monday night, the UConn Women’s Center hosted author and artist Chanel Miller for a virtual book reading and discussion. Miller was first known as Emily Doe, the survivor of a sexual assault case at Stanford University in 2015. Miller’s assailant received a six-month sentence; after, her victim impact statement was anonymously posted on Buzzfeed and went viral within days.  

Miller remained anonymous until 2019, when she released “Know My Name,” an NYT best-selling memoir. At the event, Miller read an excerpt from the book’s afterword, which described her indecision in regards to revealing her name.  

“I promise to write 90,000 words, but I will not promise to reveal myself,” Miller said, recounting her thoughts heading into the writing process.  

While stepping out from anonymity can be empowering, Miller acknowledges the difficulties of such an act. There are more obstacles than just mustering up courage; as an example, Miller mentioned that one would have to be able to afford security cameras.  

The event then opened up to a discussion and Q&A session, moderated by UConn student Ashaureah Williams. Miller began by talking about being in the courtroom, which was flocked by lawyers and experts in their respective fields.  

“Throughout that whole time I felt like I was the least qualified person to take the stand,” she said.  

Yet, over time, Miller began to recognize the importance of her voice.  

“There were so many narratives that existed about my experience and my body, and none of the narratives were mine. It took me a long time to understand the value of the lived experience, the knowing of how it feels to inhabit your body,” Miller recounted.  

Miller channeled that into “Know My Name,” offering her perspective on the event to those willing to listen. While writing the book was no easy task, it gave her a sense of freedom.  

“On the page, I can express things very expansively. I don’t filter my rage as much as I do when I’m speaking,” Miller explained.  

Miller particularly took issue with how the media treated her. In her victim impact statement, she revealed that she discovered details about her rape through a news article. The harsh subject matter was then concluded with a recap of her assailant’s swimming times.  

As the case was unfolding, news outlets reached out to get Miller on their shows. If she declined, she was given two weeks to change her mind. Two weeks until she became irrelevant, Miller contended.  

Miller recalled a moment during the case with her sister; they had spotted a caterpillar on the windshield of their car and pulled over to place it in some grass.  

“Those moments are just as important as those in the headlines,” Miller declared.  

When asked to give advice to other sexual assault survivors, Miller encouraged them to take care of their primary needs first and foremost. When not in court, she found it important to treat herself almost as though she were a baby — making sure she had eaten, drank water and taken a shower. Little things make a big difference.  

On top of being an activist, Miller, who received a degree in literature from the University of California, Santa Barbara, is an artist. She frequently posts her work on social media and is currently working on a middle-grade novel. She is excited to be showcasing her whimsical side with something that is staunchly different from her memoir, but still true to who she is.  

1 COMMENT

  1. I am not sure anyone can make a case for Chanel Miller being sexually traumatized. Her actions at the party were highly attention seeking, and practically guaranteed to draw attention from men – very, very young men.

    Although we have no proof she left to go to the dorm room of one 19 year old at the party, we also have no reason to doubt it – and it is interesting to note, her sister did try to reach her and said she was worried because she could not – but on the other hand, the sister LEFT the party without finding her – then went home, where Chanel was NOT PRESENT – and did not call 911, or wake their parents, or do anything else indicating she thought Chanel was in trouble – to me, it looks like she assumed Chanel had gone off with someone from the party. Since the sister likely knew Chanel’s habits, (they went to schools about one hour away from each other for two or three years – Chanel at UCSB, Tiffany at Cal Poly – she may have seen Chanel do this before, and therefore was not particularly alarmed. According to Tiffany, she saw the cops at the party – could not reach Chanel by text or phone – and yet, left the party to go home. ????

    Besides the evidence Chanel had a lot of casual sex (in her own book) it is not clear to me how things which happen when you are unconscious, or you do not remember, are traumatizing – the only convincing claims Miller made were that she was upset she was viewed as a drunk who may have consented in Comments made to the Stanford Daily and San Jose Mercury News by readers – but that was an entirely reasonable point of view- so, is that SEXUAL trauma? Is being embarrassed about sex “sexual trauma”?? Does it even rise to the level of “trauma” at all? Very doubtful..

    Most of what these rather eagerly naive undergrads believe about this event is wrong. And that is largely due to self-serving misrepresentations by Miller. As a social phenomenon – peddling a false narrative, and having it gobbled up by fans – this is disturbing, as there is no critical thought on the part of the fans – it is not good that society is being manipulated in this way – because the misinformed people vote, and serve on juries – but at a university, which is supposed to be especially open to inquiry, this is far worse.

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