If you watched 60 minutes on Sunday, September 22, 2019, then you will know that Chanel Miller is a very brave, courageous, well-spoken, and inspirational young lady. She was central to a case where a college boy sought to sexually assault her after a night of drinking at a party. Chanel has penned a book, “Know My Name,” and in it described her experience from the assault to the miscarriage of justice that she witnessed in the courtroom.
My heart went out to her as I watched the courtroom drama unfold. She was interrupted, statements shaped into answers they wanted and, in the end, her time on the stand was both frustrating and victim shaming. It reminded me of my own testimony against Charles “Jack” Walls III, at the victim impact hearing, when my rapist’s attorney asked how long I had been a homosexual (pg. 22). Jack had been a Boy Scout Leader and involved in Scouting for over 30 years, and in that time molested hundreds of boys that he plied with drink on his family’s secluded farm. In all that time, the elected officials in Lonoke failed to investigate, arrest, or bring one of Arkansas’s most prolific pedophiles to justice. Jack’s father, Judge Walls, had been a powerful judge in Arkansas, and he had groomed, promoted, and guided the political careers of many that still hold such positions.
Chanel refused to be ignored, shared her testimony online, and her words became the rallying cry of so many whose names are never spoken.
If you are one of those that have endured abuse, assault, molestation, or rape, then I encourage you to speak out in a way that frees you to heal as Chanel has. Each of us survivors has a story to tell, a part of the solution to a moral problem, and those that have not been hurt need to know how to protect and confront what they may face.
We begin by knowing one another’s name, allowing those names to inspire and empower, and instead of being imprisoned by the anger find healing in using the pain to enable change. I applaud Chanel for bravely sharing her story, and as my own case unfolds pray that I, too, can help people know my name.