Professor Christine Blasey Ford is a courageous woman who is risking her reputation and safety in an effort to try to protect the country she loves.  Her bravery illustrates something very wrong with our society; our values and our politics.  Professor Ford did nothing wrong and was afraid to speak while Judge Kavanaugh had no compunction about seeking a seat on the Supreme Court despite committing a horrific crime.

When Kavanaugh was 17 he assaulted and attempted to rape Christine.  She was only 15.  In a society that often blames the victims of sexual assault even after the “Me Too” Movement, Christine was afraid to reveal Kavanaugh’s  assault when he committed his crime or for many decades thereafter.

Kavanaugh’s actions were not unusual in the 1980s when the crime was committed or today when Professor Ford struggled with disclosure.  We allow one-quarter of the children in the United States to be assaulted, mostly be predators they know.  Millions more adults, mostly women are assaulted after they reach 18.

Christine suffered serious problems she had to deal with especially in the years immediately following Kavanaugh’s assault.  The trauma continued to harm her and especially her relationships which is why she finally discussed his crime in 2012 as part of family therapy.  Professor Ford is a respected and successful professional but one might wonder how much more she could have accomplished without this trauma to hold her back.

Remember, Christine’s experience is not unusual in this sexist society that has long tolerated sexual abuse committed by boys and men.  At least tens of millions of children and women are suffering like Christine.  We usually don’t know their stories because it is treated as a private matter.  Christine would still be suffering in anonymity if Kavanaugh had not been nominated for the Supreme Court.

The shame attached to sexual assault is not happenstance.  The shame discourages victims from reporting crimes which in turn makes it safer for predators to continue to assault women and children.  I hope the public will remember this if any of the politicians attack Professor Ford.

Maybe Kavanaugh Is Innocent

The concept of “innocent until proven guilty” is often misunderstood.  It only applies to criminal proceedings.  Fundamental to our jurisprudence is that we want to make sure innocent people aren’t sent to jail.  The restriction does not apply to the general public.  No responsible parent would allow their child to play at the home of a neighbor charged with child sexual abuse.  Innocent until proven guilty does not apply to a dangerous situation like that.

Judge Kavanaugh is entitled to a fair hearing, but so is Professor Ford.  The United States Senate disgraced itself when they mistreated Anita Hill and succumbed to partisan pressure to place a disgraced Clarence Thomas on the Supreme Court.  He has been allowed to do enormous harm since then while maintaining a stain on the court’s reputation.

Perhaps additional information will be provided if there is a fair hearing in the Senate Judiciary Committee.  Right now the information available seems overwhelming.  Does anyone believe Professor Ford revealed Kavanaugh’s assault at a family therapy session in 2012 in order to derail his nomination in 2018?  Did she take lessons so she could pass a lie detector test?  She had no reason to make up her disclosure, but he has every reason to deny it.

Unfortunately there is nothing unusual about the assault Kavanaugh committed.  It is not unusual that he went on to enjoy a successful career while Christine suffered a lifetime of harmful consequences.  There is nothing unusual that she was afraid to reveal his bad behavior.  The only thing that I hope is somewhat unusual is that he is being considered for a seat on the Supreme Court after committing his horrific crime.

Conclusion

As important as whether a sexual predator wins a seat on the Supreme Court is, the Senate decision is not the most important issue exposed by this scandal.  As a nation we are not helping and supporting victims the way they deserve.  We are not making the prevention of sexual abuse, particularly against children the priority it deserves.  We continue to tolerate and encourage the abuse excuse including the myth that women and children frequently make false reports.  We are not holding perps accountable.  The immediate decision is not whether Kavanaugh should go to jail but whether he is allowed on the Supreme Court where he can hurt more women.

Did I mention that Christine was only 15?

 

Barry Goldstein

Barry Goldstein

Research Director

 
Barry Goldstein is a nationally recognized domestic violence author, speaker and advocate; he has written some of the leading books about domestic violence and custody.
 
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