When Survivors Speak

Today, 27th of September, Dr. Christine Blasey Ford gives her testimony in front of the Senate Judiciary Committee. She was the first woman to claim that she had be sexually assaulted by Supreme Court Justice nominee, Brett Kavanaugh. Deborah Ramirez was the second woman to reveal that Kavanaugh harassed while they attended college together. Last night, the third allegation against Kavanaugh broke; Julie Swetnick stated that Kavanaugh took part in behaviors that led to girls being assaulted by groups of boys.

All survivors who speak against their attackers should be listened to, and applauded. Unfortunately, in our current climate, survivors are often questioned, berated, and blamed.

President Donald Trump has called these survivors, con artists, giving free reign to other rape apologists. Take for instance the Tweet from the U.S. Ambassador to Norway wife.

There are countless reasons why survivors do not report sexual assault against them. The way in which Kavanaugh’s actions have been excused, even before both of their testimonies, speaks to the leniency given to men, especially powerful, white men, when they are accused of sexual misconduct. What kind of message does this “boys will be boys” rhetoric send to teenage girls? When survivors speak, especially when they are intoxicated or at parties, their actions are put under the limelight, and they are interrogated.

Dr. Blasey Ford’s courage to speak has encouraged thousands of women to speak about their assaults. Although, the public is not owed survivors’s stories, they should have the assurance that if they do choose to speak out, they will not be attacked.

In her written testimony, Dr. Blasey Ford states:

I am here today not because I want to be. I am terrified. 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. I have described the events publicly before. I summarised them in my letter to Ranking Member Feinstein, and again in my letter to Chairman Grassley. I understand and appreciate the importance of your hearing from me directly about what happened to me and the impact it has had on my life and on my family.

Women’s March U.S. has done a tremendous job supporting survivors and galvanising support for them throughout the country. They have made sure that Kavanaugh’s actions are not swept under the rug and that he is held accountable for his actions. The entire Women’s March Network (Global, U.S. and Canada) throughout the world are demonstrating their support of survivors through social media, letters, and calls to representatives.

Chapter Ambassadors from Women’s March Paris (Left) and Women’s March Barcelona (Right)

We must continue the difficult work of dismantling the rape culture prevalent in our societies. We owe it to the survivors before us, and the women and girls currently threatened, and our children yet to be born.