“Know My Name” by Chanel Miller

The Power of Words


Book Cover

“Know My Name” by Chanel Miller, written in 2019, is a 368 page memoir about a sexual assault survivor.

(Trigger Warning: sexual assault) 

Some people may think that keeping sensitive topics hidden and unseen will make them disappear. By reading “Know my Name” by Chanel Miller, I have realized that’s not the case. If someone who has been through so much hurt and trauma has still built the courage to have a voice and be heard, why can’t we? 

Every year an author gets chosen to be sponsored by Des Moines Area Community College (DMACC) for the “One Book” author event, and AP Literature and Composition students get to take part. This year’s chosen book was “Know my Name” by Chanel Miller. 

“Know my Name” is the story of a survivor who tells the world that sexual objectification is everywhere and the threat of sexual violence is constant. Miller shares her story indicating a criminal justice system that failed to help her. She shows courage and moves through all the pain and suffering with full bravery. Miller is able to work through this experience through the therapeutic outlet of writing. 

As an AP Literature and Composition student, I was given the opportunity to attend the virtual event with Miller on Wednesday, Nov. 3. 

At first, I wasn’t completely sure that I wanted to be in the position of a topic most schools don’t even acknowledge.

But as I sat there listening to Miller talk about her challenging experience dealing with sexual assault, I found myself inspired by such a strong and powerful woman. During the trial, Miller was being interrogated with meaningless questions while they already had full evidence of what happened. It was hard for her and her family to stay silent because instead of investigating the crime that was committed the court picked her apart, and no one could object or stand up for her. She had to answer all the questions that were asked.  While reading her book I felt so much rage and hatred towards the injustice of everything and how unfairly sexual assault victims are treated. 

Seeing Miller rise up from this and show personal growth from her past and learn to accept something completely uncontrollable. She used her own traumatic experiences to speak upon it passionately to other women who can relate. 

No words can describe what Miller has been through, but listening to her words gave me hope that no survivor will ever feel the need to be silenced and every survivor will get the justice they deserve.