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One in four college women will be sexually assaulted. Every spring hundreds of flags line the lawn of Watson Library. 

Opinion

The woman once known to the public as “Emily Doe," the victim of the brutal sexual assault committed by Brock Turner on Stanford University’s campus in 2015, has broken her anonymity. 

This week, Chanel Miller, now 27, announced the publication of her book "Know My Name: A Memoir." Her notable victim impact statement emerged to the public in 2016, over one year after the assault and two months after Turner’s controversial criminal sentencing. It was the first look the public received into her perspective as a survivor of a sexual assault that faced little justice in court. The statement showcased a strong rhetoric against rape culture and a criticism of the criminal justice system, as well as the media’s handling of the case.  

From her statement, Miller wrote, “It is the saddest type of confusion to be told I was assaulted and nearly raped, blatantly out in the open, but we don’t know if it counts as assault yet. I had to fight for an entire year to make it clear that there was something wrong with this situation.”

While I have never been a victim of assault, I am among a large population of those who know someone or multiple people close to them who have been victims of sexual violence while in college. I’ve been an advocate for a just outcome in the favor of victims who have chosen to report: victims like Christine Blasey Ford, the young girls who suffered assault by R. Kelly, and even one of my close friends I met at the University of Kansas. 

Experiencing sexual violence of any kind is traumatic enough in and of itself, but to reveal yourself to the public as a victim at the risk of backlash is a terrifying experience for survivors. News outlets typically leave out the names of victims when publishing stories about sex crimes for that victim’s safety. 

Miller’s choice to break her silence from the media is one of the boldest moves a victim of sexual assault can make, especially to the degree of familiarity this case has with the public. Thankfully, in Miller’s case, there is clear cut evidence that the assault did occur and Turner was found guiltyAlthough, that isn’t often the case with sex crimes. 

Miller’s revelation stands as evidence that during the years her identity was limited to an “unconscious, intoxicated woman,” the outpouring of support she received has allowed her to cope with her trauma while standing up against her attacker by giving a name and face to her story.

Her case acts as an example in which a modern sexual assault case becomes a cause of huge commotion in the media, typically in the victim’s favor, and that there are hundreds if not thousands of resources for sexual assault survivors to reach out to for the help and support they need during their healing process. 

Sexual violence occurs all too often on college campuses, including our own. It is important for students to recognize predatory behavior to actively combat it. I acknowledge Chanel Miller for her bravery in choosing to identify herself to the public, and I applaud her for providing a voice for survivors everywhere. For those reading who have either been a victim or know someone who is a victim, you are not alone, and you have a support system no matter where or who you are.

Julia Montoya is a senior from Garden City studying English.