Know My Name by Chanel Miller

“During the trial, the jury was forced to pick; is he wholesome or monstrous. But I never questioned that any of what they said about him was true... One person can be capable of both. Society often fails to wrap its head around the fact these truths often coexist, they are not mutually exclusive. Bad qualities can hide inside a good person. That’s the terrifying part.”

When sexual assault allegations become known, people feel like they have to take sides. They either believe the complainant or they stand with the respondent. To many, these are the only two options available. If you are not standing with them, then you are standing against them. There is right and there is wrong.

Chanel Miller demolishes this fallacy. There are no sides to a sexual assault allegation. There are no winners or losers. Everyone gets caught up in choosing sides that they forget the humanity involved.

Miller’s life was turned upside down. She went from unassuming, anonymous young lady to the victim in a court case the captivated the nation. The actual assault by Brock Turner was just the beginning. The pain and suffering that followed was horrendous. The pain has many sources from emotional trauma to hurtful internet trolls. And though Brock Turner was found guilty (and given a lenient sentence), the pain Miller experienced didn’t simply vanish. The suffering of a victim does not stop when the assault is over, it does not stop when the jury finds the accused guilty. The suffering endures.

And then there is the accused. Turner’s life was turned upside down. The jury found him guilty, and though he was given a ridiculously lenient sentence, he still must register as a sex offender for the rest of his life. But, let’s say he was sentenced to life in prison without parole (which wouldn’t be possible in this specific case, but this is just a rhetorical scenario). Who wins? Yes, Miller would have received justice but there would be no winner.

Sexual assault allegations are not fights. There are no winners or losers. Don’t get me wrong, Turner was found guilty for doing something horrible and he needs to face the consequences. Miller should be celebrated as a survivor and an inspiration to many. But let’s stop thinking one side won and the other lost.

There is the truth. There is justice. There are people. I loved this book by Chanel Miller because it forces you to think about the humanity of the process.

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