Women must be heard
Keeping the Faith - Faith Elder
Brett Kavanaugh has now been confirmed to a lifetime appointment to the Supreme Court. This confirmation fol- lows multiple accusations of alleged sexual assault from for- mer classmates.
Accusers claim Kavanaugh attacked them at parties during their high school and college years, where Kavanaugh would spike women's drinks and then assault them.
But behind all the rhetoric of party politics in this confirma- tion, something very concern- ing has caught my attention. Kavanaugh's accuser Dr. Chris- tine Blasey Ford came forward, faced the nation and her attack- er, and then relived her trauma through an emotional testimo- ny. But after she did this, she was attacked by Kavanaugh supporters, media outlets, and even the president.
The mistreatment of Dr. Bla- sey Ford is a reminder of the harsh reality of being a female sexual assault victim.
While not all of us are public- ly ridiculed and sent messages of hate, the few brave victims who come forward consistently face resistance. This resistance can be as major as police refusing to file a report, or as minor as being told "it can't really be that bad."
Here is the truth: sexual as- sault is extremely common, with an estimated one in ev- ery three women experiencing some form. One in every five women experience rape or at- tempted rape.
In comparison, only one in 33 men experiences rape in his lifetime.
Especially concerning is the rate of sexual assault on college campuses. Eleven percent of all students experience rape or sexual assault and 4.2 percent experience stalking on campus.
However, sexual assault re- mains the most under-reported crime in America.
Dr. Blasey Ford has been criticized for not reporting the incident with Kavanaugh. Dr. Blasey Ford said she was afraid no one would believe her, and later did not want to risk a trial. Victims remain silent for many reasons: for some it is the fear of being shamed or being blamed; others just want to try to forget their trauma.
For me, it was guilt.
In the spring, I left an emo- tionally abusive relationship with a fellow Highline student. In the weeks following the breakup, I noticed my ex was following me on campus, shad- owing me from class to class.
As time passed, he began ap- proaching me, grabbing me and trying to kiss me.
It wasn't until after I was fol- lowed to my car that I told any- one the whole truth. I confided to a friend, but when I told her my plans to go to Public Safety, she told me there was no point in ruining someone's life just because I was overreacting to a clingy ex.
I took her advice and didn't report, trying to end the prob- lem by myself. I chose different paths to get to class in order to avoid my attacker, sometimes causing me to be late. I found myself trying to leave campus early, running across the park- ing lot so I could get to the safe- ty of a locked car. I was actively punching holes in my life, justi- fying my actions with the hope of safety.
Dr. Blasey Ford's story and mine are radically different, be- ing 30 years and several thou- sand miles apart. The similari- ty in our stories is our silence, something which has now been broken.
But before we can celebrate the triumph of the truth com- ing forward, it is time to face the shameful reality that American culture sweeps sexual assault under the rug, teaching women that the crimes against them are inconsequential in comparison to the possibilities of a man's future. This culture of guilt and blame isn't new, but it is time to change our values for the better and give women an equal op- portunity for justice.
Like most Amer- icans, I will never understand what Dr. Blasey Ford felt when she faced the Senate Judiciary Committee. How- ever, being told that she is a fraud and that her attacker doesn't deserve to face consequences is a story that wom- en have lived, and will continue to live, until victims' lives are more val- ued than predators' reputations.
Faith Elder is opinion editor of the Thunderword.