Chanel Miller's animated short shows exactly what sexual assault survivors go through

When Chanel Miller accused Brock Turner of sexual assault, she was Emily Doe. Now, she's boldly Chanel Miller, using her name and experience to let survivors of assault know they are not alone. Miller recently came out with a five-minute animated short entitled "I Am With You." The short packs a punch, reminding survivors that they're more than what happened to them. "Nobody wants to be defined by the worst thing that's happened to them," she says in the film. The short was shared on the Viking Books YouTube page.



I Am With You - Chanel Miller youtu.be


At 22, Miller was sexually assaulted by Turner behind a dumpster at Stanford University while she was unconscious. After Miller read her 12-page impact statement to Turner in court, she released it online and it went viral. "When I released the statement, something else happened. The world breathed life into my words," she says in the film. "I spent all this time absorbing, absorbing, listening to their voices until I understood. Chanel knows how you get in blackouts. But Chanel also knows how to write, how to draw."


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While writing her memoir, Know My Name, Miller took breaks to draw, then turned those drawings into this powerful film. We finally see side of Miller we didn't read about in the coverage of the trial. "When you are assaulted, an identity is given to you. It threatens to swallow up everything you plan to do and be. I became Emily Doe," Miller says in a voice-over as animations drawn by her appear on screen. "Assault teaches you to shrink, makes you afraid to exist. Shame, really, can kill you."



The film includes the message that survivors shouldn't have to be bound to their trauma. "Survivors will not be boxed in, oppressed. We've had enough — enough of the shame, the disbelief, the loneliness," she says.

RELATED: Author uses a brutally honest analogy to help other men understand how our culture enables sexual assault.

Miller ends the film with a simple, yet powerful sentiment. ""No one gets to define you. You do. You do. My name is Chanel and I am with you," she says, extending the support she received to others.

Miller wasn't alone while creating the short film, either. "The film crew that worked on this piece was almost all women. Feeling their support and creating together was immensely healing," Miller wrote in a statement. "We should all be creating space for survivors to speak their truths and express themselves freely. When society nourishes instead of blames, books are written, art is made, and the world is a little better for it."

It's inspiring to see Miller write her own story, instead of being defined by the one that was given to her. Nobody can truly take away who you are. It's important to hear reminders of that. You get to say who you are, not the person who harmed you.

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My initial reaction to the first episode was meh. The characters were annoying and the premise was weird (pretentious and previously-filthy-rich family lives in a scuzzy motel in the middle of nowhere??). I felt nothing for the main characters, and I hate shows with horrible main characters that I can't root for. Even predicting that they were going to eventually be transformed by their small town experiences, I didn't see liking them. It didn't grab either of us as worth continuing, so we stopped.

But then I kept hearing people whose taste I trust implicitly talk about how great it was. I know different people have different tastes, but I realized I had to be missing something if these friends of mine raved on and on about it. So we gave it another shot.

It took a bit—I don't know how many episodes exactly, but a bit—to start liking it. Then a bit longer to start really liking it, and then at some point, it became a full-fledged, gushy, where-have-you-been-all-my-life love affair.

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People have big feelings about abortion, which is understandable. On one hand, you have people who feel that abortion is a fundamental women’s rights issue, that our bodily autonomy is not something you can legislate, and that those who oppose abortion rights are trying to control women through oppressive legislation. On the other, you have folks who believe that a fetus is a human individual first and foremost, that no one has the right to terminate a human life, and that those who support abortion rights are heartless murderers.

Then there are those of us in the messy middle. Those who believe that life begins at conception, that abortion isn’t something we’d choose—and we’d hope others wouldn’t choose—under most circumstances, yet who choose to vote to keep abortion legal.

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It also helps when someone upends a stereotype by saying or doing something unexpected.

Fair or not, certain parts of the U.S. are associated with certain cultural assumptions, perhaps none more pinholed than the rural south. When we hear Appalachia, a certain stereotype probably pops up in our minds—probably white, probably not well educated, probably racist. Even if there is some basis to a stereotype, we must always remember that human beings can never be painted with such broad strokes.

Enter Tyler Childers, a rising country music star whose old-school country fiddling has endeared him to a broad audience, but his new album may have a different kind of reach. "Long Violent History" was released Friday, along with a video message to his white rural fans explaining the culminating track by the same name. Watch it here:

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