Yesterday we watched Dr. Blasey Ford, who agreed to step forward after her story was shared without her consent, share her testimony and memories of a traumatic sexual assault before the Senate Judiciary Committee and millions of Americans.
We are in awe of her incredible grace, courage and bravery.
As the coalition of Connecticut’s sexual assault crisis services centers, we serve thousands of child, adolescent and adult survivors each year, and know from our experience and well documented research, how exceedingly common it is for survivors of sexual violence to delay disclosing or reporting in the face of multiple fears- the largest of which is that they will not be believed.
All survivors who make the difficult decision to disclose or report sexual violence, should be taken seriously. Unfortunately, we did not see this happen in the days leading up to the hearing. Dr. Blasey Ford’s treatment from some of the most powerful people in our country has been deplorable.
In their steadfast determination to fill the Supreme Court position, the majority leadership of the Senate Judiciary Committee has refused to conduct a proper non-partisan, investigation.
Further in their haste, the majority leadership announced before the hearing that they will hold a vote today, indicating that minds are already made up. They do not want to believe Dr. Blasey Ford and seem dismissive of the additional reports made by Deborah Ramirez and Julie Swetnick. It is clear that any new insights will not be followed-up and investigated by those trained to do so.
The majority leaders of the Senate Judiciary Committee have sent a message to survivors that they will not be believed. Sexual violence is already the most under-reported crime in our country. We fear that more victims will be silenced and more people will be emboldened to commit crimes of sexual assault because they believe they can do so without consequence.
This is a painful chapter in our national reckoning with sexual violence. Millions of survivors triggered by these events are reliving the memories of their own assault and what they faced and endured when they disclosed to a trusted friend, or person in a position to help who did not believe them, questioned their motivation, or failed to intervene and protect them from further harm.
Are we going to be a country which believes the millions of stories shared by survivors themselves and the well documented research that shows the impact of trauma on short and long term memory, and how common it is for survivors to not disclose or report in the face of their many fears? Or, are we going to continue to question those who bravely come forward and meet them with disproven rape myths and victim blaming narratives that only serve to protect the perpetrators of these assaults and crimes.
We will not stop working to create a world where survivors are met with compassion and support and have pathways to the justice and healing they deserve.
We believe you. Even if it happened a long time ago, even if you never told anyone before, even if you trusted or liked the person who harmed you — it is not your fault. We are here for you. You deserve safety and support. Connect with one of our nine community-based sexual assault crisis services centers directly or utilize our free and confidential 24/7 hotlines: 1-888-999-5545 (English) or 1-888-568-8332 (Español).