“No wallet, no ID. Policemen were summoned, a Stanford dean was awakened to come see if he could recognize me, witnesses asked around; nobody knew who I belonged to, where I’d come from, who I was.” — Chanel Miller
Throughout the Brock Turner trial, you knew her as “Emily Doe.” Now, meet Chanel Miller, who released her memoir, “Know My Name,” back on September 24, which focuses on the assault case.
The Brock Turner trial sparked a national uproar against sexual assault throughout the criminal justice system following his six-month sentence in 2016 after he was convicted of felony sexual assault.
To many, Turner was and is still known as the “Stanford Rapist.” To the world, Chanel Miller was known simply as “the girl passed out behind the dumpster,” or “the victim.” But she deserves more. She deserves better.
However you choose to refer to Turner, one thing we can all agree to — he defied the criminal justice system in a way that called into question how our U.S. courts should approach, address, and consider sexual assault cases (and its victims). Turner faced up to 14 years in prison for his crime — instead, he was given six-months in jail.
Why It’s Time You Know Her Name
As we are quickly approaching 2020, we haven’t heard much from Turner, who now lives in Bellbrook, Ohio with his parents, working at Tark Inc., a factory making cooling technology for medical appliances, earning $12 an hour. According to the company’s website, it provides state-of-the-art pumps and complete cooling packages to leading manufactures in the CT and X-Ray tube industry.
Only until recently did we learn of Chanel Miller’s identity, who recently revealed herself to the public as the victim of Turner’s assault. In September, Miller released her memoir of the assault, detailing the incident. In the memoir, Miller discusses the assault and strives to re-identify herself as a person, and not simply be labeled as a “victim” or “unconscious intoxicated woman” behind a dumpster. She seeks to regain who she once was before the assault – Chanel Miller.
In an interview with 60 Minutes, Miller mentioned how she is aspiring to be a children’s book author, but as long as she has the identity of “drunk/intoxicated woman behind a dumpster,” then no parent would want their children to view Chanel as a role model, she told CBS in September.
Miller recounts her victim impact statement, explaining to CBS that she points to how Turner’s losses are more “concrete,” involving “titles, degrees, and enrollment,” whereas hers are more “internal” and unseen.
And for Miller, she doesn’t want her story to be forgotten in the passage of time. Her memoir allows for a permanent record of the pain, suffering, and humiliation she was caused by Turner’s actions. Pursuing her career aspiration as a children’s author, Miller has not allowed her assault to stop her from moving forward, expressing her desire to continue giving a voice to victims of sexual assault.
As for the Ohio assailant, Turner now resides on Ohio’s Sex Offender Registry, where his image, description, and current image can be found. Under the law, he is required to register each year as a sex offender…for the rest of his life.
The Brock Turner Case
In September of 2014, Turner was admitted to Stanford University on a swimming scholarship.
The following year, Turner attended a party at the Kappa Alpha fraternity. It was here Turner met Miller, the woman he was convicted of sexually assaulting. Allegedly, Turner and Miller, left the party together where Miller allegedly passed out behind a dumpster. Two men riding by happened to see Turner assaulting Miller, and tackled him, and waited for law enforcement to arrive. Turner was immediately arrested.
On January 28, 2015, Turner was charged with two counts of rape, two counts of penetration and one count of assault with intent to rape. The rape charges were eventually dropped.
On March 30, 2016, Turner was found guilty by a jury on Assault with Intent to Commit Rape, Sodomy, Oral Copulation, or Any Violation of 264.1, 288, OR 289; Sexual Penetration with a Foreign Object – Victim Drugged; and Sexual Penetration with a Foreign Object – Victim Unaware of Act.
On June 2, 2016, Judge Aaron Persky sentenced Turner to only six months in jail, where he only ended up serving three. This shook the world. Pursuant to the terms of the agreement, Turner was required to register as a sex offender.
How the Media Should Treat Cases Like This
#1 — Caution When Identifying Victims
News outlets should be more cautious as to how the identify anonymous sexual assault victims.
Sexual assault victims have the ability to choose whether they want to remain anonymous during a trial. Throughout the Brock Turner trial, Miller was identified as “Emily Doe,” while several media outlets identified her as the “intoxicated woman behind a dumpster” or the “Stanford rape victim.” Inappropriate.
To Miller’s point, such means of identifying a sexual assault victim only adds insult to injury. Not only do they have to suffer through their traumatic experiences, but they also now are being labeled as “someone” or “something” that is dehumanizing to say the least. As long as sexual assault victims choose to remain anonymous, media outlets should put more consideration into how they identify them.
#2 — The Story is the Victim, Not the Attacker
Unfortunately, many media outlets choose to focus their stories more on the attacker, rather than the victim. In her interview with 60 Minutes, Miller painfully shared that Turner’s defense team focused on how much Turner had to lose if he were to be convicted of these crimes — Turner would lose his scholarship, his college education, and swimming opportunities.
But what is often forgotten, as Miller explains, is what she has already lost – her innocence, her mental clarity, and her identity. Instead of focusing on the attacker, focus on what the survivor now has to undergo.
Focus on the treatment that he or she needs. Today’s news coverage is too negative — it should be an uplifting tale and an uplifting spotlight on the victim, not the attacker.
#3 — Do Not Blame Society, Blame the Attacker
Society is not to blame, only attackers are to blame.
Sexual assault victims are often forced to hear that “alcohol” and “the hookup culture” is to blame for sexual assaults. While it may be true that alcohol can increase the likelihood or tendencies of such an attack, the decision to drink rests with the attacker, not the victim.
As long as society continues to allow attackers to place their culpability on anyone but themselves, then these attackers will continuously be allowed to escape culpability, similar to the “justice” Turner was given, and never truly accepting responsibility for their actions.