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How Chanel Miller Went Public as ‘Emily Doe’

December 11, 2019, 5:53 AM UTC

Since 2015, Chanel Miller has been known to the world as “Emily Doe,” the sexual assault survivor at the center of the Stanford University Brock Turner sexual assault case. Now the author of Know My Name is telling her story under her own name—and has come to terms with who “Emily Doe” is.

“Emily Doe has evolved for me over the years,” Miller said onstage in her first public interview at Fortune‘s Most Powerful Women Next Gen conference in Laguna Niguel, Calif. on Tuesday. “In the beginning, she was a separate identity who I didn’t want to affiliate myself with.” After she started hearing from people who were inspired by her viral victim impact statement, which she read in court, Miller says she learned to “absorb these compliments and become these things and really believe it for myself. That’s who Emily Doe became.”

After revealing her identity in September, Miller is now giving herself—and others—a voice. Her memoir Know My Name details the 2015 sexual assault by Turner, which saw national news coverage largely focusing on Turner’s history as an athlete and his point of view; Miller, as she protected her identity, was unable to share her perspective outside of what happened in court. Miller said that she was generally quiet and shy but, through the experience of the past four years, has gained the confidence to take a conference stage.

Miller was nervous to come forward under her own name, largely out of concern for her privacy and safety. But she said the feeling of being alone—unable to share her experience or interact with others about it—was a key factor in taking the leap.

“Keeping a secret can be really isolating, especially when 18 million people can discuss your secret but you can’t,” Miller said. “I felt like I was changing, I was on this whole transformative narrative arc, and the way people perceive me felt outdated—like they were identifying with my past self.”

Miller still has boundaries: no public book tour, limited speaking engagements. “There’s no timeline,” she says.

But making the decision to reveal her name, her personality, and her perspective has been worth it. “I don’t want to write a book that’s very bound up,” she says. “I had to teach myself over time that I didn’t have to be ashamed of my past life experiences—I owed it to other survivors to include everything.”

More must-read stories from Fortune’s MPW Next Gen Summit:

—Goldman Sachs removed one word from recruiting materials and female hires soared
—The “blameless post mortem” and other techniques that spur innovation
Career pivots are daunting. Here’s how three powerful women made them work
Five tips for giving the perfect pitch, according to experts
—Exclusive: Enterprise scion Chrissy Taylor to become car rental giant’s CEO
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