Chanel Miller On Sexual Assault: “The Shame Was Learned Over Time”

Chanel Miller felt ashamed after her sexual assault — but not because of the sexual assault itself. Instead, it was the online comments that caused the it. Miller, whose sexual assault was widely covered by the media in 2016, speaks out about her experience and her healing in a new clip from her forthcoming interview with Oprah Winfrey, which will air on the talk show star’s Super Soul Sunday on September 29.

Until three weeks ago, Miller was only known as Emily Doe, the anonymous woman who was sexually assaulted by then-Stanford swimmer Brock Turner in 2015. In 2016, Turner was found guilty of three felonies, including assault with intent to rape, and sentenced to six months in county jail with three years’ probation (he was later released after three months). At Turner’s trial, Miller read a 7,000-word victim impact statement that, when it was published by BuzzFeed, was read millions of times.

Earlier this month, Miller publicly revealed her identity in an interview with the New York Times. On September 24, she released a memoir, Know My Name, about her experience. In a two-hour special on this weekend’s Super Soul Sunday, Miller talks about her experience and her healing.

“Initially, I didn’t feel shame,” she tells Winfrey in the clip. “It seemed very clear to me that if someone attacks you and runs away, that’s his problem. The shame was learned over time, from the online comments.”

She continues, “Shame needs a contained space in order to grow, and since I wasn’t telling anyone, it was just festering inside me, unmonitored. As soon as I released the [victim impact] statement, then it was able to breathe. And as soon as you open it up and let it out a little, it loses so much power.”

Winfrey agrees, saying, “It can’t hide when it’s no longer a secret. The secret is what breeds and festers.” Miller responds, “Absolutely. And you begin to form these negative ideas of yourself.”

“Which are not helped by reading comments on the internet,” Winfrey adds, causing Miller to laugh and agree. 

Chanel Miller’s Super Soul Sunday episode airs Sunday, September 29 at 11 a.m. ET/PT. Her Oprah’s Super Soul Conversations podcast will be available on Wednesday, October 2.

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