Know My Name

Know My Name

by Chanel Miller

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Overview

An Instant New York Times Bestseller

Chosen as a BEST BOOK OF THE YEAR by The New York Times Book Review, The Washington Post, TIME, Elle, Glamour, Parade, Chicago Tribune, Baltimore Sun, BookRiot

"Miller is an extraordinary writer: plain, precise and moving." --NPR

"Know My Name is a gut-punch, and in the end, somehow, also blessedly hopeful." --Washington Post

"Know My Name marks the debut of a gifted young writer. Miller's words are purpose. They are maps. And she is a treasure who has prevailed." --The New York Times


She was known to the world as Emily Doe when she stunned millions with a letter. Brock Turner had been sentenced to just six months in county jail after he was found sexually assaulting her on Stanford's campus. Her victim impact statement was posted on BuzzFeed, where it instantly went viral--viewed by eleven million people within four days, it 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. Thousands wrote to say that she had given them the courage to share their own experiences of assault for the first time.

Now she reclaims her identity to tell her story of trauma, transcendence, and the power of words. It was the perfect case, in many ways--there were eyewitnesses, Turner ran away, physical evidence was immediately secured. But her struggles with isolation and shame during the aftermath and the trial reveal the oppression victims face in even the best-case scenarios. Her story illuminates a culture biased to protect perpetrators, indicts a criminal justice system designed to fail the most vulnerable, and, ultimately, shines with the courage required to move through suffering and live a full and beautiful life.

Know My Name will forever transform the way we think about sexual assault, challenging our beliefs about what is acceptable and speaking truth to the tumultuous reality of healing. It also introduces readers to an extraordinary writer, one whose words have already changed our world. Entwining pain, resilience, and humor, this memoir will stand as a modern classic.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780735223714
Publisher: Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date: 09/24/2019
Sold by: Penguin Group
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 368
Sales rank: 3,148
File size: 908 KB

About the Author

Chanel Miller is a writer and artist who received her BA in Literature from the College of Creative Studies at the University of California, Santa Barbara. She lives in San Francisco, California.

Read an Excerpt

I N T R O D U C T I O N  
 

The fact that I spelled subpoena, suhpeena, may suggest I am not qualified to tell this story. But all court transcripts are at the world’s disposal, all news articles online. This is not the ultimate truth, but it is mine, told to the best of my ability. If you want it through my eyes and ears, to know what it felt like inside my chest, what it’s like to hide in the bathroom during trial, this is what I provide. I give what I can, you take what you need.
In January 2015, I was twenty-two, living and working in my home- town of Palo Alto, California. I attended a party at Stanford. I was sexually assaulted outside on the ground. Two bystanders saw it, stopped him, saved me. My old life left me, and a new one began. I was given a new name to protect my identity: I became Emily Doe.
In this story, I will be calling the defense attorney, the defense. The judge, the judge. They are here to demonstrate the roles they played. This is not a personal indictment, not a clapback, a blacklist, a rehashing. I believe we are all multidimensional beings, and in court, it felt harmful being f lattened, characterized, mislabeled, and vilified, so I will not do the same to them. I will use Brock’s name, but the truth is he could be Brad or Brody or Benson, and it doesn’t matter. The point is not their individual significance, but their commonality, all the peo- ple enabling a broken system. This is an attempt to transform the hurt inside myself, to confront a past, and find a way to live with and incor- porate these memories. I want to leave them behind so I can move forward. In not naming them, I finally name myself.
My name is Chanel.
I am a victim, I have no qualms with this word, only with the idea that it is all that I am. However, I am not Brock Turner’s victim. I am not his anything. I don’t belong to him. I am also half Chinese. My Chinese name is Zhang Xiao Xia, which translates to Little Summer. I was named summer because:
I was born in June.
Xia is also China’s first dynasty. I am the first child.
“Xia” sounds like “sha.” Chanel.
The FBI defines rape as any kind of penetration. But in California, rape is narrowly defined as the act of sexual intercourse. For a long time I refrained from calling him a rapist, afraid of being corrected. Legal definitions are important. So is mine. He filled a cavity in my body with his hands. I believe he is not absolved of the title simply because he ran out of time.
The saddest things about these cases, beyond the crimes themselves, are the degrading things the victim begins to believe about her being. My hope is to undo these beliefs. I say her, but whether you are a man, transgender, gender-nonconforming, however you choose to identify and exist in this world, if your life has been touched by sexual violence, I seek to protect you. And to the ones who lifted me, day by day, out of darkness, I hope to say thank you.
 
