American symbol of sexual violence, Chanel Miller speaks in a book

It’s 12:30 p.m. in New York this October weekend when her smiling face appears on the screen in an office lit by yellow neon lights. In a few days, Chanel Miller is flying to Paris to ensure the French promotion of her book, I have a name (Le Recherches Midi), two years after its American release. “It always amazes me to discover that people know my story halfway around the world, she wonders. While I lived it in such a lonely way… ”

“It’s been a while since I’ve allowed myself to enjoy life, since I realized what this book means to people. I feel relieved. »Channel Miller

This story, hers, begins on the evening of January 17, 2015, more than two years before #metoo. Chanel Miller, 22 at the time, a literature student at the University of California at Santa Barbara, went to a party at Stanford, one of the country’s most prestigious universities. A few hours later, she wakes up in the hospital. She doesn’t know it yet, but was raped and found unconscious behind a dumpster. Two witnesses surprised the scene : They are the ones who immobilized the aggressor and called for help.

When leaving the hospital, the student did not think of the following: “I put the memories of that morning in a large jar that I lowered far, far, far, deep inside me”, she writes in her book. Ten days later, it is the explosion: a first article appears online. Then another. And a third. Internet users are torn apart: why was she wearing a dress in the middle of winter? asks one. Why not, the temperatures are mild in California, answers another. Chanel collapses: “I found out what happened to me in the newspapers, even the name of my attacker. It was violent. As if my mind was going out of my body, I was totally dissociated. Getting lost is a strange loss. ”

Emily Doe, her double protector

In the press, to protect her identity, she becomes Emily Doe. Around her, no one knows that Chanel and Emily are one and the same. “I felt double”, she says. On the one hand, she is that young woman of ordinary days; on the other, she is becoming the symbol of rape victims on campus. Because the case is growing: his attacker, Brock Turner, 19, is an athlete “Brilliant”, “one of the best swimmers in America”, a “Record holder who participated in the Olympic selections”. Many journalists multiply the superlatives to describe the student with the trajectory now “Wasted” by this event “Tragic”.

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