Chanel Miller Takes Back Her Story
An Inspiring Tale of One Sexual Assault Victim Taking Back her Story
In 2015, Chanel Miller was sexually assaulted on the Stanford University campus by Brock Turner. Know My Name is her chance to take back her story from the media and tell what happened to her. It is the story of that night, but more importantly, it was the story of how trying to survive through the trial dismantled her entire life.
This memoir was raw and inspiring. Miller captivates her audience with the unvarnished truth of what it is like to wake up and be unsure of what happened to you. There are plenty of nights in my early twenties I don't remember all of. My friends and I used to spend Sunday mornings piecing together our memories of the nights before over brunch. The way that Miller immerses the audience into her perspective of piecing the night together is both relatable and chilling.
Once the initial shock fades, the trial is re-traumatizing. Her character, thoughts and actions are dissected by the defense and the press. While she is shielded as Emily Doe, her sister is laid bare. The trial invades into every aspect of her life slowly poisoning the life she had been building for herself. The powerful juxtaposition of the sympathy for Turner's "lost potential" and her condemnation is devastating.
“My pain was never more valuable than his potential.”
Although this is the telling of her trauma, the story remains one of hope and dignity. She stands up for not only herself but victims of sexual assault everywhere. Even if you skip over the book, I highly recommend reading her victim impact statement. Her bravery shines a light on the traumatic experience for so many who do and do not report their assaults. The hope that she brings to this dark tale is truly inspiring. It reminds me that no matter how hard it is you have to hold out through the darkness to really understand the full story.
"You have to hold out to see how your life unfolds, because it is most likely beyond what you can imagine. It is not a question of if you will survive this, but what beautiful thinks await you when you do. I had to believe her, because she was living proof. Then she said, Good and bad things come from the universe holding hands. Wait for the good to come."
The only critique I can offer (outside of a trigger warning) is that the chapters are long. The long chapters made the story feel heavy and immersive. I'm not sure that I would have picked up this story if it hadn't been chosen for DZ Chicago Alumnae book club, but I'm so glad that it was.
Overall, I really like this one. I highly recommend reading it. In fact, I've already lent my copy to a friend. Miller is an incredible storyteller. Although the story that she is telling is dark, she manages to find hope and perseverance to hold out for the good. If you enjoy this story, I highly recommend listening to Believed which is a podcast series that looks inside at how a team of women won a conviction against Larry Nassar.