I have no doubt that, if the attack on Dr. Ford was as bad as she says, charges would have been immediately filed with local Law Enforcement Authorities by either her or her loving parents. I ask that she bring those filings forward so that we can learn date, time, and place!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 21, 2018
Sex & Gender
#whyididntreport gives voice to sexual assault victims
September 25, 2018
Brett Kavanaugh’s Supreme Court nomination process has been mired by controversy above and beyond the obvious ire of the judge being a Trump pick. The process has been overtaken by Dr. Christine Blasey Ford’s explosive allegations that Kavanaugh sexually assaulted her three decades ago —and a second set of allegations by Deborah Ramirez, from her time as Kavanaugh’s classmate at Yale University, published in The New Yorker. One response to the allegations was the usual chorus of doubt and denial, with Trump himself coming to Kavanaugh’s defense in a tweet that questioned Ford’s motives by asking why she and her parents had not come forward sooner.
Notice how Trump himself does not even deny that the attack happened, just the severity of it. Ford shared details of the incident in an anonymous letter, but Kavanaugh’s denial and the unencumbered nomination proceedings prompted Ford to publicly reveal herself in order for the allegations to be given proper consideration. “Brave” does not begin to cover Ford’s decision to come forward, especially in a culture that fosters an environment which protects sexual predators while putting survivors on trial. It is that same culture that forces many victims into silence owing to internalized victim shaming. Women, men and gender-non-conforming survivors of sexual violence often offer the same reasons for not speaking that perpetrators use to defend themselves, speaking to the warped and insensitive cultural dialogue around sexual violence.
“It’s really the only crime where people doubt the victim immediately,” she added. “If your car was stolen, they don’t say, ‘Are you sure it was stolen? Why were you driving such an expensive car?’” – New York Times
In the wake of Trump’s attempt to attack Dr. Ford’s credibility, survivors of abuse came forward in show of solidarity by sharing their own stories in the #WhyIDidntReport hashtag. Coming forward is a distinct hell on its own so the hashtag was used to highlight the shame, anger and fear that influence a person’s decision to seek justice for an assault. According to The Times, “It may take a survivor a while to process that trauma, and even to identify what has happened,” said Carolyn M. West, a professor of psychology at the University of Washington who has written and spoken extensively about sexual abuse and trauma.”
Because I was in an abusive relationship. Because I hadn’t recognized it as assault. Because it ended and no one would have believed me. Because saying something would have meant losing everything. Because moving forward felt more important than justice. #WhyIDidntReport
— Caitlyn Leong (@caitlyn_leong) September 22, 2018
Because I was a party girl at university
Because I went home with him
Because I thought everyone would say I asked for it
Because I thought this was just what happened when you partied too hard
Because I thought no one would believe me
I thought I deserved it 😥
— Lerato Chondoma (@blkfaerie) September 22, 2018
He was my ex-boyfriend. He locked me in a bedroom at a party.
I called for help: my brother and friends kicked in the door.
They were too late.
It was painful and humiliating, but I didn't think I could call it rape cause I had prior consensual sex with him. #WhyIDidntReport
— Ellen Mary G (@ellenmaryg) September 24, 2018
Thousands of women have been using #WhyIDidntReport to explain why it took them years to talk about being sexually assaulted
Over 675,000 tweets have used the hashtag
— Edward Hardy (@EdwardTHardy) September 24, 2018
Our culture protects perpetrators of sexual assault. It puts puts them on TV shows and in movies. It allows them to run studios and broadcast networks. It allows them onto the highest court in the land and to occupy the most powerful office in the so-called “free world.” Defenders of these deviants always lament the damage that an allegation can do to the reputation of the accused, but the sheer number of people that keep quiet about the violence they endured is proof enough that the damage is truly felt by the accuser.
Dr. Ford came forward after 30 years because she realized how important her story might be to the millions of Americans whose lives would be affected by his appointment. Her actions are brave because we don’t live in perfect world where sexual assault allegations ruin a man’s ability to serve on the Supreme Court. Anita Hill’s harrowing experience was the lesson America didn’t learn and now we find ourselves in a similar place—with Roe vs. Wade on the line.
When women come out in defense of Kavanaugh on the basis that it’s just “boys being boys,” I have to fight the urge to burn my bra and throw it at them. Sexual assault survivors have to contend with living in a world where their trauma is reduced to something as trivial as “rough-housing.” It is a travesty on justice that will force humanity to look back and cringe. Reporting is reliving for survivors; having to to go through the experience again and again, just so the perpetrator isn’t free to do the same to another innocent soul; and then, only to be met with the same doubt they themselves had to overcome in order to report in the first place.
Our culture protects sexual assaulters and it is chilling that we are still here, playing hostage to the violent whims of unapologetic men. Survivors deserve better. We all do.
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