As a sexual assault survivor, the #MeToo movement has been both a blessing and a curse. For the first time I can share my story and hear the the words "I believe you" in return. But with every story, every allegation, every powerful man being held accountable and every powerful man eluding the consequences of his actions, I'm also left feeling afraid, angry, and overwhelmed. The sexual assault allegations against Judge Brett Kavanaugh are no different, and now, once again, I am left to confront of my own assault. I'm left fearing for my kids and the world I'll one day have to send them out into; a world that's more concerned with a man's reputation or future career opportunities than a woman's humanity or the impact of sexual assault. I feel so helpless, hopeless, and stuck in a cycle perpetuated by rape culture; a cycle that might allow a man credibly accused of sexual assault to hold a lifetime position as a Supreme Court Justice.
Dr. Christine Blasey Ford accused Judge Kavanaugh of attempting to rape her during a high school party in 1982. Kavanaugh has denied the allegations, and since coming forward, Dr. Ford has received death threats, has had to take a leave of absence from her job as a psychology professor, and after being doxxed by an internet troll, has had to go into hiding with her family. Numerous rumors have now circulated the internet about Dr. Ford, according to The New York Times, including that she has ties to Russia. Her life, in no uncertain terms, has been upended.
The backlash Ford has faced, perpetuated by strangers on the internet and even high-powered politicians — like Senator Orrin Hatch (R-UT) who said Dr. Ford was "mistaken" and that even if the allegations are true "I think it would be hard for senators to not consider who the judge is today. That’s the issue. Is this judge a really good man? And he is. And by any measure he is." — has also impacted survivors of sexual assault who are watching, from the sidelines, as people rush to Kavanaugh's defense and attack Dr. Ford with impunity.
Mothers of daughters are terrified they will experience sexual violence. Mothers of sons are worried they won't be able to escape the grips of toxic masculinity. And the mom sexual assault survivors are battling daily triggers as they attempt to continue to raise their children in a rape culture that tells them their stories, their voices, their trauma, do not matter. When we go online we re-live our assaults. When we turn on the news we remember our abusers. And when we look at our children we desperately hope they'll never know what this kind of lasting trauma feels like.
"I’m in disbelief that something like this doesn’t disqualify him outright. I’m also in awe of the women and people strong enough to come forward and confront what happened to them, because I never felt able to. I’m having a hard time with all of it, and have been asking friends for updates so I can get them without totally ruining a lot of the work I’ve done on myself over the past decade."
"The victim-blaming is exactly why I still won't name my attacker. I openly talk about what he did, but I know the second I drop the name people will turn on me. Watching an old schoolmate accuse Ford of making false accusations made me realize how very important it is to foster empathy in my child. I don't want to see my son turn into my schoolmates."
"I was a student at an elite private girls’ school when a football player from the boys’ school pinned me against the fence of a darkened backyard at a victory party, and breathed down my neck until some of my male friends pulled him off. I’ve never spoken about this. That guy, an Eagle Scout, went on to go to the Air Force Academy and became a Captain and fighter pilot.
There’s an all-girls’ school I’m trying desperately to get my daughter into. I want her to have her tight-knit woman tribe when things go bad. I’m changing how I raise her. My mom taught me to be kind and soft. I’m teaching her to be kind, but also how to fight."
"I don’t have time for this. To think about how I, too, have never been believed. To realize that we’re all one step away from being destroyed in public because of the reputations of 'good men' like Kavanaugh. To deal with the seething rage of listening to right-wing [redacted] go on about how Democrats are acting without integrity because they used timing to the advantage. For the bad memories or the rage or the frustration. It’s just all so banal and predictable, based on the assumption that upper middle-class men are good and women are suspect. I’m just so tired of this sh*t."
"I was raped at 14 by a friend's older brother. I didn't report it at the time because I knew nothing would happen. It took me 10 years to tell my family and even now they don't have all the details. I don't post about it publicly and I've never named my rapist.
I have a 2-year-old son. We teach consent in everything. I hope to raise him to protect himself, but to make damn sure he's never a perpetrator. I'm glad to see a shift in the conversation. I hope when my son becomes of age no person will have to fear coming forward."
"For the first time in my life I'm hopeful. The #MeToo movement is forcing our lawmakers to knowingly put their seats at risk in order to confirm him. It's keeping every sexual criminal awake at night. They know who they are and what they did. They fear us... process that, really process it. Survivors are finding each other more easily today. That's going to be more convictions. More reports. More justice."
"I try not to think about my experience, but I have a freshman daughter in college and that terrifies me. I bought her pepper spray. I need to make sure she keeps it on her."
"It's been really hard to listen to claims she can't be trusted because there are holes in her story. My experience happened when I was 13, and I couldn't tell you what city I was in,but I could draw exactly how the room was laid out and certain smells still bring the experiences roaring back. When I did report it nothing was done other than to blame it on me being too 'forward' and 'flirty.'
It's probably not great for my mental health, but I've started asking men what proof they'd require from their daughter. They usually say they'd just believe her. Then I ask them why this is different."
"I was sexually assaulted in high school by a boy several years older at a party and after he'd brought me alcohol all night. It took me 15 years to realize he raped me. I'm furious that [Kavanuagh] hasn't been dismissed and that [people] are demanding the victim defend her allegations. I have boys. I am teaching them consent every single day. I won't allow them to continue this bullsh*t culture."
"My anxiety has worsened. My nightmares have flared. I never reported my rapist. I was young and scared. I’m constantly watching for news updates on the Kavanaugh story. I keep thinking about what would happen if my rapist ran for office. I’m terrified to see the turn out of this because how is it going to affect my daughter? If he is still able to become a Supreme Court Justice, then what message does that pass to her?
I find myself apologizing to her and holding her a little tighter. I'm scared for her future and I'm tired of being haunted by demons of my past. I couldn’t get justice for myself. I want there to be justice for Christine Blasey Ford, so that my daughter and every other little girl has a chance to have justice, too."
If you're a victim of sexual assault and need help, contact the National Sexual Assault Telephone Hotline at 800.656.HOPE to be connected with a trained staff member from a sexual assault service provider in your area. You are not alone.