Assault survivor Chanel Miller challenges victim narrative

Author Chanel Miller released her memoir, “Know My Name,” on Sept. 24. The book details her experiences as a survivor and artist, rather than simply ‘Emily Doe.’ Photo by Kali Hoffman, photo editor

Until Sept. 4, Chanel Miller was known by the public as ‘Emily Doe.’ She came forward with her identity to humanize victims of sexual assault.

In January 2015, ‘Emily Doe’ was sexually assaulted while unconscious by Brock Turner, a student-athlete at Stanford University. The case became widely recognized due to public outcry at what some viewed as a light sentence given to the perpetrator: a meager six months of jail time. Turner was later released after three months due to good behavior. ‘Emily Doe’ wanted to be known as more than a woman under the guise of anonymity. Her name is Chanel Miller.

“For a while, I believed that that was all I was. I had to force myself to relearn my real name, my identity. To relearn that this is not all that I am. That I am not just a drunk victim at a frat party found behind a dumpster, while you are the All­-American swimmer at a top university, innocent until proven guilty, with so much at stake,” Miller said in her statement, read directly to her attacker in the courtroom on June 2, 2016. “I am a human being who has been irreversibly hurt. My life was put on hold for over a year, waiting to figure out if I was worth something.”

The writer, artist and assault survivor revealed her identity Sept. 4, over four years after the assault. Miller released her memoir, “Know My Name,” on Sept. 24.

“That’s very inspiring for other victims to see; it’s very telling of how women are strong,” said Victoria Mas, a member of Chapman Feminists and a sophomore political science major. “This is a very large step not only for her, but for anybody who takes this case and it’s very personal to them.”

According to DeAnn Yocum Gaffney, Chapman’s Associate Vice President of Student Affairs and lead Title IX Coordinator, sexual violence is something that occurs primarily within the 16 to 24 age group, but not necessarily because of college campus proximity.

“Research shows it happens with very similar levels of frequency for students who don’t go to college,” Yocum Gaffney said. “It certainly does happen on college campuses and there are dynamics within campus culture that allow for that to happen, but we do know it’s not unique to college campuses.”

Marisa Kelly, the vice president of on-campus organization I Am That Girl and senior television writing and production major, spoke to the impact and influence fraternities have on sexual violence.

“I know that fraternities might be regarded as ‘rapey frats.’ I don’t know how those things keep happening and I don’t know how everyone who knows that about them still joins and perpetuates their culture and events. By going and knowing, you’re saying that it’s okay,” Kelly said.

Dani Smith, Chapman’s rape crisis counselor and coordinator for C.A.R.E.S (Creating A Rape Free Environment for Students), has worked since 1993 to create resources, educational programs and bring awareness to sexual violence on campus.

“We can always be doing more. There are things we can always be doing to engage in more prevention matters, to provide more effective support and assistance,” Yocum Gaffney said. “That’s the place where you never arrive; that’s something you have to be continually building both as an individual professionally as well as within the campus community.”

Ana Vargas, the vice president of Chapman Feminists and a junior screenwriting major, noted that it’s important to remember sexual violence doesn’t discriminate based on gender.

“Survivors are survivors; not all of them are women,” Vargas said. “There needs to be more intersectionality in these kinds of movement because it affects any kind of person.”