What we can learn from Chanel Miller

Justice is rarely served for rape victims in America, with many perpetrators serving only a few months in jail or escaping punishment altogether. There is no doubt that most victims keep their stories to themselves in fear of losing the case, being the subject of victim blaming or reliving the trauma all over again. A lot of feelings can suffocate a victim in such a time of questionable self-worth. Society, and in turn the law, becomes ruthlessly inconsiderate to victims as it is to women who face any type of sexual abuse.

In the case of now 26-year-old Chanel Miller, a rape survivor who attended Stanford University alongside her attacker, it’s understandable as to why she waited so long to have her identity revealed.

It is believed that Miller finalized her decision in revealing her identity mainly due to understandably difficult self-coping issues. According to CNN, she says in her 12-page impact statement post that coming out as the victim after the attack left her angry, self-deprecating and empty.

“I had multiple swabs inserted into my vagina and anus, needles for shots, pills, had a Nikon pointed right into my spread legs…” said Miller. She continues to describe her mortifying experience in a manner that justifies her hesitation to come out to the public. The procedures that follow victims after they report their assault to the authorities is quite invasive. Even though that type of probing of your body must feel traumatic, it is brave to let people be aware of its realities.

Overcoming the fears and troublesome emotions caused by rape is one of the most challenging periods in a survivor’s life. How a victim took such a horrific moment in her life and healed to a point where we now know her as Chanel Miller is empowering and encouraging. Not only has she regained confidence and is actively taking back control of her life, but Miller also penned a memoir of the incident and her strife with all that came with it.

Rape is an evil thing that affects the entire world. Victims can be elderly or juvenile, suffering forms of assault such as molestation, sexual abuse, and rape. What makes it worse is that justice isn’t always served in these cases. Sometimes the perpetrators aren’t caught or jailed, and even when they do serve time, their sentences are often light. Many times, the victims suffer more than those who hurt them. But with her story and the unveiling of her identity, Chanel Miller teaches that justice can be served when you take control of your narrative and start the journey of healing.

Rachelle Barrett is a junior majoring in political science and broadcast journalism.