Book review – Know my name by Chanel Miller

“You made me a victim… I had to force myself to relearn my real name, my identity. To relearn that this is not all that I am…”

Her name is Chanel Miller. She is shy, artistic, reflective, poetic and an amazing writer. She is also the victim in the stanford rape case that you may have heard about. It was an international news event. A rapist let off easy because he was a good swimmer. It’s revolting.

In this book Chanel takes us through her accounts of it, and every excruciating detail after the fact. The victim shaming, the judicial process, the press, the anonymity, the breaking and the healing. It’s also a great piece of work that illustrates that particular moment in history. The #metoo movement and female empowerment. Chanel Miller is a name I will now forever link to the women who made space for other women and who held firm in the winds of adversity.

Chanel refuses to compromise her softness, and you can feel that the chapters where she describes her anger and lashing out are out of character for her. This book manages to tell her story balancing past and present beautifully, it offers emotions without self pity or bitterness. I cried. I cried so many times in the days it took me to read this. I cried for Chanel, for myself and all our mothers, sisters and daughters out there. But I didn’t just cry because the book was heartbreaking, but because it was also so full of hope. I’ll leave you with Chanel’s own words…

“I survived because I remained soft, because I listened, because I wrote. Because I huddled close to my truth, protected it like a tiny flame in a terrible storm. Hold up your head when the tears come, when you are mocked, insulted, questioned, threatened, when they tell you you are nothing, when your body is reduced to openings. The journey will be longer than you imagined, trauma will find you again and again. Do not become the ones who hurt you. Stay tender with your power. Never fight to injure, fight to uplift. Fight because you know that in this life, you deserve safety, joy, and freedom. Fight because it is your life. Not anyone else’s. I did it, I am here. Looking back, all the ones who doubted or hurt or nearly conquered me faded away, and I am the only one standing. So now, the time has come. I dust myself off, and go on.”