On this coming Thursday, Christine Blasey Ford is set to testify before the Senate Judiciary Committee about her allegation of sexual assault against Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh. With the support of the #METOO movement, more and more women are coming forward to face an uncomfortable and shameful past. Despite the actual death threats, Ford understands the importance of Senators hearing directly from her concerning the sexual assault committed against her.
While many people feel differently about this, there is the mental duress to take into consideration. When discussing the psychological aspects of this situation Dr. Kathryn Smerling, a collaborative and dynamic psychotherapist who specializes in creating healthy and meaningful relationships, said:
I think this is a pivotal moment. There are many women (myself included) who were taken advantage of in their teens and twenties and it was not discussed back then. It is important to bring this conversation to the forefront, there are many successful women who endured abuse and humiliation.
Flashbulb memories can often be fuzzy. I do believe that something traumatic happened to her but it may have taken her years to recover it. She does deserve to be heard, just as Anita Hill was in the confirmation hearings of Justice Thomas. It is all part of this rigorous process. To me it sounds like a case of PTSD where you remember the main event; often years later and forget or are foggy with the details. Also, one cannot forget the context. There is so much shame about forcible sexual moves. And fear.
There is no statute of limitations for investigating allegations. Ford has reluctantly come forward at this time, and these new allegations must be investigated, even if they were not part of Judge Kavanaugh’s previous background reports.
Forging ahead with a hearing without allowing the FBI an opportunity to conduct additional interviews and collect evidence would be yet another abuse of power by the Republican majority during the Kavanaugh confirmation process. The Senate must honor survivors of sexual assault by taking their allegations seriously, respectfully, and on a nonpartisan basis. An FBI investigation is an important step in that direction. As Senator Hatch noted in 1991 when the FBI conducted an investigation into Anita Hill’s allegations: “When they heard about this the first time, they immediately ordered the FBI investigation, which was the very right thing to do.” It is the right thing to do today as well.
Ford’s critics, including President Trump, have questioned why she took so long to make the allegations public. Unfortunately, it is actually quite common for survivors of sexual assault to internalize their trauma. Far too often the ramifications, especially when the assailants are powerful men, are harsh. Victims are not believed and their claims are dismissed as lies. Even in the workplace, the risk of retaliation is often a huge factor in the decision to come forward.
While some are vilifying Ford for sharing her story, many have championed her efforts. People For the American Way Vice President for Communications and Research, Drew Courtney, issued the following statement:
We absolutely stand behind Dr. Blasey Ford and her entirely reasonable request that there be a thorough and fair investigation before she testifies before the Senate Judiciary Committee. Dr. Blasey Ford is asking for the bare minimum of decency and respect that we owe all survivors. Senator Grassley’s refusal to set a fair bipartisan process shows his complete and utter disregard not just for Dr. Blasey Ford, but for the Supreme Court. No one has a right to a lifetime seat on our nation’s highest court, and senators have a responsibility to ensure that nominees meet the very highest standards. It’s profoundly disturbing to see Republicans working so hard to shirk that responsibility.
As it stands, Ford is set to testify on Thursday, September 27, 2018. She knows one woman cannot change the system, but she is also aware of the importance of allowing her story to be told in her own words. Unfortunately, most already know this is a fixed fight. They will do what they always do — protect the status quo and the white male. Regardless of the end result, it takes a lot of courage to face the United States Senate and as such, Ford is already a winner in the eyes of survivors across the globe.
By Cherese Jackson (Virginia)
People For the American Way: Drew Courtney
Baltimore Sun: Why no fairness for Christine Blasey Ford?
Dr. Kathryn Smerling: Statement
All Images Courtesy of U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit – Wikimedia Creative Commons License