We Need More Women Like Christine Blasey Ford, And We Need To Believe Them

We Will Keep Sharing Our Stories, Until Every Assault Is Taken Seriously And Society Starts To #BelieveWomen

We're taught to fear men, just not to tell on them.

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As a woman, there are things in life that are extraordinarily difficult to hear.

On Friday, I listened to all of Dr. Christine Blasey Ford's testimony about Brett Kavanaugh's alleged assault, and I teared up as I listened to her describe something that so many women face on a regular basis. I cried as I reflected back on my own experiences as a woman and all the times I told myself that "It wasn't rape so it didn't count."

Tears ran down my face as I pictured my 15-year-old self, the same age as Dr. Ford was — shy, easily intimidated and so scared of doing the wrong thing.

And that's what reporting is, isn't it? The wrong thing?

Society teaches us that telling the truth is not OK. That ruining someone's life over a mistake they made is not worth it. They destroy women's characters and accuse them of drinking too much or dressing too provocatively.

Society teaches us that we brought it on ourselves.

That's what I convinced my 15-year-old self — that somehow, I'd asked my friend's brother to come into her bedroom while we were sleeping. That I'd somehow silently given him permission to take my pants off in my sleep and touch me. That something I said or did during the day granted him this right.

I continued to process that thought as I was banned from my friend's home after telling her that I saw her brother in her room while we slept, and again when her father told her we couldn't be friends anymore because I was a bad influence.

I again blamed myself when a friend developed a crush on that same guy and I couldn't explain my hatred for him, causing a rift in our friendship.

I wore the blame like a blanket, until a new assault occurred in college, when a man shoved me at a party and kissed me without my permission, while I desperately tried to push him off.

I held onto the fact that assaults were normal, and again that, "It wasn't rape so it didn't count."

I learned the true taste of fear when I was 23 years old, and a man broke into my house a couple of times but didn't take anything — causing police to believe I was being stalked. I cried as I barricaded myself in my bedroom at night, while a police car sat outside my house.

I learned the art of self-preservation when a 40-year-old man that followed me on social media, showed up to a conference I was speaking at and later sent me various messages from different accounts — even after I continually blocked him. I was taught to be "polite," so he wouldn't try to find me and hurt me.

My fears of men have only continued to grow, and so has the self-blame. We live in this cycle of both being afraid of being hurt and being afraid of telling the truth. We're taught to fear men, but not to tell on them.

I was triggered the other day when a male classmate asked if we can really persecute Kavanaugh for something he is said to have done so many years ago. Did it still matter today?

The answer to that question is YES. It still matters. It matters because it changed Dr. Ford for the rest of her life.

It matters because everything women go through and stay quiet about alters us for the rest of our lives.

It changes how we date, how we interact with others. It changes the goals we set for ourselves and our own self-esteem. It alienates us from others. It ends friendships. It changes everything.

Looking back at my 15-year-old self, I still would not have changed the course of how I handled things. I still wouldn't have reported things or told my parents.

I was embarrassed. I was scared. I didn't want my world to change. I didn't have the emotional capacity to handle the backlash.

Society is unsupportive of women reporting because they're scared of what it says about men.

And you don't have to say "not all men." I know it's not all men. I have a brother and a father and exes that have instilled the goodness of men in me. But there are still those men — the ones who strip of us of our dignity and self-esteem. The ones who make us question ourselves until we decide to report the assault.

But reporting becomes a "he said, she said" game, and everyone worries about HIS future.

But what about hers? She matters, too.

It changes her future too.

I am so tired of watching white men in power use women as toys. Dr. Ford taught me that every assault matters — everything you don't give permission for, any strike against your body you did not consent to. And it's OK to let people know. It's OK to come forward and be honest about those experiences, even if it's not the popular decision.

I believe Dr. Ford.

I believe women.

I believe me.

It wasn't rape, but it was assault, AND IT COUNTS.

Someday, men like Trump and Kavanaugh will no longer get to dictate what is right or wrong in our society. And we'll live in a place that is safe for everyone, not just privileged white men. Until then, keep sharing your experiences. Shout your truths from the rooftops.

We hear you. We believe you. We need you.

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I Might Have Aborted My Fetus When I Was 18, But Looking Back, I Saved A Child’s Life

It may have been one of the hardest decisions of my life, but I wouldn't be where I am today if I hadn't had done it.

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Due to recent political strife happening in the world today, I have decided to write on a very touchy, difficult subject for me that only a handful of people truly know.

When I was 18 years old, I had an abortion.

I was fresh out of high school, and deferring college for a year or two — I wanted to get all of my immature fun out so I was prepared to focus and work in the future. I was going through my hardcore party stage, and I had a boyfriend at the time that truly was a work of art (I mean truly).

Needless to say, I was extremely misinformed on sex education, and I never really thought it could happen to me. I actually thought I was invincible to getting pregnant, and it never really registered to me that if I had unprotected sex, I could actually get pregnant (I was 18, I never said I was smart).

I remember being at my desk job and for weeks, I just felt so nauseous and overly tired. I was late for my period, but it never really registered to me something could be wrong besides just getting the flu — it was November, which is the peak of flu season.

The first person I told was my best friend, and she came with me to get three pregnancy tests at Target. The first one came negative, however, the second two came positive.

I truly believe this was when my anxiety disorder started because I haven't been the same ever since.

Growing up in a conservative, Catholic Italian household, teen pregnancy and especially abortion is 150% frowned upon. So when I went to Planned Parenthood and got the actual lab test done that came out positive, I was heartbroken.

I felt like I was stuck between two roads: Follow how I was raised and have the child, or terminate it and ultimately save myself AND the child from a hard future.

My boyfriend at the time and I were beyond not ready. That same week, I found out he had cheated on me with his ex and finances weren't looking so great, and I was starting to go through the hardest depression of my life. Because of our relationship, I had lost so many friends and family, that I was left to decide the fate of both myself and this fetus. I could barely take care of myself — I was drinking, overcoming drug addictions, slightly suicidal and living with a man who didn't love me.

As selfish as you may think this was, I terminated the fetus and had the abortion.

I knew that if I had the child, I would be continuing the cycle in which my family has created. My goal since I was young was to break the cycle and breakaway from the toxicity in how generations of children in my family were raised. If I had this child, I can assure you my life would be far from how it is now.

If I had carried to term, I would have had a six-year old, and God knows where I would've been.

Now, I am fulfilling my future by getting a BA in Politics, Philosophy and Economics, having several student leadership roles, and looking into law schools for the future.

Although it still haunts me, and the thought of having another abortion truly upsets me, it was the best thing to ever happen to me. I get asked constantly "Do you think it's just to kill a valuable future of a child?" and my response to that is this:

It's in the hands of the woman. She is giving away her valuable future to an unwanted pregnancy, which then resentment could cause horror to both the child and the woman.

As horrible as it was for me in my personal experience, I would not be where I am today: a strong woman, who had overcome addiction, her partying stage, and ultimately got her life in order. If I would have had the child, I can assure you that I would have followed the footsteps of my own childhood, and the child would not have had an easy life.

Because of this, I saved both my life and the child's life.

And if you don't agree or you dislike this decision, tough stuff because this is my body, my decision, my choice — no one else.

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