The vile treatment of Christine Blasey Ford is exactly why sexual assault victims don’t come forward

If we’ve learned anything in the few short days since Brett Kavanaugh’s accuser revealed her identity, it’s that we should never again wonder why most sexual assault victims don’t come forward.

The vile attacks against Christine Blasey Ford have been relentless, coming not only from internet trolls and your crazy uncle on Facebook, but also from high-profile conservatives like Donald Trump, Jr, Fox News host Laura Ingraham and radio host Mark Levin, with these same sentiments being endorsed even by Trump administration officials.

Many of the refrains are familiar and tired, such as, “Why is she just now coming forward, 35 years later?”

It’s actually not that hard to understand at all.  It is unfortunately all too common for sexual assault victims to never report, or to never tell anyone about their assault (42 percent never tell a soul). So it’s not strange in the least that someone might stay silent, even for decades, until their assailant suddenly becomes inescapable — fueling hours of cable news punditry, ceaselessly discussed in social media feeds — and is on the verge of being appointed to the highest court in the land, becoming one of the most powerful figures in the US justice system, for life.

It is important to note that it’s not like Ford ‘waited until now.’ She is on record discussing it with her therapist in 2012, and disclosing the attack to her husband ten years prior, in 2002. She has taken, and passed, a polygraph test. While all of this is not proof of a crime, it also does not appear to be an instance of someone fabricating a story out of the blue for political purposes.

To be clear, Kavanaugh should not be presumed guilty of Ford’s allegations, although many seem to think that, if true, the allegations aren’t that bad. I have personally heard statements like, “That kind of thing was normal in the 80s!” or “The allegations sound like every raunchy teen movie there is,” or “Is he supposed to be a saint?”

I was a teen in the 80s and it was in no way normal to hold a woman down while ripping off her bathing suit and placing a hand over her mouth and nose to muffle the screams. I don’t remember any teen comedies where that happened — although I’ve seen some horror movies that might fit the bill. And no, we don’t need our justices to be saints, but we also don’t owe sexual batterers a SCOTUS appointment.

If Kavanaugh didn’t do what he is being accused of, then he can be confirmed and take his seat on the SCOTUS. If he did do it, then I feel pretty confident that we can find a SCOTUS nominee who hasn’t sexually assaulted someone, and one who doesn’t blatantly lie to the American people.

It’s a lifetime appointment. I think we can all take a minute or two to hear from Kavanaugh, Ford, and potential witnesses, to look at the evidence, and to proceed in a logical, deliberate manner from there. What’s the rush?

While we wait, maybe we could stop questioning another person’s justifications for disclosing (or not disclosing) sexual assault, or for the timing of said disclosure.  Maybe it wouldn’t hurt us to listen. Anything else is simply being part of the problem.

Eric Shepherd

About Eric Shepherd

Eric is a marketing professional working and living in Portland, ME. His writing on politics, science, and culture has appeared on,, and other national and regional outlets. Eric is also a public speaker on topics related to branding, social media, and cause marketing. He spent 10 years as a recording and touring musician. He has lived up and down the East Coast, but loves Portland the very most.