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Sexual assault activist Chanel Miller finally collects Woman of the Year award - as herself

Former Stanford University student Brock Turner sexually assaulted Chanel Miller in 2015. She's finally come out of the shadows to her rightfully-earned place in the limelight.

Sexual assault activist Chanel Miller finally collects Woman of the Year award - as herself

Trigger Warning: Sexual Assault

In 2016, Chanel Miller was recognized as one of Glamour’s Women of the Year. However, she watched from the sidelines as someone else accepted the award on her behalf. Because she was known only as Emily Doe - the woman who former Stanford University student Brock Turner had violently raped and gotten away with the year prior. Her presence at the 2016 event was unknown even to the magazine organizing it. This year, she was once again recognized as a Glamour Woman of the Year. Therefore, when she personally collected the award as herself, it was undoubtedly a momentous occasion, The Washington Post reports.


She appeared at the awards ceremony wearing a bright yellow gown and smiled as she recited a powerful poem about sexual assault titled I Don't Give a Damn. She told the audience at New York City's Lincoln Center, "The only reason I am standing here is [that] people gave a damn about my well-being, even when I did not. They reminded me that I carry light and I deserve to be loved. Even when I forgot." In her poem, she supported other survivors of sexual assault and called for an end to the shame that victims often face following their experiences. Miller also decried the “stupid questions” meant to shift responsibility from the assaulter to the victim. "Tonight you must come away knowing that I will always, always give a damn about you," she reassured. "The way you gave a damn about me."


Miller's story of assault is now infamous in the way it portrays how pervasive and unforgiving rape culture is when it comes to survivors of sexual assault, particularly when those victims are women. In January 2015, she woke up drowsy in a hospital room after being assaulted beside a dumpster outside of a fraternity house. She only discovered what had happened to her that night months later, when she read about her experience in the news. When her case finally went to court, Turner was awarded a highly-criticized six months in jail. Activists believed the punishment was far too lenient for the terrible crime he had committed.


During a court hearing, Miller went on to make a speech that Glamour Magazine said would turn her into "a real-life hero to sexual assault survivors and justice-seekers everywhere." She affirmed at the time, "You don’t know me, but you’ve been inside me. And that's why we're here today." Though her words became a rallying cry for all survivors, she remained anonymous. Until the release of her memoir Know My Name. She described going public for the first time as "cathartic." "To be able to discuss it openly is so freeing, and it’s also less scary," she said. "It doesn’t overshadow everything anymore." Now that she has entered the public realm and allowed her story to strengthen and energize other victims, Miller has become an icon of resilience.


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