Chanel Miller tells her experience with sexual assault in Know My Name: A Memoir

Book Review

Know My Name: A Memoir is a memoir written by author Chanel Miller, published in 2019. It follows Miller and her experience with sexual assault, along with the famous court case that followed in January of 2015, People v. Turner. 

Why she chose to speak up now as opposed to before?

During the case, Miller chose to go by the anonymous name, Emily Doe, to protect her identity. But in this memoir, she finally chooses to go public with her side of the story. After going through the tribulations of the assault, the case, and the after-effects, Miller is finally ready to speak up. 

The reason behind the title

This ties in directly with the title of the memoir: Know My Name. It is clearly a title of empowerment. As opposed to how she felt before, she wants the whole world to know her name and her story, along with all the feelings she felt and the unfairness she received. 

The powerfulness of the beginning

The memoir begins with an introduction, in which Miller emphasizes her right of storytelling. This is her story, not anyone else’s, and she will tell it how she chooses, even if others may dislike it. She emphasizes this point by misspelling the word subpoena but implying that little mistakes do not discredit her story. 

What she remembers from that night

From the night itself, Miller remembers very little about the actual assault. She remembers going to a Stanford party with her sister and sister’s best friend and drinking like she normally did at college parties. Unfortunately, however, her memory then blacks out. 

Waking up in hospital

Her next memory is waking up in a hospital bed, with patches of dried blood on her hands and with two detectives in her room. Upon seeing the deputy, she recalls the use of scissors to cut off her underwear for testing purposes, and she begins to slowly piece together what happened to her. 

Sexual assault response team

From there, she is taken to a separate building to work with the Sexual Assault Response Team for a full body examination and further testing. She writes about feeling almost calm at the hands of the women working on her. With them, she felt no shame because they understood. Her primary feeling was warmth. 

The type of person that Chanel is (desperation to prove herself)

It is important to note that following the assault, Chanel feels desperate to prove herself as a person, especially one that is responsible and reliable. She is a normally easygoing and quiet person, who does not wish for her drinking or natural attributes to be used against her in order to justify what happened to her. 

How did Chanel felt directly after the assault?

Afterwards, Chanel feels violated, unheard, and shameful to admit what had happened to loved ones. She is also left questioning what the man had actually done to her, as test results had not come in yet to definitively tell what happened. She recalls going to empty parking lots at night and just screaming and crying so that nobody heard her. 

How did she attempted to heal?

She tries to heal by opening up to loved ones, like her sister and parents, as well as her long distance boyfriend who comes to visit. Still, she feels trapped in her home and job and environment, and chooses to move to Rhode Island and attend a design school to make a new atmosphere for herself. 

The identity of the man and how this affected the case

Much of the reason that she feels so overburdened is due to the identity of the offender. He was a star Stanford student, who swam for the Stanford team and had received many awards for his athletic achievements. This sparked a lot of debate about the case. 

The role of the press in this case

The press and media were adamant on painting Brock Turner as a good person who clearly was only responding to the victim’s sexual desires. News outlets labeled the victim as being overdramatic and some just pointed at the victim for lying about the rape so that she did not have to admit that she cheated on her boyfriend. 

The Defense 

During the trial, the defense used Turner’s alcohol consumption to account for his behavior on the night of the assault. The defense also argued that because Turner was found with his clothes on, he shouldn’t have been found guilty of assault with intent to commit rape because there was a lack of evidence that he would have actually raped the woman.

Intent is something that can be determined by surrounding circumstances,” 

Prosecution: Victim-impact statement and its importance

The prosecution’s victim-impact statement was the first time that the court heard the victim’s words firsthand and truly learned what she had to say. This made a huge impact on the case and the world, as her heavy words struck a chord with many. “You don’t know me, but you’ve been inside me, and that’s why we’re here today,” the victim said to Turner in court. 

Length and process of case

The trial, which began in January of 2015, concluded on March 30, 2016, with Turner convicted of three charges of felony sexual assault. On June 2, 2016, the Santa Clara County Superior Court Judge Aaron Persky sentenced Turner to six months in jail followed by three years of probation.

Final verdict

This verdict outraged people across the world. After the 7,000-word victim impact statement went viral, everyone was shocked at the judge’s lenient sentence for Turner. A mere six months in jail with only probation afterwards was nothing compared to the lifetime of trauma that the victim would have to endure. 

Impact of verdict

This case was a huge contributor to the Me-Too movement. Enraged women everywhere stood up for the unknown victim, claiming that they stand with her and believe her for all that she says. They wanted justice for the victim and they wanted Brock Turner to face his consequences. 

Recall of Aaron Persky (the judge)

The controversial sentencing by judge Aaron Persky led to Persky being recalled two years after the Turner case. It was the first time since 1932 that a sitting judge was recalled by California voters. This shows the level of impact that Chanel’s statement had on the world, despite her unknown identity. 

How the memoir ends, what Chanel chooses to close with

The book closes with a message of hope from Chanel. She talks about the strength and courage she had mustered to endure the case, but at the end of the day, it was worth it because she is the only one left standing. 

My thoughts on the book and if I would recommend it

I would highly recommend this book to anyone who is willing to listen to Chanel. Hearing her casual voice but necessary message reminded me that she is a normal person and that this could happen to anybody, and people like Chanel need support from anyone they can get. Thank you.