59 pages 1 hour read

Chanel Miller

Know My Name: A Memoir

Nonfiction | Autobiography / Memoir | Adult | Published in 2019

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Summary and Study Guide


Published in 2019, Chanel Miller’s Know My Name: A Memoir is her first book. A harrowing account of surviving rape and reclaiming identity, Miller’s memoir documents her 2015 rape at Stanford University and its aftermath. A New York Times bestselling author, Miller provides a raw yet hopeful examination of sexual assault. Through the intersections of gender, race, and class, Miller, who is Chinese American, explores society’s treatment of survivors. Ultimately, Miller offers a hopeful journey of healing through vulnerability, community, and action.

Content Warning: The memoir and this guide contain discussions of rape and sexual assault.


Miller’s Introduction presents the details of her case and states the purpose of Miller’s memoir: to tell her truth and provide hope through her story of survival and empowerment. She introduces herself to her audience and the world by sharing her name openly for the first time, explaining its origin and meaning as an homage to her Chinese roots.

Miller begins her story with an in-depth look into her personality as a shy, empathetic woman who strives to keep the peace. A 22-year-old recent graduate from the University of California, Santa Barbara, Miller works at an educational start-up. She details the events of the January 2015 evening leading up to her sexual assault. She socializes with her younger sister Tiffany, who is visiting home from college, and her friends. The women drink and invite Miller to join them at a fraternity party at Stanford University. Miller’s mother drops the women off at Stanford, where they continue to party. Miller grows increasingly intoxicated and blacks out.

Disoriented and confused, Miller wakes up in the hospital surrounded by a police officer and a Stanford dean who inform her that she may be a victim of sexual assault. She is escorted to a rape clinic at the hospital, where she undergoes lengthy and invasive examinations for hours. She meets with Detective Mike Kim and struggles to remember the events of the evening. She calls her sister, who comes to pick her up and explains to the detective that an aggressive blonde man had been harassing her (Tiffany) throughout the night.

Still confused, the sisters return home and decide not to tell their parents about what happened so as not to worry them. Miller retrieves her phone from the police station and learns that two Swedish graduate students interrupted Miller’s potential sexual assault and apprehended the fleeing assailant. Miller agrees to press charges.

Miller attempts to move on with her life. Tiffany is called to the police station to identify the aggressive blonde man from the night before. Miller later reads about the man, Brock Turner, in the paper; this is also where she learns the graphic details of her assault. Miller receives a call from Deputy District Attorney Alaleh, who informs Miller that her identity will be protected under anonymity as Emily Doe, but that her sister’s will not. After reading a negative comment blaming her for the assault, Miller decides to push any thoughts about the case out of her mind. Later that evening, she tells her parents about the assault and is overwhelmed with emotion for the first time since learning about it.

As Miller continues to struggle with her emotions and work, she meets with Alaleh for the first time and is advised to be on her best behavior. Her boyfriend Lucas comes to visit from Philadelphia, where he attends graduate school, and she tells him about the assault. A backlog of rape kits delays the processing of Miller’s, but Turner is eventually charged with three counts of felony assault. The hearing date is set but soon delayed. Meanwhile, Miller applies and is accepted into a printmaking class at the Rhode Island School of Design.

Miller quits her job and arrives in Rhode Island. She struggles with insomnia and distracts herself by committing to long hours making art. She grows increasingly aware of the relentless harassment she endures on her walks to and from the school and aggressively confronts the men who approach her. During the summer, she socializes and begins to feel more empowered.

In the fall, she moves to Philadelphia with Lucas and awaits the finalized hearing date. After exploding at Lucas in a fit of rage, Miller agrees to begin attending therapy. She returns to California for the hearing and testifies, becoming inconsolable when detailing the events of that evening. Despite her emotional breakdown, Miller feels stronger after the hearing. However, she falls into a depression after reading negative comments about her in the newspaper.

Miller returns to Philadelphia and joins a comedy club. She is selected to perform in a comedy show and is lauded for her performance, but she still feels lost after the show’s preparations end. She attends a presentation led by a sexual assault survivors’ advocate and feels a renewed sense of purpose. Lucas and Miller vacation in Indonesia, where she learns how to scuba dive and, in the process, experiences a connection to her body that she has not felt since the assault.

The trial begins in March 2016. Miller returns to California to testify. She witnesses the defense’s tactics to call her character into question. The jury reaches a verdict within two days, finding Turner guilty on all three counts.

Miller returns to Philadelphia for the two months before the sentencing. She procrastinates writing the victim impact statement that Alaleh has requested. However, after learning that a probation officer has recommended no prison time for Turner, Miller writes furiously, composing a 28-page statement.

In California, Miller reads her statement at the sentencing. The judge issues a lenient sentence of only six months in county jail, which Alaleh explains will mean Turner serves only three months with good behavior. Miller agrees to release her victim impact statement on BuzzFeed. The statement goes viral and amasses millions of views in one day. Overwhelmed by the support, an otherwise dejected Miller feels inspired by the community of survivors who connected with her words.

Miller moves to San Francisco with Lucas and begins to write her memoir. She still struggles with the aftermath of her rape but continues to work towards healing. She fosters senior rescue dogs and adopts one of her own named Mogu.

Miller learns that Turner has filed an appeal. Two days before Turner’s release, Stanford offers her an apology and $150,000 to cover her therapy costs. In return, Miller must agree not to pursue legal action against the university. Miller attempts to negotiate and asks for changes to be made to the campus. She eventually accepts the money to help her family. Stanford begins building a garden at the location of Miller’s assault. They invite her to choose a quote for a plaque in the garden but reject Miller’s suggestions when she refuses to offer an unrealistically optimistic view of what it means to be a survivor. The plaque is never completed.

In her final chapter, Miller reflects on writing her memoir. Throughout the process, Miller experiences healing that teaches her how to confront her negative and overwhelming emotions rather than avoid them. Judge Persky, the judge who ruled over her case, is recalled in the next local election by 62% of the vote. The work of the volunteers who orchestrated this campaign inspires Miller. Dr. Christine Ford testifies in front of the Senate Judiciary Committee as a survivor of sexual assault at the hands of future Justice Brett Kavanaugh. Miller admires Dr. Ford’s incredible bravery and sees how Dr. Ford’s courageous actions will inspire other survivors to come forward. Miller directly addresses her fellow survivors in the last pages and encourages them to continue fighting for survival and healing.