In Know My Name (2019), Chanel Miller presents her side of what happened when she was sexually assaulted by Stanford student Brock Turner and forced to endure a long and traumatizing trial in the public eye. Drawing parallels between her own experience and the structural mistreatment of women in the court system, she explains what made her determined to share her story and empower other survivors.
On January 17, 2015, Chanel Miller and her younger sister Tiffany went to a fraternity party on Stanford University campus. Chanel wasn’t crazy about the idea of going to a wild student party – she’d already graduated and wanted to concentrate on her career developing educational apps for an NGO. But she really wanted to spend time with her sister, who was visiting for the weekend, so she decided to tag along.
When they arrived at the party, there was loud music, lots of drinking, and the usual array of boisterous students. Chanel danced and drank some vodka. At one point, she and her sister went outside to use the bathroom. That’s the last thing she remembers.
The next morning, Chanel woke up in a strange room, with a police officer sitting next to her. She feared that she’d passed out in one of the campus buildings and been escorted to this room to sober up.
But some things didn’t add up. She was wearing unfamiliar drawstring pants. And when she went to use the bathroom, she was shocked to find that she wasn’t wearing the underwear she’d left home with either. Her hair was full of dirt, twigs, and leaves, and her body was covered in bruises and abrasions.
The police were strangely evasive when Chanel asked them what had happened. They told her that two students had cycled past a man who was doing something to her while she was passed out that “looked wrong.” One police officer told her that the students were so upset by what they had seen that they’d broken down crying several times in the interview room. Something serious had happened. But what was it?
When Tiffany came to pick her up, she was distraught. She said she had gone to check on a sick friend and suddenly couldn’t find Chanel anywhere. She’d spent the night searching for her, to no avail.
Ten days later, Chanel was drinking coffee at her desk at work. Out of the blue, she received a text from her sister, letting her know that there were stories about her assault in the news. She went online and saw an article that finally revealed to her the details that no one else had: a Stanford student had been charged with raping and assaulting her. On her computer screen, she saw her rapist’s face for the first time.