Thank you, Chris­tine Blasey Ford. Thank you for get­ting on an air­plane and sit­ting in that crowded U.S. Se­nate room and fac­ing an in­ter­ro­ga­tion in front of a pha­lanx of men who wanted you to fail.

You didn’t. You shone. With your big glasses, your un­adorned face and that way­ward strand of hair, you were Every­woman. Every­woman with guts.

It’s tempt­ing to call you fear­less, but you weren’t. You were ter­ri­ied. You said so. You seemed so. That’s what courage is — do­ing the hard, right thing even when you’re scared. Thank you for your courage. There’s no ev­i­dence that you ever wanted it to come to this, this spec­ta­cle in front of a Se­nate panel and the TV cam­eras, with your in­tegrity on trial.

From the out­set, the hear­ing was stacked against you. There you were, a psy­chol­ogy pro­fes­sor with no le­gal train­ing, up against a whole lot of lawyers, in­clud­ing the US Supreme Court nom­i­nee you say sex­u­ally as­saulted you when you were 15 and he was 17 and drunk. At the hear­ing, only you and he, Brett Ka­vanaugh, were called to tes­tify. No other wit­nesses were called, not even the other boy you say was in the bed­room the night you were at­tacked.

On Thurs­day morn­ing when you stood up and raised your right hand, swear­ing to tell the truth, a few mil­lion of us held our breath: Would you be able to hold it to­gether? When you be­gan to speak in a tremu­lous voice about the night you say Ka­vanaugh as­saulted you, a few mil­lion of us felt shaky too.

Like you, women all over the coun­try were try­ing not to cry. Some did any­way. Could you feel all those tears and prayers com­ing your way? Some women cried be­cause your de­scrip­tion of the as­sault caused them to re­mem­ber at­tacks they’d sur­vived. When you de­scribed fear­ing that Ka­vanaugh would rape you or ac­ci­den­tally kill you, they re­mem­bered their own ter­ror at the hands of some other boy, some other man.

Even women who don’t be­lieve you about Ka­vanaugh — and there are many — can re­late to what you de­scribed, so even the doubters are in your debt. By speak­ing out, you showed a strength that will surely in­spire oth­ers to do the same.

“My mo­ti­va­tion in com­ing for­ward was to be help­ful,” you said. You used the word “help­ful” more than once. You said “thank you” and “sorry.” You were so gra­cious that some peo­ple felt com­pelled to mock those “fem­i­nine” traits.

You know what? It takes guts to be gra­cious when you’re un­der at­tack. Con­sid­er­a­tion for oth­ers takes courage. Be­ing nice isn’t evil; the world could use more of it. What you said Thurs­day will be used by peo­ple in both po­lit­i­cal par­ties for their own gain. That’s out of your con­trol. You did what you came to do, which was to speak boldly in a world that so of­ten si­lences women’s ex­pe­ri­ences of vi­o­lence. Thank you for the care you took with your words. “I can only speak for how it has im­pacted me,” you said, but even with your cau­tion you spoke for how sex­ual as­sault af­fects many.

Thank you for en­dur­ing it all — the doubts, the in­sults, the death threats — and for keep­ing your com­po­sure. If you’d bro­ken down, you would have been mocked as an over­e­mo­tional woman. As you noted, it’s not up to you to de­ter­mine whether Brett Ka­vanaugh should sit on the US Supreme Court. You came, you spoke your truth, you con­quered your fear.

For do­ing so, your life will be harder for a long time to come. Thank you in ad­vance for those sac­ri­ices. You’ve been called a hero, but you don’t seem the type to crave glory. So let it su­fice to say thank you for be­ing a good and brave ci­ti­zen.

For that, you will be re­mem­bered with grat­i­tude.

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