To Not Be Believed: Why I Support the Dr. Christine Blasey Fords of the World

Dr. Ford’s testimony against Judge Kavanaugh has made some serious waves in American politics. The backlash against Dr. Ford about both the timing and details of her sexual assault accusations are getting every survivor at least a little worked up — myself included.

You can’t know what it’s like to be in Dr. Ford’s position until you’re not believed about something terrible that happened to you. There’s no feeling comparable to being unbelieved about your trauma.

I wasn’t believed about my own sexual assaults by a partner of two and a half years and that’s ultimately why I had to end my relationship with him. Our breakup essentially came down to one Instagram post that I made:

The first time I remember being sexually assaulted was when I was in 5th grade riding home on the bus. He would steal my lunch box or my backpack and not give it back until I let him feel me up to his satisfaction. I was so ashamed and so worried that I would be blamed for what happened that I didn't tell anyone until I was almost an adult. - I cannot count the number of times it's happened since. I've travelled to three different continents. I've been sexually assaulted on all three. I've been choked, raped, felt up, yelled at, guilted, pressured, and even threatened to death. - The one time I reported a sexual assault experience, I regretted it. I was in college. I went through weeks and weeks of additional pain only for it to amount to nothing. The university punished him by forcing him to write an essay on why his actions were wrong, attend a women's sexual assault panel, and pay a $50 fine TO THE SCHOOL. The police did absolutely nothing. And I mean NOTHING. I was quickly forgotten by the people who are sworn to protect me. - This shit changes you. I've never been the same since. Each time another experience happened, I felt like I lost a part of myself. I've struggled with depression and anxiety for years. The most common thought to pop in my head is that I am not enough. These experiences have reinforced this unhealthy belief in such a deep way that digging my way out in therapy is taking years. - To all the women and men who've been sexually assaulted, you are absolutely not alone. It may make people uncomfortable to talk about, but it has to be done to tackle this issue that's been brushed under the rug for far too long. We do not deserve to bare the discomfort of living with the memory of these experiences on our own. For every "Me Too" out there, there's someone who has very unlikely been held accountable for their actions. - It has to change. There are no excuses. There are far too many people out there saying #MeToo

He didn’t believe me. He thought I was making it up — for attention, for pity, for sympathy? He wasn’t sure. But he was sure I was a liar and couldn’t be trusted.

He chose to believe some strange men he’d never met from stories I told over believing his girlfriend of two and a half years.

…that was unless I chose to report the sexual assault that happened in London three years prior. Then he would believe me.

And as you know, every woman who comes forward about her sexual assaults years later is always 100% believed, not questioned as to why she waited, and in this particular case, not questioned about why she’s reporting from an entirely different country. … NOT.

This wasn’t the first time I was not trusted or believed by this partner, and the cost of being believed– by a longterm, long distance partner– was just way too high. So I ended it.

To not be believed and then to be called a liar by the one person in your life who is supposed to believe you is a horrible situation to endure and I wouldn’t wish it on anyone.

Public Sexual Assault Accusations Hurt the Survivor More than the Guilty Party

So often after sexual assault stories that have gone public, men get off with no consequences. Even more often, we’ll talk about how it was a close call, how that man’s life would have been forever ruined, how he still has potential to go be something great thanks to this narrow miss in a swing at his character.

But we don’t even bother to talk about the woman after her failed attempt to pursue justice. She’s been living with trauma for possibly years, finally decided to put it all on the line and relive her trauma for just a shot at justice, she loses, and everyone moves on. She still has to bear the burden of that trauma with no justice — and even worse, she now has to do it while the public doesn’t even believe her.

That’s what reporting a sexual assault is like nearly every time, regardless of how public it becomes: when the survivor loses her case or the report amounts to nothing, everyone else moves on while she has to live with her trauma not being believed for the rest of her life.

And we wonder why survivors stop trying to be heard.

I’ve been assaulted multiple times, but I only chose to report one of my assaults– and it was while I was at Truman State University. If I could go back and do it all again, I think I probably wouldn’t have reported. I relived my trauma for weeks to seek justice only to be completely forgotten by the local police and to be told by the school, yes, he will be punished — by paying the school a fine and writing an essay based on a women’s panel he had to attend.

I don’t understand how giving my school money helps me achieve retribution in any way, and I hardly believe a lame school assignment on why sexual assault is bad will teach this guy to never do it again. This was a Moroccan exchange student who was only there for a semester — surely you’d think violating school policy and US law was enough to expel him from the school and send him back to Morocco. But no. He finished out his American semester abroad and went home carefree.

At the very least, I hope I scared him into being more respectful toward women.

Women have so very little to gain by coming forward to report sexual assaults. Honestly, it’s a big ask. When you’re asking a woman to report her sexual assault, you’re asking her to publicize deep trauma for an outcome that, even if fully realized, won’t even come close to making up for the trauma she’s had to experience.

A simple cost/benefit analysis reveals that the cost of reporting sexual assaults is way too damn high to be worth it. The ROI for reporting sexual assaults is SHIT.

Who Do You Believe?

Some men and women are standing at the top of Facebook mountain and shouting down to the masses: “Why is Dr. Christine Blasey Ford only coming forward now?” Because it wasn’t even damn near worth it until now, folks. The situation is dire. She’s trying to save her COUNTRY from putting a sexual abuser on the Supreme Court.

If you had information that could save your country from making one of the most permanent and most horrible decisions you can make in a democracy, would you even be brave enough to come forward? Would you be brave enough to suffer through the hatred she will endure for the rest of her life for testifying live before the whole world against the Presidential pick for the Supreme Court nominee?

She’s not just standing up for sexual assault survivors everywhere, she’s a patriot.

True patriots are willing to give up something of their own for the greater good of their country. The military put their lives on the line, civil servants put their time and energy on the line, Dr. Christine Blasey Ford is putting her reputation and her health on the line. She has nothing to gain but everything to lose.

If you’re in the camp that doesn’t believe Ford or that Kavanaugh is “innocent until proven guilty,” I question why you’ll only believe this woman’s sexual assault story if it’s proven in a court of law — which this is not, by the way. It’s not a trial, it’s a job interview.

For how little there is to gain personally from reporting, for how much the trauma compounds when you’re not believed, for how endurant one must be to face backlash about her accusations, how can you not at least be a little bit more inclined to believe a woman?

Women are not believed far more often than they’re believed, and it’s often for all the wrong reasons. Those who don’t believe Dr. Ford is telling the truth should be called into question. If you’re not in a Senate seat and key to deciding who the next Supreme Court Justice is, what do you have to gain from not expressing your support for sexual assault survivors?

And if you don’t believe Ford, I ask you this — do you believe me?