Four years after the Brock Turner case, Chanel Miller — who, until recently, was known to all of us as Emily Doe — is ready for you to remember the case as hers, not his.
“I remember thinking, after reading the news about him, that I wished I had more extracurriculars,” she told the New York Times earlier this month, referring to the qualities that endeared Turner to the judge presiding over Miller’s case. “The fact that I had no headline, it was just so clear to me that I was nobody.” Part of this process of reclamation involved writing her own story, her own truth in a memoir that hits shelves today, titled simply but powerfully, “Know My Name.”
The Times explained that the cover art features the signature design of a style of Japanese ceramic art that fuses broken pottery back together with golden grout; rather than trying to disguise the broken quality of the piece, this style of art emphasizes it and makes it beautiful. She found strength to name herself, to tell her own story, in the strength of other survivors of sexual assault who have had the courage to come forward during the #MeToo era. “Before, I wanted the assault to not be a part of my life, and that was the goal,” she said. “Now it’s accepting that it will always be a part of my life, and I just figure out where it lives inside my life.”
Reclaiming her narrative through memoir, and naming herself publicly — many of her colleagues, despite having read her moving victim impact statement, didn’t know that Miller was Emily Doe — was a way for her to better know her own self as well as position herself as a force for change. In a segment aired over the weekend, she sat down with “60 Minutes” in her first interview since the 2015 assault, speaking unequivocally about what it means to be a sexual assault victim, about how she had to surmount personal and societal shame to get to the point where she is now. “Rape is not a punishment for getting drunk,” she declared. “We have this really sick mindset in our culture as if you deserve rape if you drink to excess. You deserve a hangover, a really bad hangover, but you don’t deserve to have somebody insert their body parts inside of you.”
She cited the fact that she wants to write children’s books — as well as her anxiety over being unable to be a children’s book author because of how she might be perceived by the public. “I felt no parent is going to want me as a role model if I am just the discarded drunk, half-naked body behind the dumpster.”