 

1.  
 
I AM SHY. In elementary school for a play about a safari, everyone else was an animal. I was grass. I’ve never asked a question in a large lecture hall. You can find me hidden in the corner of any exercise class. I’ll apologize if you bump into me. I’ll accept every pamphlet you hand out on the street. I’ve always rolled my shopping cart back to its place of ori- gin. If there’s no more half-and-half on the counter at the coffee shop, I’ll drink my coffee black. If I sleep over, the blankets will look like they’ve never been touched.
I’ve never thrown my own birthday party. I’ll put on three sweaters before I ask you to turn on the heat. I’m okay with losing board games.  I stuff my coins haphazardly into my purse to avoid holding up the checkout line. When I was little I wanted to grow up and become a mascot, so I’d have the freedom to dance without being seen.
I was the only elementary school student to be elected as a conflict manager two years in a row; my job was to wear a green vest every recess, patrolling the playground. If anyone had an unsolvable dispute, they’d find me and I’d teach them about I-Messages such as I feel       
when you       . Once a kindergartner approached me, said everyone got ten seconds on the tire swing, but when she swung, kids counted one cat, two cat, three cat, and when the boys swung, they counted one hippopotamus, two hippopotamus, longer turns. I declared from that day forward everyone would count one tiger, two tiger. My whole life I’ve counted in tigers.
I introduce myself here, because in the story I’m about to tell, I begin with no name or identity. No character traits or behaviors assigned to  me. I was found as a half-naked body, alone and unconscious. 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.
My memory tells me this: On Saturday, January 17, 2015, I was living at my parents’ house in Palo Alto. My younger sister, Tiffany, a junior at Cal Poly, had driven three hours up the coast for the long weekend. She usually spent her time at home with friends, but occasionally she’d give some of that time to me. In the late afternoon, the two of us picked up her friend Julia, a Stanford student, and drove to the Arastradero Preserve to watch the sun spill its yolk over the hills. The sky darkened, we stopped at a taqueria. We had a heated debate about where pigeons sleep, argued about whether more people fold toilet paper into squares (me) or simply crumple it (Tiffany). Tiffany and Julia mentioned a party they were going to that evening at Kappa Alpha on the Stanford campus. I paid little attention, ladling green salsa into a teeny plastic cup.
Later that night, my dad cooked broccoli and quinoa, and we reeled when he presented it as qwee-noah. It’s keen-wah, Dad, how do you not know that!! We ate on paper plates to avoid washing dishes. Two more of Tiffany’s friends, Colleen and Trea, arrived with a bottle of champagne. The plan was for the three of them to meet Julia at Stanford.  They said, You should come. I said, Should I go, would it be funny if I went. I’d be the oldest one there. I rinsed in the shower, singing. Sifted through wads of socks looking for undies, found a worn polka-dotted triangle of fabric in the corner. I pulled on a tight, charcoal-gray dress. A heavy silver necklace with tiny red stones. An oatmeal cardigan with large brown buttons. I sat on my brown carpet, lacing up my coffee-colored combat boots, my hair still wet in a bun.
