Her Identity: Know My Name


Chanel Miller redefines the role of a victim of sexual assault, and comes forward in the memoir detailing her life for the past three years since the incident.

Rachel Kavalakatt

Chanel Miller shares the traumatizing experience that she went through in her nonfiction memoir, Know My Name, that was published on September 24, 2019. Throughout the book, by detailing the story revolving around her sexual assault, the long ensuing trial and challenging court case, and the aftermath of piecing  together the broken fragments of her normal life following the experience, Miller reveals to the world a crucial missing piece of the story: her name. 

Four years ago, when her assault the incident occurred, she chose to remain the anonymous victim in the 2016 trial of Stanford swimmer Brock Turner. She brought her story to light through an unidentifiable alias, Emily Doe, who held the hearts of millions and followed the ruthless, lengthy court case while Miller stayed hidden from the spotlight, a backstage director of a powerful and moving production. However, with the release of her memoir, Miller truly takes back her life and redefines herself worth through the striking pages of the book. The novel captivates readers from the opening, which details the confusion and fear that ran through her head when she woke up naked near a trash can after a frat party. She describes all the events that surrounded the assault from her own point of view, allowing for readers to get a glimpse into the internal monologue that was going through her head throughout every step of the incident, hospitalization, and the court proceedings that followed.

I was stunned at how unflinchingly raw and honest her story was. How real and true each word and chapter began, and how it continued to get more human as each chapter culminated. Miller writes in a very direct and forward style, without an instance of beating around the bush in the novel. Although I expected the book to shed light on the taboo issue of sexual assault, the book did so much more, and chronicled the difficult story of recovery and survival unique to sexual assault survivors.

By placing a focus on a victim’s struggle navigating a difficult trial that constantly questions the validity of her truth, her motives, and her witness, readers are confronted with the utter lack of empathy that characterizes our justice system. Wrestling with being cooperative with the court proceedings and being angry with the inadequacies of the legal proceedings, Miller puts into words the unspoken challenges sexual assault survivors face. The book showcases the victim’s often overlooked perspective in sexual assault and rape cases, and highlights a paradox that every victim faces when they decide to seek justice, trying to return to life as usual and move on from the incident, while simultaneously trying to remember and relive every moment of that night to present a compelling case against Turner. 

          What makes Know My Name so powerful is it’s extraordinary attention to detail, to which the author paints a realistic, painful, and accurate account of the effects of sexual assault. Writing a story that everyone should read, mostly for those who are interested in politics, Miller does not use a fake alias, a pseudonym, or a pen name this time around. Rather, she claims her story and voices the truth with her name branded on the cover. 

Rating: 5/5 Stars