As Dominican Sisters of Peace, we committed to “promote justice through solidarity with those who are marginalized, especially women and children, and work with others to identify and transform oppressive systems.” I can’t think of a more oppressive system than the one that condones sexual assault and abuse of women and children.
I have never been sexually assaulted so I can only imagine what Professor Christine Blasey Ford must be going through. She was attacked as a teenager during a party where drinking was going on. What must have gone on in her head and heart after the assault? Shame – was I responsible for it? Terror – What if my parents find out? Will my reputation by ruined? Fear – will he do it again? Will he tell other boys and they will attack me? Confusion – how did I let myself get into this mess? Hopelessness – How can I trust a boy/man again? Trauma affects victims in many different ways.
Sadly, we often see the victim ignored, shamed, or treated as the perpetrator. It’s a double whammy – assaulted twice – once by the attacker and then by those who are supposed to help. Professor Ford is now in danger of a third possible attack by the Senate Justice Committee. Once again, a victim is not taken seriously… a woman is not heard.
20% of women – 1 in 5 – are victims of rape and 43.3% of heterosexual women have reported sexual violence other than rape in their lifetime (National Sexual Violence Resource Center). These women should not be ignored. It boils down to the fundamental principal of Catholic Social Teaching – that each and every person deserves dignity.
Why did she come forward now? I don’t know. Perhaps she saw the possible impact on women in the future with Judge Kavanaugh as a supreme court justice. Perhaps the #MeToo movement gave her the courage to speak up. By all accounts, her actions have irrevocably impacted her life and that of her family.
I recently watched an interview of some women who are supportive of Judge Kavanaugh. Their argument for dismissing this issue was that it happened in high school. That they were young. That boys will be boys. I find this argument especially insulting for young men. They are perfectly able to understand right and wrong and assaulting a girl/women is wrong. Today’s parents of young men must teach their sons about treating others, especially women, with respect and dignity.
As I write this, it seems clear to me that Dr. Ford is innocent. The women above are just as sure that Judge Kavanaugh is innocent. Without an adequate investigation, there will never be a resolution and doubt will remain. This is too important to leave it up to the testimony of just the two involved; for in addition to selecting a Supreme Court Justice, a true measure of whether women’s concerns, dignity, and voices are truly equal to men’s also lies in the balance.