Our kitchen wallpaper is striped blue and yellow. An old clock and wooden cabinets line the walls, the doorframe marked with our heights over the years (a small shoe symbol drawn if we were measured while wearing them). Opening and closing cabinet doors, we found nothing but whiskey; in the refrigerator the only mixers were soy milk and lime juice. The only shot glasses we had were from family trips, Las Vegas, Maui, back when Tiffany and I collected them as little cups for our stuffed animals. I drank the whiskey straight, unapologetically, freely, the same way you might say, Sure I’ ll attend your cousin’s bar mitzvah, on the one condition that I’m hammered.
We asked our mom to take the four of us to Stanford, a seven-minute drive down Foothill Expressway. Stanford was my backyard, my community, a breeding ground for cheap tutors my parents hired over the years. I grew up on that campus, attended summer camps in tents on the lawns, snuck out of dining halls with chicken nuggets bulging from my pockets, had dinner with professors who were parents of good friends. My mom dropped us off near the Stanford bookstore, where on rainy days she had brought us for hot cocoa and madeleines.
We walked five minutes, descended the slope of pavement to a large house tucked beneath pine trees. A guy with tiny tally marks of hair on his upper lip let us in. I found a soda and juice dispenser in the fraternity kitchen, began slapping the buttons, concocting a nonalcoholic beverage I advertised as dingleberry juice. Now serving le dinglebooboo drank for the lady! KA, KA all day. People started pouring in. The lights went off.
We stood behind a table by the front door like a welcoming committee, spread our arms and sang, Welcome welcome welcome!!! I watched the way girls entered, heads tucked halfway into their shoulders, smiling timidly, scanning the room for a familiar face to latch on to. I knew that look because I’d felt it. In college, a fraternity was an exclusive kingdom, throbbing with noise and energy, where the young ones heiled and the large males ruled. After college, a fraternity was a sour, yeasty atmosphere, a scattering of f limsy cups, where you could hear the soles of your shoes unpeeling from sticky floors, and punch tasted like paint thinner, and curls of black hair were pasted to toilet rims. We discovered a plastic handle of vodka on the table. I cradled it like I’d discovered water in the desert. Bless me. I poured it into a cup and threw it back straight. Everyone was mashed up against each other on tables, swaying like little penguins. I stood alone on a chair, arms in the air, a drunk piece of seaweed, until my sister escorted me down. We went outside to pee in the bushes. Julia and I began freestyle rapping. I rapped about dry skin, got stuck when I couldn’t think of anything that rhymed with Cetaphil.
The basement was full, people spilling out onto the orb of light on the concrete patio. We stood around a few short Caucasian guys who wore their caps backward, careful not to get their necks sunburned, indoors, at night. I sipped a lukewarm beer, said it tasted like pee, and handed it to my sister. I was bored, at ease, drunk, and extremely tired, less than ten minutes away from home. I had outgrown everything around me. And that is where my memory goes black, where the reel cuts off.
I, to this day, believe none of what I did that evening is important, a handful of disposable memories. But these events will be relentlessly raked over, again and again and again. What I did, what I said, will all be sliced, measured, calculated, presented to the public for evaluation. All because, somewhere at this party, is him.

