Today, much of the United States have been glued to their tv screens, computers, tablets, and smartphones, watching the sickening spectacle of Dr. Christine Blasey Ford and Judge Brett Kavanaugh as they gave emotional testimonies before the Judiciary Committee. After watching Dr. Ford being questioned over 3 hours, I have to say that she was sympathetic and credible. There’s one thing that I wanted to address that the Republicans and Rachel Mitchell, the Republican sex crimes prosecutor who was hired to question both Dr. Ford and Judge Kavanaugh seem to be obsessed with. How is that Dr. Ford can remember in such detail the actual assault, but not other things like the exact date and time of the party, how she got there, and whose house it was. I’m going to share something that I’ve only shared with my husband, that may not provide a full explanation, but maybe put things in perspective. When I was a freshman or sophomore in high school, I was assaulted by two of my fellow classmates. It happened after either a football or basketball pep rally. They both played multiple sports. In a deserted hallway, somewhere near the field house they managed to corner me. At 14 or 15, I was a skinny, flat-chested theater geek. The two boys were popular sports players. I remember them taunting me and demanding to see if I had anything under my bra. I remember crying and pleading with them to let me go. I remember one of them grabbing my right breast and joking that his little sister had “bigger boobs.” I remember him sticking his hand down my shirt. At that point somewhere in an adjacent hallway, there was a loud bang. I think maybe another student had closed their locker door. The way the building’s acoustics were, every sound was always magnified. Regardless, the noise startled all of us. I took advantage of the distraction and was able to push between the two of them and run, although not before my shirt got ripped. I never told anyone what happened because I was ashamed and humiliated. It wasn’t until years later, when one of my tormentors wound up in legal trouble for attacking his girlfriend, that I even told my husband. As you can see, while I can remember the actual assault with almost 100% clarity, there are other things I don’t remember such as the exact year (1979 or 1980), or the exact location beyond it being a hallway near where the pep rally had taken place. I can’t even remember if the pep rally was for the football or basketball team. However, 40 or so years later I still remember their names, how they smelled, the looks on their faces, and I’ll never forget that feeling of complete and utter helplessness.
Sharing this with you was not an easy decision. I didn’t realize how much this incident from four decades ago still bothered me until Dr. Christine Blasey Ford courageously stepped forward because although she was terrified, she felt it was her civic duty. The point to all this is that memories, traumatic memories can be tricky, but that doesn’t mean they’re not real.