Honestly, I’d like to write about something happy, positive, uplifting. But this week, for me, is filled with pain. I am talking about the Senate Judiciary Committee hearings for the Supreme Court nominee.
I can’t bring myself to type his name. It’s everywhere, so surely you know what it is without my help. Nor have I said the name of the sixteen-year-old who sexually assaulted me when I was thirteen.
It’s not just Dr. Christine Blasey Ford who’s reliving the terrors of sexual assault today, it’s one out of three women in the U. S. and one out of six men, according to the Center for Disease Control.
America, we have a problem here.
In the past few weeks, as details of Dr. Ford’s allegations have been released, it’s grown increasingly difficult for me to sleep, to eat, to pay attention to what I’m doing or interact with other people. It’s a deep, haunting pain that never goes away, at least not in forty-six years.
I was thirteen. I was at a party. I had not been drinking or otherwise imbibing and was not drunk. People were present who should have been watching out for me but they weren’t. I didn’t tell my parents, how could I? I was somewhere I wasn’t supposed to be and if I mentioned it I’d get other kids into trouble. That mattered a lot back then. Also, I felt deeply ashamed of what that boy had done to me.
Some other incidents that reinforce our society’s permissiveness, our normalization of sexual assault happened in my later teens. At seventeen, I was forcibly carried out of a party (beer present; the host’s parents who had provided the beer had tucked themselves away in a back room). People who should have been watching out for me cheered from the front porch, encouraging my assailant. Their excuses later- -Oh, I was so drunk I didn’t know what I was doing. I, again, had not been drinking. This time, I got away.
As a school-aged teen I drank alcohol once and once only, 2 beers in one evening. I was so ashamed and embarrassed about it I took a vow when I was confirmed as a member of the Catholic Church, not to drink until I was of legal age. And I didn’t, until I got engaged. My fiancé drank a lot. I drank rarely and little. At a party, he pointed at me and told a drinking buddy of his, “Go ahead, take her. Do what you want.” I got away on this occasion, too, but the emotional scar of being treated like property by my fiancé has never gone away.
So if you wonder why I’m not keen on parties, there’s some background. I guarantee you, if any of my assailants were nominated for Supreme Court Justice I would take my allegations to the Senate Judiciary Committee. I would definitely not want my attackers to have a say in what constitutes the Law of the Land, to have that power over the rest of us. They’ve abused their power enough already.