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Know My Name 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 8 reviews.
Anonymous 10 months ago
Reading this book and taking a step into Chanel's world is such an inspirational tale, and one that will reach anyone who has a soul, heart, or a conscious. I know for a fact her being brave enough to reach out like this will save the lives of many people who are affected by attackers in this world, and who are faced with a lack of support from the community. If Chanel ever does read this, girl you're amazing.The media, the school, and Brock Turner's family are vile for orchestrating the attacks that they did against this woman who was assaulted by a rapist, and they should all be ashamed.
charmingartworks 10 months ago
I remember hearing Emily Doe's story when the case was still fresh, and after learning of the unfair verdict the judge declared, I felt enraged. How is it that the legal system is so adamant when it comes to not believing victims? Why do we tell our citizens to trust in the system, when it is the system that broke that fragile trust in the first place? I could go on about how unfair things can be, but this book's 357 pages speaks much louder than any of my rage filled ramblings could ever dream of saying. An emotional, empowering story, Know My Name manages to convey all the heartbreak, loss, and hope Chanel Miller felt throughout those grueling months in a satisfying manner. The way she wrote the story without throwing anyone under the bus was phenomenal. Although more than a few of the unsavory characters Chanel has had the misfortune of meeting deserve more than a few scathing words, Chanel tells the story in a mature manner and states nothing but facts the entire journey. You will find yourself cheering her on for events she managed to get through with the help of her loved ones and with strength she wasn't aware she had. Anyone with a heart will find themselves hurting while reading this. This is not necessarily a happy story. It tells horrifying truths that we refuse to accept, for fear they will somehow root their way into our lives. But it is also the story of a young woman relearning how to be herself, and embrace who she is. The raw pain is accompanied by the struggle of recovery, a struggle that never really goes away. The way Chanel kept getting up, sometimes picked up by her loved ones, sometimes picking herself up, is nothing short of inspiring. Whether she was Emily Doe or Chanel Miller, the young woman who went through hell and back to fight for what is right is a hero. She started a movement that ended with justice, something she herself lacked in that fateful verdict. Reading this changed my view of the world, and made me realized that change truly is possible, nothing is a loss cause if you keep fighting. Although I wish this horrible event never happened to you and this particular, painful book didn't exist, I am glad I know your name Chanel Miller.
Anonymous 10 months ago
This book should be required reading for every adult. There must be an end to excusing sexual predators!
Anonymous 7 months ago
Weeks after reading the book I am still thinking about it. Her writing style is very direct and authoritative. She doesn't mince thoughts or convictions. Chanel Miller's story is one of triumph over an adversarial system with a predestination of belittling victims and downplaying perpetrators crimes. Chanel Miller has a great gift of a particularly provocative of thought of what is right and what is wrong and that with a strong will one can overcome great adversity.
Anonymous 8 months ago
This book hits the high mark with every single sentence constructed. What an unbelievably epic writing ability. Read it. You will eat, sleep and breathe it.And don't we all so hope that the ugly heartbeats that sustain, scar & disbelieve assault victims are finally stilled ---- in our lifetimes?
Anonymous 9 months ago
Such a moving book.
DeediReads 7 days ago
I don’t know what I can possibly say about Know My Name that has not been said before: It’s incredible. It’s powerful. It’s hard to read at times; it will almost certainly bring you to tears. Seeing what she can do with words, the fact that Chanel Miller’s victim impact statement went viral is now completely unsurprising. Chanel’s memoir begins at the beginning: the evening she decided to go to a party in order to spend time with her sister and her friends — where she was ultimately sexually assaulted by Brock Turner. She walks her readers through everything that followed. She woke up in the hospital the next day with pine needles in her hair and her underwear missing, and no one told her what happened to her, or even what they suspected. She learned about Brock and the two Australian men who cased him off of her in the news, at the same time as everyone else. She agreed to press charges without having any idea of what that would entail, thinking it was a formality that would be resolved in one court session. She moved across the country several times, looking for occupation and meaning and a chance to heal while the process dragged on and on. She went through the trial and all of the roller coasters that came with it. She was built up again as her victim impact statement went viral. And she learned a lot about support and the act of providing it, a lot about herself and humanity and trauma and the shared experience of women. I own a copy of this book, but I still decided to wait for the audiobook from the library so that I could hear Chanel read it herself. I am so glad I did. But about a third of the way through, I found myself not avoiding it exactly, but just a bit intimidated to return to it. So I ended up lying on my couch one Saturday afternoon and playing Sudoku while I listened to the rest of it. This was a good decision — the rest was so heartbreaking and powerful, I don’t think I could have done it justice while I commuted or cooked or whatever I would have done otherwise. And to experience her words all at once allowed me to really feel my way through her story. I am in awe of Chanel Miller. I always will be. Read this book.
ody 3 months ago
This is the disturbing story about the sexual assault that was all over the news a few years back about the Stanford student who was discovered attacking a woman who was unconscious and partly unclothed outside near a dumpster. A pair of bicyclists came to the aid of the woman, giving chase when the man ran off on seeing them. They first checked to see that the woman was ok before going after him. The victim’s identity was shielded by being known as Emily Doe for a long while, up until trial when her first name was used. She later outed herself with this excellent book. And of course the perpetrator is the creepy Brock Turner of former swimming note. Miller does a wonderful job of sharing her experiences and trauma of the aftermath following waking up in the hospital after the attack, and the ordeal of getting to and then through the trial. Recommended.