Stanford Sex-Assault Survivor Chanel Miller Describes Meeting Swedish Heroes Who Stopped Attack
Chanel Miller has no memory of being sexually assaulted, but she’ll always remember the men who stopped the attack.
Miller was unconscious on Jan. 18, 2015, when Stanford University freshman Brock Turner attacked her outside a fraternity party. While the crime was in progress, Peter Jonsson and Carl-Fredrik Arndt, two grad students from Sweden, happened upon the scene on their bikes. When Turner tried to flee, the men tackled him and restrained him until police arrived.
In early September, the same month she publicly revealed her name, Miller met the two men while filming a segment for CBS’ 60 Minutes.
“The night when the worst thing happened to me was the same night something miraculous happened,” she tells PEOPLE, describing the students’ heroism.
“They’re so sweet,” Miller adds. “And when 60 Minutes asked them how it felt to meet me, they said it was like meeting family, which was extremely touching.”
Miller was previously known as “Emily Doe.” She revealed her name while announcing her debut book, Know My Name, which came out Tuesday. The memoir discusses Miller’s journey to recover the self-esteem stolen by Turner, who was convicted of three felony counts of sexual assault.
PEOPLE has an exclusive video written and illustrated by Miller, which appears at the top of this post. An exclusive excerpt from the book also appears in this week’s issue of PEOPLE.
Miller tells PEOPLE, “While writing Know My Name, I was constantly drawing as a way of letting my mind breathe, reminding myself that life is playful and imaginative. We all deserve a chance to define ourselves, shape our identities, and tell our stories. The film crew that worked on this piece was almost all women. Feeling their support and creating together was immensely healing. 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.”
Miller says that unbeknownst to her, Jonsson and Arndt showed up throughout the protracted court case.
“Even though I never saw them, I learned that when I was in the waiting room, they were down the hall,” she says. “Or when I was in the courtroom, they were across the street at the nearby Starbucks.”
She adds, “When I look back at these memories, I feel cold and isolated, [but] I learn that they were never that far away, and it adds this layer of warmth to everything.”
• To read an exclusive excerpt of Chanel Miller’s book Know My Name, subscribe now to PEOPLE or pick up this week’s issue, on newsstands Friday.
Before Turner’s sentencing, Miller read a powerful letter to him that was widely praised as a critique of rape culture and is seen as a precursor to the #MeToo movement.
Prosecutors asked for Turner to spend six years behind bars and Miller was confident he would serve at least two years. But Judge Aaron Persky sentenced him to just six months, citing the “severe impact” a long sentence would have on him. He was released after three months.
The lenient sentence was profoundly disillusioning for Miller. But alongside her disappointment, she has kept in mind the inspiring example of Jonsson and Arndt.
“I can’t tell the bad half of the story without telling the wonderful part of the story,” she says.
To remind herself of what they did, Miller keeps a drawing of two bicycles. Those drawings, she says, are “solid proof, like a concrete image that I could hold onto reminding me there will always be good in the world. There are people who are trying to help you, people who want to do the right thing.”