Christine Blasey Ford, research psychologist and professor at Palo Alto University, came forward with an allegation accusing Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh of sexually assaulting her more than 30 years ago. Since coming forward, Ford has received online and telephone death threats, had her email hacked and was forced to move out of her home since her decision to speak up on Sept. 18.
People have discredited Ford for coming forward with this allegation in the midst of Kavanaugh’s confirmation hearings.
It is this type of treatment of sexual assault victims that keeps two-thirds of them from ever reporting this violent crime against them.
Those who come forward, with the kind of bravery and dignity shown by Ford – in times of great distress – should be honored, and treated with respect and dignity.
Ford did not report the crime when it first happened. Most victims of sexual assault who do report the crime delay reporting it.
According to the National Sexual Violence Resource Center, rape is the most under-reported crime and 63 percent of sexual assaults are never reported to police.
In a letter sent to Sen. Dianne Feinstein on July 30, Ford wrote: “It is upsetting to discuss sexual assault and its repercussions, yet I felt guilty and compelled as a citizen about the idea of not saying anything.” Making these accusations toward men who hold power make it an even more daunting and consequential for women to come forward.
In the letter, she states Kavanaugh sexually and physically assaulted her at a high school party in a Maryland home.
“Kavanaugh physically pushed me into a bedroom as I was headed for a bathroom up a short stairwell from the living room. They locked the door and played loud music precluding any successful attempt to yell for help,” Ford said.
Ford describes Kavanaugh pushing her onto a bed while trying to undress her. Ford said she has received medical treatment since the encounter and even took a polygraph test over the summer to prepare herself for those who would discredit her accusations.
Without consulting Ford directly, the Senate Judiciary Committee made a public announcement asking Ford to testify requiring the attention to fall right on her in an utmost public arena. Ford requested an FBI investigation take place first, but agreed to testify Thursday in front of the Senate Judiciary Committee stating her fear will not hold her back from testifying.
Ford’s testimony was conducted in a poised and clear manner that resembled the contents in her letter sent to Sen. Feinstein. She not only handled each question with certainty, but she also carried herself eloquently in a situation she was not even inclined to participate in.
Ford has suffered from post-traumatic stress syndrome and anxiety since this incident and has sought therapy. Women are almost always labeled as attention seekers in situations like this and do not receive empathetic responses from outsiders.
Another accuser, this time a former Yale University classmate of Kavanaugh is coming forward with her own experience alleging Kavanaugh of sexually assaulting her at a party 35 years ago. Deborah Ramirez states Kavanaugh thrusted his penis in her face causing her to touch it without her consent.
The responses these allegations have elicited from those in power, is sending the message to those who have been victimized that it is better to remain silent and accept that another person has invaded their personal space. We need to stop portraying sexual assault victims as the ones who are at fault and instead start understanding the scope of damage they have incurred physically and mentally.