Know my name : a memoir

by Chanel Miller

Hardcover, 2019

Status

Available

Publication

New York : Viking, 2019.

Description

Brock Turner had been sentenced to just six months in county jail after he was found sexually assaulting "Emily Doe" on Stanford's campus. Her victim impact statement was posted on BuzzFeed, where it instantly went viral, 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. Now Miller reclaims her identity to tell her story of trauma, transcendence, and the power of words. She tells of her struggles with isolation and shame during the aftermath and the trial, reveals the oppression victims face in even the best-case scenarios, and illuminates a culture biased to protect perpetrators. --

Media reviews

Miller is an extraordinary writer: plain, precise and moving. The memoir's sharpest moments focus on her family and their grief over her attack.

User reviews

LibraryThing member lauralkeet
In January, 2015 a young woman was sexually while attending a party at Stanford University. The assailant was a first-year student on a swimming scholarship. The victim, Chanel Miller, remained anonymous until recently, known to the public only as “Emily Doe.” Know my Name is Miller’s deeply personal account of the assault, the aftermath, and the legal process that finally came to an end in 2018.

This is one of the most intense and emotional books I have ever read. Miller writes with a strong, authentic voice and doesn’t mince words. She begins by describing her experience waking up on a gurney after the assault, her body’s condition, and the gradual realization of what happened to her. This is horrific and difficult reading, made even more so by Miller’s candor about the impact of this traumatic event on her mental and emotional health and her relationships with important people in her life.

While reading this memoir, I was compelled to keep going, but the emotional impact was palpable. I had to force myself to take breaks, reading smaller segments in order not to be overwhelmed. That this happened to me, a reader with no personal connections or experience, says a lot about what it must have been like for Miller, and what it must be like for any victim of sexual assault.

In the latter part of the book, Miller turns her attention to more recent cases of sexual assault involving high-powered public figures like Harvey Weinstein and the 45th President of the United States. She describes the evolution of public discourse and opinion, and her hopes for the future. It’s worth noting that Miller has twice been recognized as one of Glamour’s women of the year: first in 2016, as Emily Doe, and again in 2019 as herself. I suspect we haven’t seen the last of Chanel Miller, and hope she continues to be a voice for change.
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LibraryThing member barlow304
This book, although beautifully written, is a hard one to finish. That's due to the subject matter, a sexual assault and its devastating consequences for the person who was attacked: Chanel Miller.

In luminous and crystalline prose, Chanel Miller proudly reclaims her identity, while admitting that the courtroom alias, Emily Doe, helped her during the early days of the case to function somewhat normally. As Ms. Miller makes clear, however, she was not feeling normal, but hid her hurt from those around her as long as she could. The passages on the legal system and the court trial are riveting, so that the eventual sentence comes through clearly as a miscarriage of justice.

For anyone interested in the court system and how it struggles to protect victims, for anyone brave enough to share Ms. Miller's pain for a while, this book is highly recommended.
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LibraryThing member Zoes_Human
I am a victim, I have no qualms with this word, only with the idea that it is all that I am.

In this brilliantly written memoir, Chanel Miller—more commonly known as Emily Doe, victim of Brock Turner—seizes back her voice and her story. In the process, she takes us on a journey through a system that protects the wealthy, the corporations, and the police, regardless of the cost to the rest of us. Her narrative shows us how our institutions systematically grind down those most in need of their help by continuing the abuse years beyond the the crime. But she also shows us hope and the possibility of change.

This will be a challenging read, but it is also a critical read for anyone who wants change in our society. We cannot change a system if we do not understand how it is failing. It's also important to read, because Chanel deserves to be know wholly and to be seen as the fully-actualized human she is.
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LibraryThing member larryerick
I was struggling a bit to figure out how to approach reviewing this book, and then Washington Post columnist, Monica Hesse, helped me out with a new article today about the Harvey "MeToo" Weinstein trial. In the article, Hesse points out a hypothetical burglary trial where the alleged victim is asked by the defense attorney, "But what were you wearing that night your TV disappeared? Are you sure you didn’t say something that would make the defendant believe you wanted him to take the TV? Hey, didn’t you once have a dispute with a landlord?" It doesn't take a big leap to replace "burglary" with "rape" to see how ridiculous the defense attorney's questions for a rape suspect commonly are. I have some analysis of where this book fits with that WAPO column and other resources, but I must admit, for purposes of claiming any credibility, that I am so far removed from sexual interactions, of any type, I'm like a black rotary phone in the bottom of a big box up in the dusty attic of a house the city wants to buy, raze, and turn into a dog park. I'm working entirely from old memory here. There are good books with a more academic slant, such as Kate Harding's Asking for It, which try to examine the social and legal hurdles sexual assault victims must confront. And, of course, there is the often totally raw responses that the Roxane Gay anthology, Not That Bad, presents. From my limited perspective, this book absorbs all of what those books offer and expands on them, filling nearly every crack and crevice possible. It is a stunning work. The bulk of the book is the author's full journey through a devastating series of events where an actual sexual assault is but one of many abuses suffered. As if that deeply personal reporting to the reader is not enough, the author then goes beyond the confines of her own case into the Trump, Weinstein, Cosby, and myriad of other contemporary phenomena in the public consciousness. It is both painful memoir and a master class on sexual assault cases. I fully acknowledge my diminished qualifications to say so, but I would think that every female, every person, subject to potential sexual assault, or who has suffered sexual assault, or who has narrowly avoided sexual assault, should read this book. Even those males whose genital blood supply isn't directly connected to the power/hate portions of their brain cells could benefit from knowing the full depth of what their fellow humans have been confronting.… (more)
LibraryThing member Beth.Clarke
Chanel's emotional story is certainly painful, but her writing is exquisite. The reader is given her first hand experience of how sexual assault affects not only the victim, but everyone. Chanel praises the heroes that helped her and displays the actions of the savages that hurt her over and over again. Read this book. Understand Chanel. Go vote in November! We can do better.… (more)
LibraryThing member Citizenjoyce
Chanel Miller is the woman who was raped by Brock Turner and whose identity was hidden for years. Wow, did he pick the wrong woman! He thought she was just some drunk he could wipe himself on, and instead she's intelligent, perceptive and articulate. She describes what it is like to spend years trying to prove that you don't deserve to be raped - how can you possibly do that? She describes both the courtroom scenes and her recovery so that even those of us who can't understand how a person could still suffer from a rape years later finally get it. I recommend it to everyone, especially to judges. I googled what's going on with Brock Turner these days and found accounts of his working as a lawn man or in a manufacturing plant for $12 an hour. This rich guy with all his connections, how could that be true? Then I realized, he was on parole for 3 years, he had to hold a job and act like a good guy. Well, that's over now, so I imagine his family will cushion his damaged psyche, but he still has to register as a sex offender for the rest of his life. I imagine that could be an inconvenience.… (more)
LibraryThing member msf59
“Hold up your head when the tears come, when you are mocked, insulted, questioned, threatened, when they tell you you are nothing, when your body is reduced to openings. The journey will be longer than you imagined, trauma will find you again and again. Do not become the ones who hurt you. Stay tender with your power. Never fight to injure, fight to uplift.”

