Our VOICE, Buncombe County’s rape crisis and prevention center, will host bestselling author Chanel Miller on Thursday, March 11, at 6:30 p.m. as part of the fourth annual Break the Silence Speaker Series. The event will take place virtually via Crowdcast as well as in person at A-B Tech Mission Health Conference Center with a limited audience as determined by the governor’s current health and safety guidelines.
“The Break the Silence Speaker Series began as a way for us to help educate the community about sexual assault and to break the stigma of speaking the truth,” says event chair Pam Siekman. “In 2021, because we have Chanel Miller as our speaker, we are reaching out in particular to universities, high schools, faculty, parents, guardians and grandparents of students to join us for this event.”
Miller, the survivor of a highly publicized rape case at Stanford University, has inspired millions and changed the way society talks about sexual assault. As Emily Doe, her victim impact statement, published with permission on BuzzFeed News, went viral with 11 million people viewing it in just four days. Her perpetrator received a six-month sentence, of which he served three months. Her story inspired changes in California law and the recall of the judge in the case.
“Miller continues to use her voice as an agent of change and has dedicated her life and her art to advocating for survivors,” says Siekman. “She leverages her experience to influence policy, particularly campus regulations and Title IX support.”
In her 2019 memoir, Know My Name, Miller went public with her story, winning awards including the National Book Critics Circle Award for autobiography, the Dayton Literary Peace Prize, the Ridenhour Book Prize and the California Book Award. The book was a New York Times bestseller and a New York Times Book Review Notable Book. Miller was named one of Forbes 30 Under 30 and a Time Next 100 honoree, and was a Glamour Woman of the Year honoree under her pseudonym Emily Doe.
“Chanel Miller is an icon for survivors of sexual assault,” says Siekman. “Her story is known around the world, and we are so excited to have her as our speaker this spring.”
The Break the Silence Speaker Series is Our VOICE’s largest fundraising event of the year. The series highlights the voice of a national leader, activist or survivor who has worked to improve systems in responding to and ending sexual assault or human trafficking.
“The community is thirsty for knowledge,” says Our VOICE executive director Angélica Wind. “More importantly, survivors have expressed how this event has created opportunities for connection with other survivors and a community that underscores that they are not alone.”
The funds raised from the event help support programs such as free counseling services for survivors, prevention education for every middle- and high-school student in Buncombe County, access for survivors to rape kits and supplies at hospitals, and training for crisis response volunteers to answer the 24-hour crisis hotline.
Tickets are $25 each, $10 for students. For more information about sponsorship opportunities or to purchase tickets, visit OurVOICENC.org/bts.