The powerful 5-minute film shows how Chanel Miller reclaimed her identity after being assaulted by Brock Turner
Chanel Miller is the survivor in the Brock Turner sexual assault case who read her 12-page victim impact statement to her attacker in court. However, she was made famous as “Jane Doe,” not her real name, and she grappled with how the world came to know her. She recently released a memoir, appropriately titled Know My Name, and now, she’s come out with a stunning animated short film about what happened to her identity and what happens to the identity of many survivors, after an assault.
The powerful film was shared on the Viking Books YouTube page this morning.
In the moving 5-minute film called I Am With You, Miller details the story of her sexual assault and the very public trial that took place after. It’s heartbreaking to hear her talk about how this one night turned her life upside-down. Even more heartbreaking is how difficult it was for her to feel seen and heard as anything other than the woman who Brock Turner raped behind a dumpster.
“Nobody wants to be defined by the worst thing that’s happened to them,” she says in the short film. But that’s exactly what Miller felt happened to her — she felt as if she didn’t know who she was anymore. A series of words flash on the screen. Words like “drunk,” “half-naked,” “nameless,” and “nobody.” They were the words Miller felt would follow her forever and that shaped her identity for some time after that fateful night.
Miller wrote an impact statement which she read directly to the man who assaulted her in court. “But the judge didn’t hear me,” she says in the video. But then something else happened. When Miller’s impact statement went viral online, she understood that other people were listening. Those people did hear her and shared their own stories, too.
“When I released the statement, something else happened. The world breathed life into my words,” she says in the film. “I spent all this time absorbing, absorbing, listening to their voices until I understood. Chanel knows how you get in blackouts,” she says, quoting the defense attorney. “But Chanel also knows how to write, how to draw.”
Chanel goes on to talk about how using her crafts to share her story helped to bring her back to herself — to help her form a new identity. It’s amazingly powerful to see how this woman stood up against everything that was holding her back and used her pain to connect to others, which turned out to be healing.
“Survivors will not be boxed in, oppressed. We’ve had enough — enough of the shame, the disbelief, the loneliness,” she says. For Miller, her identity is everything to her, so her message makes perfect sense after everything she’s been through. She simply refuses to let those events define her.
The brave and inspirational video ends with one final thought: “My name is Chanel and I am with you.” What a beautiful tribute to survivors and hopefully, a way to help others feel heard, too.