Vote 2020 graphic
Everything you need to know about and expect during
the most important election of our lifetimes

Chanel Miller On Why She Became 'Emily Doe' During Stanford Sexual Assault Case

Illustration for article titled Chanel Miller On Why She Became Emily Doe During Stanford Sexual Assault Case
Screenshot: 60 Minutes/CBS

We now know that 27-year-old Chanel Miller is Emily Doe, the anonymous woman at the center of the Stanford sexual assault case, whose powerful victim impact statement directed at Brock Turner went viral. Miller revealed her identity earlier this month in advance of the release of Know My Name, her memoir focusing on her assault, and in a new interview with The New York Times she talks about why she stayed anonymous as Emily Doe during the case.

Advertisement

“It let me have a life in which this never happened,” she says of the alias, but it also effectively erased her totality in the eyes of the media who were quick to label Turner a talented “Stanford swimmer.” “I remember thinking, after reading the news about him, that I wished I had more extracurriculars,” she says. “The fact that I had no headline, it was just so clear to me that I was nobody.”

A literature major at UC Santa Barbara who previously told CBS News that she wanted to be a writer since she was a child, Know My Name gives Miller the opportunity to share her story entirely on her own terms. As much as “Emily Doe” allowed her to compartmentalize her assault and protect herself, Miller says her book and revealing her identity is now a way to accept and engage with her assault. “Before, I wanted the assault to not be a part of my life, and that was the goal,” she tells the NYT. “Now it’s accepting that it will always be a part of my life, and I just figure out where it lives inside my life.”

Pop Culture Reporter, Jezebel

Share This Story

Get our newsletter

DISCUSSION

mamallamajama
Mama Llama Jama

I don’t blame her for trying to keep that experience as outside of the day to day as possible. I went the other way with a campus sexual assault by a classmate and I can’t say it was a positive experience.

I was raped by a classmate during my undergraduate studies at a small liberal arts college. I went to the dean immediately afterwards, still clearly under the influence of the drug I had been given, unable even to stand. She told me to go to back to my dorm, shower, and sleep it off. I was in no condition to think clearly so I did as she said and cried myself to sleep.

The next day, I met with her and the college’s lawyer. They told me, basically, that they thought it was regret after sex with a man (during my first year in school here, I had been in a relationship with another woman) and that the school could not and would not do anything. And, in any case, it would be a “he said she said thing” and did I really want to revictimize myself in court.

Somehow, word got out about my rape. His other victims - and there were more than you would hope - came to me to tell me what had happened to them. Other students, and even one faculty member, came to me to tell me how sorry they were. My rapist and I attended many of the same small (<30) classes for the next 3 years.

I relived my rape daily. Every time he gave a presentation that I was forced to pay attention to and my classmates gave me sympathetic looks. Every time someone came to me, as much as 3 years later, to tell me of their experience, ask if anything had happened, ask if I could write a letter to the student union to prevent that asshole from becoming a tutor, etc. That rape was part of my day to day every day for 3 years all because they all knew what had happened and who it had happened to.

I’m fine now though I’ll never, ever set foot on that campus again. But I wonder if I’d have been better off anonymous. The choice even to be so was taken away from me - a so-called friend or maybe even the dean made sure of that. I was successful enough academically to continue on to grad school. But I wonder how I’d have done if I had been permitted anonymity rather than being The Campus Rape Victim.

In any case, I’m glad Chanel Miller had the choice. I’m glad we now know her name. And I'm glad that she has a bright, bright future.