Christine Blasey Ford Helped Me Come to Terms with My Own Sexual Assault

 

 

Trigger Warning: This article contains descriptions of sexual assault and may not be suitable for all readers. 

 

Nearly a year ago, Christine Blasey Ford testified about her sexual assault in front of the Senate Judiciary Committee. Her alleged-assaulter? Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh. There is still a debate as to whether or not Ford was telling The Truth. Even in the “Me Too” Era, there are still doubts about the legitimacy of victims’ claims. As I watched Christine Blasey Ford speak Her Truth,  I *somewhat* came to terms with my own sexual assault. 

 

Image Courtesy of IRJ.com

 

As the master of sweeping things under the rug, minimizing, procrastinating, and basically every other bad habit you could have, avoidance was my choice of coping mechanism. A few years ago while on a weekend trip with my friend and her older sister, I was sexually assaulted. I was underaged and drinking. The night of the assault I was involved in a motor accident that left me with a concussion (and a cringe-y neck brace). My friends brushed it off and I did not go to a doctor until I got back home. We were all scared of getting in trouble because there was alcohol involved. Feeling sick, in pain, and tipsy, we went back to the hotel room. I laid on the pullout couch with towels wrapped around the back of my head. I attempted to prop my feet up because they hurt. Later, I found out that I had a fractured foot and a sprained ankle. 

 

With my friend sleeping peacefully behind me, I stared at the ceiling and dozed. Sometime in the night, my friend’s older sister was walked home by her boyfriend. I can remember them coming through the door, very drunk, and her passing out on the bed. I don’t know how much time passed, but I felt pressure on top of me. I knew it was Him immediately from his hair and his voice. Even though it was dark, I could tell. It was very uncomfortable and hard to breathe, I struggled to open my eyes and/or move. If I hadn't been as injured or intoxicated, I probably could've done something. Maybe I could have done something anyway, but I didn’t. I was scared and fighting to stay awake.

 

I remember saying “no” and thrashing my legs around.

I remember being held down.

I remember trying to push Him off of me. 

I remember being in a lot of pain. 

 

I woke up the next morning, confused and maybe in shock. I chalked the “assault” up to a dream caused by my concussion. It was really easy to discard what happened. I was a “normal” girl and things like this don’t happen to “people like me.”

 

It didn’t register that the hand-like bruise around my wrist or the fist-like one on my thigh could have been from an assault. It also didn’t register that a motor accident probably wasn’t the cause of vaginal pain or bleeding. My teenage mind also liked to rationalize spotting as an early period despite the fact I was always regular.  So, just like that, I was “fine.” I had a bad weekend and a weird dream. 

 

The next few years were extremely difficult. I struggled with severe anxiety and depression. I was often scared and hated being alone. I had panic attacks on a daily basis. I struggled with weight gain and weight loss. I was embarrassed, ashamed, and damaged. I never told anyone and tried not to think about it.

 

Then the Christine Blasey Ford “thing” happened. While my mother and I were watching Ford’s testimony, I said: “something like that happened to me.” I don’t really know why I said it. Maybe I got a surge of bravery from Ford. It was “out of the blue.” I felt really stupid and embarrassed, but I told her everything. I know some sexual assault survivors feel freedom or weight lifted off of their shoulders, but I felt none of that. I regretted it almost immediately. Saying “Me Too” made it real. It made me, the “normal girl,” join this legion of women who experienced sexual violence. I also felt guilty using the term “sexual assault” or “rape” because I know of others’ who “had it worse.” 

Image Courtesy of GirltalkHQ.com

There is no cut-and-dried ending to this story. I still have mixed feelings about telling my mom. I still feel guilt and shame. Sometimes I minimize or ignore what happened. While I have told a few close friends, no one else really knows. Healing, or whatever comes next, is non-linear. 

 

If you or someone you know has experienced sexual violence, you can find resources here.