What The Ford-Kavanaugh Hearing Means For Women

Warning: This article, sections and links contain information about sexual assault and/or violence which may be triggering to survivors. If you or anyone you know is in need of help, please contact one or more of the following:

Canadian Association of Sexual Assault Centres (CASAC) or the Ontario Coalition of Rape Crisis Centres (OCRCC) at 1-866-863-0511

York University’s Sexual Assault Survivor’s Support Line and Leadership (SASSL) at 1-416-650-8056 or at their website.

 

The past few years have been tough and revolutionary for women everywhere. The numerous accusations against prominent figures and the rise of the #MeToo and Time’s Up movements have brought to light the rampant nature of sexual assault that women experience. But what happens when these issues happen on a political level?

 

To those unaware, Judge Brett Kavanaugh is a U.S. Supreme Court Justice nominee, as nominated by President Donald Trump. This is a lifetime position, unless the justice decides to retire or is impeached. However, Judge Kavanaugh was recently accused of sexual assault by three women with Dr. Christine Blasey Ford being the first to do so. Ford accused Kavanaugh of sexually assaulting her at a party when they were in high school. Despite death threats and harassment against her and her family, Dr. Ford appeared in front of the Senate Judiciary Committee and testified.

 

Both Kavanaugh and Ford testified before the Committee in a publicly broadcasted hearing. Ford, though at times visibly shaken, relayed details from the night of the assault and answered the Committee’s questions to the best of her abilities. Kavanaugh argued his defense, denying all of the allegations against him. A brief one week FBI investigation was ordered to look into the accusations against Kavanaugh.

 

“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.” (Ford)

Photo by Win McNamee

 

After the hearing, the U.S. National Sexual Assault Hotline received a 338 percent increase in calls - the busiest they’ve ever been since it started operating 24 years ago. Hotlines in other countries also experienced the same traffic in calls in light of the Ford-Kavanaugh hearing, and social media was filled with people either supporting or doubting Ford. The hearing has made several people recount and reflect upon their own harrowing experiences of sexual assault, many of which occurred several years ago.

 

Through all of this, Dr. Ford has become an image of strength and courage among many survivors of sexual assault. In the face of fear and negativity, she publicly shared an experience that has traumatized her since it happened. She felt it was her duty to tell the truth about someone who was about to be elected into a position of high power, a position that is supposed to protect and fight for the rights of the people. Survivors of sexual assault will know that recounting and sharing these experiences are incredibly challenging. It has inspired many to come forward to either share their own story or get help for the trauma they’ve endured.

Photo via Pixabay

Sexual assault is a serious and widespread issue in society that needs to be stopped. With movements such as Time’s Up and #MeToo, it’s no longer acceptable to be ignorant or to make excuses regarding this issue. Survivors should no longer be intimidated by the wealth, status or power of the people that assaulted them. Survivors’ voices are valid and should be heard no matter how long ago the incident happened. This has become more than just a Supreme Court nomination. How this plays out can affect people’s trust in political institutions and if their experiences are taken into account. Although this story is still unfolding and its outcome remains uncertain, it’s clear that issues like this can no longer go overlooked.