“My pain was never more valuable than his potential.”

Chanel Miller, at age 22, was sexually assaulted, while attending a college frat party, at Stanford University.
She woke up in the hospital, having no idea what had happened. She became Emily Doe. Her attacker was Brock Turner, a star swimming athlete, at the school. He was revered. She was scorned.
This memoir is Miller's attempt to reclaim her identity and tell her story, which was sparked by her victim impact statement, that she stated in court. These strong, heart-rending words, quickly caught fire, online and she was universally admired for her courage and tenacity.
I saw Miller being interviewed on 60 Minutes, a few months back and was impressed at the way she presented herself. Her writing is no different. She is a natural. Not an easy read. The reader will be disturbed and infuriated, in equal measures, but the triumph of this story wins out. Her timing is perfect too, with the Weinsteins, and Cosbys of the world, finally paying a price for decades of abuse.
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LibraryThing member PhilipJHunt
After the last page, number 375, I sat back and released the biggest SIGH. Did I breathe at all from page 1? Even knowing the outcome in advance of the court case did nothing to relieve the tension Chanel creates through her awful ordeal. Don't take my word for it. READ IT. And, yes, WEEP.

This is a gifted, intelligent writer and communicator who has crafted one of the great books of this century. Read it slowly. Every word is intended. Every sentence fits. It's a work of literary art.… (more)
LibraryThing member Narshkite
First, Miller's courage is truly admirable. She says she was persuaded by the bravery of Christine Blassey Ford to reveal her own identity, and I am sure Miller's choice to tell her truth will give other women the courage to come forward. This is how we strike back at a culture which minimizes the impact of rape. I was not so brave when it was me a lifetime ago. My admiration is real.

Miller is a good (not great, but good) writer and makes many good choices here. All that said she is very young with very little life experience. Her broad overly confident indictments of the justice system and higher education's response to sexual assault on campus are occassionally tin eared and nearly always display a lack of foundational knowledge. I do not question her statements as they apply to her case. Objectively, the judge was a privileged white man who used his power to protect privileged white males. Objectively, Stanford mucked up their response in this case. But. As a lawyer who now codirects a program at a large universty's law school, I can tell you that protecting our students and providing support to victims and censure to perpetrators is something we work very hard to do right. We so because we care deeply about our students and all people who visit our campuses. This is our community, and making it a place of humanity, of equality, of respect is paramount. This is not because we fear legal consequences (though we are and must be mindful of those) but because we believe in these fundamental principles. I would be shocked to learn this was any less true at Stanford than at the school where I am employed. Miller's account of her experience can help us all be better, but her cultural commentary sometimes ends up being pat "Karen on Facebook" answers to complex problems. These sorts of pronouncments often lead to empty changes meant to placate rather then remedy. She attributes motivations to people with no information and makes pronouncements about how things should be that ignore the very purposes of the legal system and the realities of a university campus. Her attack on the rights of defendants is simply incorrect. Our Constitution is there to protect individuals in their dealings with the government, not to protect victims from non-government perpetrators. I am not saying victims should not find support granted by law, but low taxes do away with those sorts of services that do not stem from Constitutional guarantees. Protections for defendants come from the Constituition, and though budget cuts shave those protections very close, the states cannot (and should not) ignore them. They are the foundation of liberty.

Though imperfect this is an unquestionably good book, it should be mandatory reading for freshmen and again, I am grateful to and in awe of Chanel Miller.
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LibraryThing member carolfoisset
Wow - what an impactful book, what an amazing writer. Chanel gave me insight to sexual violence that I did not have before- even as a woman. I have already recommended this book to others. Some women say "the topic is too difficult" and I try to tell them that this is the book they need to read on this subject. We need to hear her story. I wish the best for her - what a strong woman and I hope that she continues to write - she is a beautiful writer.… (more)

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