There is power in a name

Illustration by Diana Ortega

In 2015, a horrific story of sexual assault swept the nation. A Stanford University student was raped outside of a party while she was unconscious. Previously referred to as Emily Doe, Chanel Miller has publicly spoken out about her story.

Miller anonymously delivered a powerful impact statement after her attack that helped give voices to survivors of sexual violence. Even though this happened four years ago, the story is still very much relevant.

This case shed light on an issue that has been going on for countless years. Victims of sexual assault are often shamed or ridiculed for what happened to them.

Victims are never to blame for their assault. More needs to be done from law enforcement to bring justice to sexual assault survivors.

Rapists deserve to be punished for their actions. Unlike other crimes, sexual assault is never an accident or unintentional.

In the Stanford rape case, the perpetrator, Brock Turner, was given a six-month sentence and served only three months when the maximum sentence was 14 years, according to The New York Times.

This is not nearly enough time. Turner deserved to serve much more for his actions. The judge on the case, Aaron Persky, supposedly didn’t want Turner’s life and career to be ruined. According to Persky, a prison sentence would have a “severe impact” on Turner, as stated by an article from The Independent.

However, there was no mention of the severe impact Turner had on Miller when he raped her. She must live with the lasting effects that sexual assault imposes for the rest of her life.

The only priority that Persky cared about was making sure Turner’s life wasn’t ruined based on a crime he knowingly committed.

Thankfully, this biased judge was recalled from his position in 2018 after losing a recall vote, as reported in the Los Angeles Times.

In this case, the evidence against him is incredibly clear, and he left with a slap on the wrist. Miller received the worst of the punishment through knowing her assaulter was only serving six months for his crime.

It is appalling that her attacker was protected by the judge. If someone makes the decision to sexually assault another person, they should pay for it. It is not that hard to understand that sexually violating a person’s boundaries is wrong and should be punishable by law.

Turner used his consumption of alcohol as the reasoning behind the assault. Clearly, being intoxicated is not a justification for committing such a horrendous offense. From the cases that I have seen, the intent to sexually assault someone exists in the mind of a morally unjust perpetrator whether or not they are drunk or sober.

This is just one case out of thousands. Everyday, situations like this happen that don’t make the news and are never shared. Victims rarely come forward out of fear of being accused of lying, or out of fear that their attacker will not be convicted with proper punishment.

The awareness that Miller brought to this subject was a wake-up call, but there still is more to be done to protect survivors and punish assaulters.

There is a stigma surrounding sexual assault that the victim is to blame because it could have been avoided by not drinking or trusting the individual. This blame should be turned around on the assaulters, and they should be expected not to physically attack people out of selfish reasons.

Miller’s open letter to her attacker went viral for her shocking and emotional words. She was a voice for other survivors. It was chilling to listen to her retell what happened. She described what many other survivors had felt and experienced.

The culture behind sexual assault allegations of viewing the survivor as responsible in any way is unacceptable. Society needs to replace this toxic mindset with an expectation of protecting the survivors who need it the most.

By revealing her name, she is reclaiming her identity. Her message to other victims of sexual assault is inspiring. She will not be known as Emily Doe, a victim. She will be known as Chanel Miller, a survivor.