Dear Dr. Blasey Ford,
Today was a day unlike any other for you. A day you’d avoided for literally decades, and then, with the eyes of the world literally watching on live television, you re-lived the most traumatic moments of your life. I’m shaking a little, with tears in my eyes just imagining what that must have been like for you.
I hope you’re not on social media tonight, but maybe, someday, after the dust has settled, you might trip upon this little note. I wanted to thank you for what you did today.
So many people have been violated as victims of sexual assault. So many don’t tell, for reasons which have been so very misunderstood.
Today, the whole world understands a little better why women stay silent.
The world saw why women keep the sexual violence a secret. Why all victims of sexual assualt (women and men alike) choose to bury their trauma underground. Why, even though the memories and the effects of those memories bubble up regularly in your own life, the secret is kept.
We saw why it’s so hard to speak up, today.
The hassles you have endured in people questioning your integrity have been visible for the world to see. The questions. The doubt. The concern over his reputation. The suggestion that you mis-remembered the most horrific moment of your life.
It wasn’t easy for you today…and many, many women looked at what happened to you and thought: “Yep, that’s what I always knew would happen if I told.” The reaction of others over these last days and up until today confirmed many victims’ worst fears.
That’s most unfortunate, isn’t it?
I thought you might want to know, Dr. Blasey Ford, in the dictionary of my mind, when I see the word “courage”, I see your picture.
You defined courage today. You told the story of your whole heart boldly and clearly. You told it vulnerably. You were literally quaking in your shoes, and you continued.
You were clear eyed, and at home in your body when you spoke forthrightly.
I haven’t had a chance to see it all, but I caught a few snippets on the news. What is clear is this:
We could all see what it cost you to testify today.
Trauma rakes a person over the coals when it happens. Trauma scrapes and rubs over the years with flashbacks and triggers and body memories that interrupt life.
And then telling the whole story, out loud, in front of others, many of whom don’t understand, and perhaps don’t even want to understand, rakes you back over those same coals all over again.
It took a lot out of you.
That was powerful to witness.
The world had a chance to see someone tell their story–not only of the event, but how it affected you. We had an opportunity to see, and feel, at a visceral level, the cost of sexual trauma. Because reporting and talking about it is so incredibly painful, so many have not experienced how very difficult it is.
A person can read the statistics, but you helped people get it with their heart.
I received a text today from someone I’ve gotten to know from a board I sit on. A kind, thoughtful man. He deals with numbers and business all day..and today he watched the hearing.
I thought it might be an encouragement for you to know that in between sessions today, as I was listening to the pain of clients, I saw this text from him:
Carolyn, I’ve been watching the Ford testimony in the US against Supreme Court nominee Kavanaugh. I’ve never heard a testimony about an assault before. It’s terrible (having to testify) and heartbreaking (what happened and the impact on her). My understanding is forever changed. Thank you for the work you and your colleagues do for hurting people.
He got it.
Today, this man who has always been thoughtful and insightful, understands deep into the marrow of his bones:
the pain and terror of sexual trauma
the lasting and profound effects of sexual trauma
the re-traumatization of having to recount sexual trauma
the resistance to understanding and the disbelief the victims of sexual trauma have come to expect from others
I think it is important for you to know, Dr. Blasey Ford, that regardless of the outcome regarding the Supreme Court, your presence today created countless opportunities to experience what it is like to re-traumatize someone as they tell their story. We felt the ugliness of sharing such painful memories in an environment with hostility and doubt.
The aftermath of sexual assault was not something I had to explain to anyone today. We all had the uncomfortable ability to see what talking about trauma looks like.
It may be small comfort, but your courage is a beacon of hope to so many who share your history of trauma. The doubting, critical reactions of others validated their fears. Your strength in the face of adversity showed us that doing incredibly hard things is possible–and even with great dignity.
I’m sorry that it was such a difficult day for you. But I do thank you for what you did–beyond words can say.
Thank you, for your courage, your strength, your determination, your willingness to show up in the midst of such adversity.
Thank you for the lesson we witnessed today about all of this and so much more,