Chanel Miller says her assault by Brock Turner reflects a culture of 'male sexual entitlement' that goes beyond colleges

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Chanel Miller, an author whose victim impact statement went viral following a sexual assault by Brock Turner, speaks with CNN's Alisyn Camerota about her experience of healing from trauma.

Posted: Nov 29, 2019 7:30 PM
Updated: Nov 29, 2019 7:30 PM

The woman who wrote a book about surviving a sexual assault by a Stanford University swimmer says the 2015 attack is a part of "greater patterns of male sexual entitlement playing out."

"If your son is found humping an unconscious body, it is not enough to say, 'You had a misstep in judgment.' That's not what it is," Chanel Miller told Alisyn Camerota on Friday on CNN's "New Day."

"I just want people to know that it's not happening in a vacuum, in the neat perimeter of college campuses. It is not young people being too silly and too reckless," she said. "There are greater patterns of male sexual entitlement playing out."

Miller's 2019 memoir, "Know My Name," chronicles the events following her sexual assault by Turner around 1 a.m. behind a dumpster near an on-campus fraternity. He might have gotten away with it if not for two bicyclists who saw him on top of Miller, who was unconscious, and intervened. She was 22 at the time.

During Turner's trial, his father defended his son by blaming the culture of alcohol consumption and partying on college campuses.

In the courtroom, Miller constantly was reminded that she had no memory of the attack because she had passed out, she said Friday. The needling reality lent to a sense of powerlessness.

"I had learned that I had nothing to offer," she said. "I felt like my testimony was constantly useless."

Turner was found guilty on three felony counts -- intent to commit rape of an intoxicated/unconscious person, penetration of an intoxicated person and penetration of an unconscious person. He was sentenced to six months in jail but was released after three months.

Reacting to the sentence, "I was embarrassed for trying, for being led to believe I had any influence," Miller wrote anonymously for Glamour magazine in the months after the punishment was decreed.

Writing a book and revealing her identity publicly became an exercise for Miller to "humanize myself," she told CNN.

"Only when the book was completed was I at peace with the idea that I could emerge, that I could be seen as a writer -- not only his victim," she said.

Even before the book's release, Miller's story had made a profound impact. Some 11 million people read the victim impact statement she authorized BuzzFeed to publish without naming her. The case also spurred a change in California's sentencing law, a hard alcohol ban at Stanford and the ouster of Judge Aaron Persky.

Miller lives in San Francisco and holds a degree in literature from the University of California, Santa Barbara.

"People have laid out so many options for me, so many futures to grow into," she said. "I was so worried that the assault would overshadow who I was, that no one would allow my identity to be seen or that even if I revealed myself, they would say, 'We don't care.'

"But that's so far from the truth," she said. "I've been so embraced, and people have so valued my safety and my voice and my creativity. Witnessing that has restored faith in humanity."

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