Know My Name
By Chanel Miller
She was known to the world as Emily Doe when she stunned millions with a letter. Brock Turner had been sentenced to just six months in county jail after he was found sexually assaulting her on Stanford’s campus. Her victim impact statement was posted on BuzzFeed, where it instantly went viral–viewed by eleven million people within four days, it was translated globally and read on the floor of Congress; it inspired changes in California law and the recall of the judge in the case. Thousands wrote to say that she had given them the courage to share their own experiences of assault for the first time.
Now she reclaims her identity to tell her story of trauma, transcendence, and the power of words. It was the perfect case, in many ways–there were eyewitnesses, Turner ran away, physical evidence was immediately secured. But her struggles with isolation and shame during the aftermath and the trial reveal the oppression victims face in even the best-case scenarios. Her story illuminates a culture biased to protect perpetrators, indicts a criminal justice system designed to fail the most vulnerable, and, ultimately, shines with the courage required to move through suffering and live a full and beautiful life.
- Did you enjoy this book? Rate it out of 5.
- Do you remember this case as it unfolded in the news? Did you follow it at all?
- Was there anything about Chanel’s story that surprised you? Was there anything about the legal system and process from a victim’s perspective that you found surprising?
- In what ways do you think the legal system failed Chanel? What–if anything–do you think was done well?
- Chanel writes, “They seemed angry that I’d made myself vulnerable, more than the fact that he’d acted on my vulnerability.” Discuss how consent is defined both in the context of her trial, and in society as a whole. Much was made of the fact that Chanel never said no–despite the fact that she was unable to do so–when in reality, consent should be enthusiastic and ongoing. How can we change the conversation about consent?
- Chanel is half Chinese, currently in many parts of the world there is a rise in anti-asian racism, mainly against women, discuss.
- While she was being coached for trial, Chanel was expected to appear a very specific way. Not too angry, not too sad, not too “okay.” And yet, a lot of what Chanel felt at times was rage. Is rage a valuable emotion? Discuss why or why not.
- The word “victim” can be loaded–some prefer not to use it while others are fine embracing it. Discuss how Chanel feels about the word and the identity that comes with it.
- Discuss the power of names in Miller’s memoir. Chanel talks about the name she was given during the investigation and trial, her use of names throughout the narrative, and the power of claiming her own name. Why do you believe it’s important to her that people know her name? How does trauma take away someone’s identity?
- Do you believe that Stanford University did enough to reach out to Chanel after her assault? What more could they have done? Discuss universities’ roles and responsibilities in preventing rape and diminishing rape culture.Do you have more empathy for survivors of sexual assault after reading this memoir? How so?
- In many ways, pressing charges was a dehumanizing experience for Chanel. Discuss how victims are dehumanized, and how Chanel counters this by humanizing herself in this book?