The Hartford Courant Editorial Board
If you watched the testimony of Christine Blasey Ford, you probably understand a little better why women stay silent about sexual assault.
Look at what happens when they do speak.
The victim goes on trial — not the person she says assaulted her. The victim is disbelieved. She is disrespected.
We’re not talking about reasonable challenges to Ms. Ford’s allegation that Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh sexually assaulted her at a party when they were both teenagers. We’re talking about the shaming, blaming and threats she’s endured.
She’s had to move because she’s afraid for her family’s safety. “I have been called the most vile and hateful names imaginable,” she said.
The Republican senators who had her testify before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Thursday may have made a mistake.
This appears to be backfiring. She looks like a nice woman getting interrogated for a crime she didn’t commit. What woman watching the questioning didn’t cringe with sympathy for her? Didn’t feel a tinge of respect for the strength she had to summon to get on that stand to tell a story that some of the most powerful people in the nation are trying to discredit?
Watching her undergo that trial, it becomes clear why a 15-year-old might be afraid to tell anyone about an assault — because of what she, not her assailant, would face.
She would be quite aware of the questions she’d be asked: Did she do anything to provoke the attack?
What was she wearing? Did she lead him on? Was she in the wrong place? Was she alone? — and the implicit fingerpointing in those questions. This moment is a painful reminder of how backward our society is when it comes to rape.
So that the all-male roster of Republicans on the Judiciary Committee wouldn’t look like bullies themselves, they took the unprecedented step of hiring a female prosecutor to question Ms. Ford. They’ve refused to reopen Mr. Kavanaugh’s FBI background investigation to look into her allegations and others that have surfaced since. They prefer the public grilling method.
Thank you, Sen. Richard Blumenthal, for supporting Ms. Ford during the ordeal with words that brought tears to her eyes and many others’. The senator quoted from Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham’s book, “My Story,” that it takes “courage from a deep and hidden place for a rape victim or sexually abused child to testify against their assailant.”
On Thursday, the nation could see why.