Christine Blasey Ford’s emotional testimony in front of the Senate Judiciary Committee overnight should provide a strong wake-up call to anyone who believes women come forward with allegations for the sake of it.
During Blasey Ford’s opening statement she revealed her family has received death threats in the past few weeks. Her personal information has been posted online. Her family has been forced to move out of their home and live in a number of secret locations.
“I am here today not because I want to be. I am terrified,” she said. “I am here because I believe it is my civic duty to tell you what happened to me while Brett Kavanaugh and I were in high school.”
Blasey Ford said her greatest fears have been realised, and they have been worse than she expected, since coming forward with the allegations.
The psychologist and professor at Palo Alto University claims Donald Trump’s supreme court nominee sexually assaulted her at a house in the 1980s. She feared he would rape her while he pinned her down, and that he might accidentally kill her while he held his hand over her mouth.
While her opening statement had been released online prior to her appearance, her delivery was powerful and emotional. As we publish she and Kavanaugh have been facing hours of questioning, in which Kavanaugh has continued to deny the allegations and Blasey Ford has said she is “100% sure” he was her attacker.
Blasey Ford said the last few weeks have been the most difficult of her life, apart from the sexual assault.
“I have had to relive my trauma in front of the entire world, and I have seen my life picked apart by people on television, on Twitter, social media, other media, and in this body who have never met me or spoken with me.
“My motivation in coming forward was to be helpful and to provide the facts about how Mr. Kavanaugh’s actions have damaged my life, so that you can take that into a serious consideration as you make your decision about how to proceed.
“It is not my responsibility to determine whether Mr. Kavanaugh deserves to sit on the Supreme Court. My responsibility is to tell you the truth.”
She described where she grew up and how in high school her group of friends had intersected with Kavanagh and his friends for a short period, and that she attended a number of parties he attended during that time. She then described the night she attended a small gathering at a house, as well as the four boys that were there including Kavanagh and Mark Judge. She said while walking up the stairs, she was pushed into a bedroom by someone she couldn’t see, and that Kavanagh and Mark Judge came in and locked the door behind them.
“I tried to yell for help, when I did Brett Kavanaugh put his hand over my mouth,” she said. “It was hard for me to breathe and I thought he would accidentally kill me.”
She said the assault drastically changed her life and that she was too afraid and ashamed to share the details with anyone. She told her husband in 2012 during a therapy session, when she described why she had insisted on a second front door when they were remodelling their house. She said she never named her attacker outside of that therapy session.
“This all changed in early July 2018. I saw press reports stating that Brett Kavanaugh was on the “short list” of potential Supreme Court nominees. I thought it was my civic duty to relay the information I had about Mr. Kavanaugh’s conduct so that those considering his potential nomination would know about the assault.”
She said she felt a “sense of urgency” to share the information to the Senate and the president as soon as she could, before the nominee was selected.
“This was an extremely hard thing for me to do, but I felt I couldn’t NOT do it.”
She spent weeks agonising over the decision to speak out, before the media reported on a letter she wrote to Senator Feinstein on August 31. She then faced increased pressure with journalists appearing at her house and leaving messages at her work, she went to the Washington Post.
“Since Sept. 16, the date of The Washington Post story, I have experienced an outpouring of support from people in every state of this country. Thousands of people who have had their lives dramatically altered by sexual violence have reached out to share their own experiences with me and have thanked me for coming forward. We have received tremendous support from friends and our community.”
But, she added, her fears were also realised: with harassment, death threats, vile and hateful names and comments.
“These messages, while far fewer than the expressions of support, have been terrifying to receive and have rocked me to my core.
Finishing her statement, she said she would do her best to answer questions, and requested some caffeine.
Kavanaugh denied the allegations during his opening statement. He said “sexual assault is horrific” and “morally wrong” and contrary to his religious faith. “Those who make allegations deserve to be heard. The subject of allegations also deserves to be heard.”
He said that while he spent most of his high school years on studying, sport, church and service, he was not perfect and drank beer with his friends on weekends. “Sometimes I had too many.”
But he said he did not do to Blasey Ford
what she claims occurred, or to anyone. “It is possible that we met at some point at some events, but I do not recall that,” he said. His defence was not to say the attack didn’t happen, but that it was not him.
“This has destroyed my family and my good name. A good name built up through decades of public service.” He claimed the allegations are part of a “calculated political hit”, a “frenzy on the left” that’s trying to “destroy” him, with “consequences [that] will be felt for decades”.
“I will not be intimidated into withdrawing from this process.
“You may defeat me in the final vote. But you’ll never defeat me ever… I’m here to tell the truth, I have never sexually assaulted anyone.”