We have an incredibly short memory span in this country and a news cycle that is even shorter. Just three weeks ago we were mesmerized when a California professor, Dr. Christine Blasey Ford, riveted the country with her testimony accusing Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh of sexual assault. Her mesmerizing morning testimony was quickly eclipsed by Judge Kavanaugh’s impassioned and emotional defense in the afternoon of the same day, along with his angry accusations of partisan plots to destroy his credibility.
The tone of Kavanaugh’s defense and its impact on the midterms quickly became the dominant story. After a cursory FBI investigation, Judge Kavanaugh was confirmed to the Supreme Court and we’ve moved on: a devastating hurricane on Florida’s panhandle, a startling UN Report on climate change and the slowly unfolding evidence of the murder of Washington Post correspondent Jamal Khashoggi have shifted the focus of our collective attention.
Lost in the onslaught of this news is an important—and very human—question: now that the furor has died down, Dr. Blasey Ford, how are you doing? I mean, really, how are you doing these days? This is a pastoral question, not a political one.
Critics of your hesitation to come forward with allegations against Judge Kavanaugh seem to ignore, overlook or dismiss how hard it is for women to make such claims against powerful men. You explained your reluctance well before your Judiciary Committee appearance. You made it clear that you knew the price you would pay. Yet, in a remarkable act of bravery, the horror of sexual assault coupled with the weight of civic responsibility prompted you to set aside your fears—”I’m terrified” you told us all—and speak your truth as you know it.
The question that gives me pause today is how you are surviving the changes in your life since that fateful day of testimony (let alone the original act when you were but 15 years old). How are you doing now? When you go to work, do you wonder what others are saying, even now? Do you feel you have to justify your research on totally unrelated subjects because your testimony to the Judiciary Committee was not “officially” proven? Are you hesitant to start new projects, address new colleagues, make new friends? How do you approach your co-workers, knowing that the whole world knows your most painful and private moments? When you go to the mall, do you look over your shoulder? Do you continue to endure the endless string of inane questions that inevitably comes with celebrity status?
How is your family? Have they become wary of others? Are they angry? Confused? Sad? Are they still suffering through threats from total strangers? Are their social media accounts suspect because of hacking from unnamed cowards? How are their friendships surviving? Does the future fill them (and you) with dread or offer the hope of new adventures, new possibilities, new relationships?
The premise in my recent book, Beyond the Comma, applies to the life journey the mark of punctuation that delineates all that was before from everything that is to follow. The book explores how we navigate our lives after experiencing disruptive “comma moments.” Dr. Blasey Ford, you predicted that you would stand in front of a moving train and be annihilated. Sadly, this is exactly what happened. Judge Kavanaugh moved on to the Supreme Court, the media frenzy moved on to other topics and you returned to your once-upon-a-time life. But how are you really doing?
My heart goes out to you and your agonizing story, powerfully and poignantly told, yet eclipsed before the sun went down that same day. Was it worth it, Christine?
I, for one, believe that it was, even though you may never know its full impact. Because, I believe, there was a young girl somewhere watching your presentation, and your words gave her the courage she didn’t know she had to face her own experience of exploitation and, inspired by your selfless act, she decided that when the time was right, she would also tell her truth and the world would become a safer, more secure place.
Thank you, Dr. Christine Blasey Ford, for your courage, demonstrating the very best that our country has to offer. Know that you are not forgotten, whatever the news cycles may say.