Coming forward threw her life into chaos and her testimony riveted the country, but she hasnt discussed her plans for the future
When Christine Blasey Ford stepped before the Senate judiciary committee to detail her alleged assault by Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh when they were both teenagers, she was, in her own words, terrified.
She described an attack that she said had jolted her life even before the man whom she alleges is responsible for it became a nominee to the countrys highest court. Before her account became public and threw his nomination into jeopardy, and before she became one of the most visible sexual assault accusers since the advent of the #MeToo movement.
Ford, 51, recounted insisting that two front doors be fitted when she and her husband remodeled their home. She suffered, she said, from anxiety and post-traumatic stress symptoms, including claustrophobia and panic disorder. She struggled academically at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and had trouble forming new friendships, especially with boys.
Yet Ford moved on and across the country leaving the well-off suburban Maryland area where she grew up and attended the all-girls private school Holton-Arms, and established herself as a well-respected professor of psychology at Palo Alto University and researcher at Stanford. Some of her research dealt with how people recover after trauma. She married her husband Russell Ford more than fifteen years ago, and they had two children.
Now that life has been upended, Ford has become a political lightning rod and a symbol for millions of American women all too familiar with powerful men getting away with bad behavior. After her appearance before the Senate committee that riveted people across the country, its unlikely if shell ever be able to completely fade back into anonymity.
I have experienced an outpouring of support from people in every state of this country. Thousands of people who have had their lives dramatically altered by sexual violence have reached out to share their own experiences with me and have thanked me for coming forward, Ford said in her testimony.
At the same time, my greatest fears have been realized, and the reality has been far worse than what I expected. My family and I have been the target of constant harassment and death threats. I have been called the most vile and hateful names imaginable.
She and her family moved out of their home after their address was posted online, and since 16 September have been living in various secure locations, with security guards. Ford said her work e-mail was hacked, sending out messages purporting to be from her, recanting her description of the sexual assault.
Fords colleagues have described her as dedicated, exacting, and academically rigorous. She is passionate about her work, dedicated to her students, and a wonderful colleague and contributor to the field of psychology, Palo Alto University said in a statement.
She brought up the assault tentatively at first, hoping to remain anonymous, but ended up speaking out first in an interview with the Washington Post and then before the Senate because she said she felt it was her civic duty.
After being thrust into the center of a national drama, Ford has not discussed her plans moving forward. Theres perhaps just one other person whos been in a similar position: Anita Hill, who accused Justice Clarence Thomas of sexual harassment, testified at high-profile hearings in 1991, and saw him nonetheless win confirmation to the Supreme Court. Both women have received a lot of public support in the past week.
Hill was grilled aggressively and faced attacks on her credibility, whereas senators were careful to avoid directly criticizing Ford, preferring to hand off their interrogation to a female prosecutor.
Hill, a law professor at Brandeis University, said she would advise Ford now to be authentic and do what feels right for you to do.
In an interview with the Associated Press, she noted that when she started giving speeches after her 1991 testimony, some people called the addresses boring. I said, Thats who I am, Hill said.
Dont do anything thats going to dehumanize you and cause you great pain and trauma, she advised.
Out of the blue, a hero steps up and Im in awe. I know the pain of these kinds of memories, Dr Ford. Memories that are indelibly imprinted on your brain no matter how many years go by. I, like millions of women across America, are behind you and thank you profoundly, the actress Sally Field said on Twitter. TV personality and comedian Ellen DeGeneres also tweeted her admiration.
Read more: http://www.theguardian.com/us