On Jan. 18, 2015, Brock Turner permanently changed the life of a woman who for years was known by the public as Emily Doe. Due to the fact that Doe was unconscious, the details of the assault are unclear.
However, according to Turner’s account, he met the victim outside of the fraternity house of Kappa Alpha at Stanford University, where they both attended a party. Turner claims the victim slipped on a slope and he got down on the ground to kiss her. He then asked her if she wanted him to “finger her,” which he alleges she consented to, and after doing so for a minute, Turner claims that they then started “dry humping.” Turner was caught in the act by two other Stanford students.
Doe denied that she had consented to any part of the attack and Turner was indicted ten days later on 2 counts of rape, 2 counts of penetration and 1 count of assault with intent to rape; the trial of People v. Turner began on March 14, 2016. Due to Turner’s privilege, he only served three months of his six-month prison sentence. On June 3, 2016, Doe read a condensed version of her 12-page victim impact statement where she recounted the assault and its after-effects. Her statement was both powerful and emotional. “You don’t know me, but you’ve been inside me, and that’s why we’re here today.”
These are the first words that Doe used to address her attacker. When her 7,000-word statement was released by the district attorney’s office, it was published by Buzzfeed. Within three days, the statement was viewed over four million times. On Sept. 4, 2019, Doe came forward with her name and a memoir. Chanel Miller wants her voice to be heard in “Know My Name.” Miller is an extremely strong woman to come out with this story. The shame, rage, and guilt that follow an assault are immeasurable and impossible to describe. She owes nothing to anyone but herself. However, this story, much like her victim impact statement, will affect many readers.
As a survivor who did not report her assault, I feel it’s important to look at what leads many survivors to not report their assault. According to RAINN, the nation’s largest anti-sexual violence organization, out of 1,000 sexual assaults, only 230 are reported to police, 46 lead to arrests, nine cases get referred to prosecutors, five will lead to a felony conviction and fewer than five rapists will be incarcerated. These statistics and the fear of retaliation keeps many more from reporting. Many also feel that the police cannot or will not do anything about it, even if they do report their assault.
Within the last two years, the #MeToo movement has pushed for stronger laws against sexual assault and rape. Many people feel empowered to come out with their stories of assault. One of the worst feelings associated with sexual assault is alienation. When you tell people what happened, that’s when the questions follow: “How did you allow this to happen?” “Did you say no?” “Why didn’t you fight back?” and many more. However, #MeToo has also helped to build a community of survivors and supporters.
With her memoir, Miller has not only inspired me and many others, but she has also helped to reinvigorate the #MeToo movement. #MeToo has recently seen some measurable resistance with people like Scarlett Johansson who has said she believes director Woody Allen, a man who has been accused of sexual assault for decades by multiple women, over his accusers. And famous comedian Dave Chappelle has come out as a victim-blamer in his recent Netflix stand-up special. Not only are survivors facing their attackers, but they are also supported by people who believe them. Rape culture goes much deeper than many people realize, and I believe Miller’s memoir will open people’s eyes to the importance of not only believing survivors but holding attackers accountable as well.
Please visit RAINN.org for more information on sexual assault. If you or someone you know has been sexually assaulted, please call the free and confidential National Sexual Assault Hotline at 800-656-HOPE (4673).