A Sexual Assault Survivor’s Reflections on the Ford / Kavanaugh Hearings
It was only two years ago that the Christine Blasey Ford vs. Brett Kavanaugh hearings took place. It’s a time I’ll never forget, and though most of us are focused on the shitshow 2020 presidential debate between Biden and Trump, those hearings are more relevant now than ever before.
With the death of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, and the ultra-conservative Amy Coney Barret on the brink of taking her place and undoing all the progress Ginsburg made for women, Kavanaugh’s seat on the supreme court should be strongly scrutinized. Should this man be holding the position he has? The answer is a firm, “No” for me. He should be removed and replaced.
As a rape survivor, looking back on the Brett Kavanaugh sexual assault hearings is particularly enraging. Over the last two years, I’ve reflected on what took place during those hearings many times. As a result, I’ve had many revelations about my own sexual assault, how it was handled, and why what played out on the Senate floor that day is particularly horrific.
Me, Christine & Memories That Want to Stay Lost
Like Christine Blasey Ford, my sexual assault took place during my adolescent years. Like Christine Blasey Ford, I was at a party where alcohol was being served and ingested by minors. And most importantly, like Christine Blasey Ford, I’ve come to realize that seemingly “big important” details of what happened the night I was raped have been forgotten or remembered incorrectly.
Republican senators and trump himself disguised their glee with the pretense of outrage when Ford admitted that she couldn’t remember what they decided were the most important details of her assault:
Ford was unsure about:
- Exactly where the assault took place
- The exact date (including year)
- Exactly how old she was
- How she got home.
Lindsey Graham and Kavanaugh himself used these “holes” in Ford’s memory as an opportunity to red-in-the-face rage on the Senate floor in Kavanaugh’s defense. And trump mocked Ford’s lack of memory, which is no real surprise coming from a man who has made sexually assaulting girls and women in a multitude of ways his favorite pastime. But what broke me was that everyday people used her inability recall some details of that traumatic night to tear Ford down and call her a liar– even as psychologist after psychiatrist came to her defense to explain how trauma affects memories. And not all of these folks were Republicans.
This reaction shook me. For days I was on edge. I cried. I yelled. My anxiety raged, and insomnia took over my nights. Two years later, the reason for my reaction is crystal clear.
Things Forgotten Return
It took me a very, very long time to call what happened to me rape. When I was finally able to put a word to what happened, just forming the word so that I could speak it was a challenge. The way the “r” and the “p” fit in between my lips made me feel like I was choking on a mouthful of marbles. And when I finally said it: “I was raped.” It felt like a lie.
I don’t know how to explain this to you. It’s difficult to explain why what I so clearly knew to be true felt like a lie when I said the words aloud. Well, it was difficult to explain until now, thanks to Christine Blasey Ford.
Like Christine, I also have/had holes in my memory of what happened to me the night I was raped.
Christine was about 15 when she was sexually assaulted by Brett Kavanaugh. Her inability to remember her exact age or the grade she was in was one the Republican Senators’ favorite stick-it-to-her points. So imagine my surprise when I sat myself down, about a year after the Ford/Kavanaugh hearings, and walked myself back through my own rape timeline only to discover I had been wrong about my age the whole time.
You see, I have been telling people that I was raped when I was 13 years old. But when I walked back through the timeline around those events, I realized that my assault had taken place after my 14th birthday. For 20 plus years, I’ve remembered my age at the time of my rape incorrectly.
Additionally, I have no idea what street I was on. I believe I was in an apartment, but I only clearly remember one room of the residence I was in: the room I was raped in.
Other details I can’t recall:
- How I got to the party
- Who was in attendance other than the one friend I was with
- The ride home
- The details of my rapist’s face
What Survivors of Sexual Assault DO Remember
Ford recalls laughter. She recalls a hand pressed so hard against her mouth she thought she might accidentally be killed while being laughed at by Kavanaugh and other boys in the room.
I recall the sound of my head striking the bathtub over and over and mocking sound in the voice of my assailant when he said goodbye and told me to “be a good girl” as I left.
And both Ford and I clearly recall who assaulted us.
Some things, you just don’t forget.
The Kavanaugh Hearings: Never Forget.
Throughout the trump presidency we’ve seen too many atrocities normalized as our country barrels toward fascism. The handling of the Ford / Kavanaugh Sexual assault Senate hearings is one of those atrocities.
Ford’s assault never went to a real court. But the Senate hearings showed us exactly how that would have played out if it had. They also sent a loud and clear message to all women who have been sexually assaulted: We won’t believe you.
Like my rapist, Kavanaugh never had to sit in court or come before a judge for questioning. Instead he became the judge. He became the judge who can rage in the face of the woman accusing him of sexual assault and not only keep his job but be promoted.
Kavanaugh raged his whole way to the Supreme Court, where he will now most likely sit for the rest of his life. And he is soon to sit next to another Justice who believes women shouldn’t have the right to determine what happens in their own bodies.
For me, the greatest horror of those Senate hearings (of which there are so many) is the message it sends to women and the story it continues to tell of the American justice system. Our Justice system has been hijacked by misogynistic, white nationalists who will allow women to be assaulted and Black people to be killed without penalty. The highest ranks of our government are controlled by white men who can do whatever the fuck they want and never be held accountable.
This anniversary is a reminder that it is more important now than ever before for us to be brave like Christine Blasey Ford.
Men who assault women shouldn’t hold a seat in the U.S. Supreme Court. Men who assault women shouldn’t be able to be president.
It’s time to stop the normalization of criminals running our government. It’s time to take a stand and remove them.