Chanel Miller is reclaiming the narrative stolen from her during her infamous sexual assault trial against Brock Turner – and her latest project is a powerful short film which carries an important message for survivors of sexual assault.
Until this month, no-one knew Chanel Miller’s real name. She had gone viral, sat at the centre of a controversial news story, and had the intimate details of her assault documented all over the world – but she was only known publicly as Emily Doe. Now, that has changed.
Telling her story in the lead-up to the release of her memoir (which is now available to buy), Chanel Miller spoke candidly in a powerful interview for CBS News’ 60 Minutes, documenting the hate, abuse and vitriol aimed at her online after the details of her assault went viral.
Because Chanel Miller is the victim of Brock Turner – the Stanford University student charged with sexual assault after he attacked an intoxicated and unconscious Miller one evening in 2015. He was sentenced to six months in prison, and released three months early. And while Turner’s case rightfully caused uproar across the country, Miller’s personal story remained a painful secret for her to carry.
That was, of course, until now. Miller’s memoir Know My Name gives voice to her story and experience throughout the court case – including the powerful victim statement she addressed to Turner in court. And to accompany the reclamation of her narrative, Miller has also released a beautiful short film, titled I Am With You, to send a message of support to fellow sexual assault survivors.
Narrated by Miller herself, the story is told through hand drawn illustrations which show Miller’s journey in a creative and moving way.
“It happened when I was 22, on the cusp of my adulthood,” the video begins. “When you are assaulted, an identity is given to you. It threatens to swallow up everything you plan to do. And be. I became Emily Doe.”
As Miller’s face is covered with a menacing dark cloud which threatens to steal her identity completely, the video reads: “Nobody wants to be defined by the worst thing that’s happened to them.”
The film then goes on to show Miller’s experience throughout the trial, which saw her deliver her famous victim impact statement only to be disregarded by the judge, who sentenced Turner to a short six months in prison.
“When I released the statement, something else happened,” the narration continues. “The world breathed life into my words. I spent all this time absorbing, absorbing. Listening to their voices, until I understood.
“Chanel knows how you get in blackouts,” Miller continues, echoing the words used against her by Turner’s defence. “Chanel also knows how to write. And Chanel knows how to draw.”
The film then slides into a shot of Miller in real life, drawing imaginative illustrations across some white walls.
“Survivors will not be limited, labelled, boxed in, oppressed,” the video continues. “We will not be isolated – we’ve had enough. Enough of the shame, diminishment, the disbelief, enough loneliness.
“No-one gets to define you. You do – you do. My name is Chanel – and I am with you.”
The short film, which was produced by an almost-entirely female crew, has been described as an “immensely healing” experience by Miller.
“We should all be creating space for survivors to speak their truths and express themselves freely,” she says about the film. “When society nourishes instead of blames, books are written, art is made, and the world is a little better for it.”