Christine Blasey Ford, the California psychology professor who alleges that Brett Kavanaugh sexually assaulted her when the two were in high school, testified to the Senate Judiciary Committee on Thursday.
Ford, who first made her allegations known in a letter to members of the Judiciary Committee, provided a detailed account of the alleged assault during her opening statement. She says Kavanaugh pinned her to a bed, groped her, and held his hand over her mouth as she screamed, and described the effect the alleged attack had on her life, how she came to the decision to make her allegations public, and how that choice has impacted her family.
“I am here today not because I want to be. I am terrified. I am here because I believe it is my civic duty,” she said, according to prepared remarks she released Wednesday.
Ford said it took her years to say anything about the alleged assault to anyone. And she described how she struggled with the trauma of it for years and first named Kavanaugh as her attacker during a couples counseling session in May 2012, detailing the incident to her therapist.
“Brett’s assault on me drastically altered my life. For a very long time, I was too afraid and ashamed to tell anyone the details,” she said, later adding, “I did my best to suppress memories of the assault because recounting the details caused me to relive the experience, and caused panic attacks and anxiety.”
Ford said that while she confided in a few friends about the alleged assault in the subsequent years, calling her attacker a prominent Washington lawyer and judge, she didn’t name Kavanaugh outside of therapy until July, when she saw media reports that he was on Trump’s short list for the Supreme Court. She then made the decision to contact her congresswoman’s office and The Washington Post’s confidential tip line.
In the weeks that followed, Ford said she “agonized daily” over whether to go public with her allegations, and revealed the threats and harassment she and her family have experienced since she came forward in a Sept. 16 Post report.
She said that while she and her family have received an “outpouring” of support from friends, her community, and strangers across the country, they’ve also been the targets of “constant harassment and death threats” and “been called the most vile and hateful names imaginable.”
“My greatest fears have been realized – and the reality has been far worse than what I expected,” she said, adding that she and her family were forced out of their Palo Alto home and have been living in “various secure locals, with guards” for the last 10 days.
The professor insisted that she is not motivated by political opposition to Kavanaugh, but instead by a desire to better inform lawmakers about a man who could serve a life term on the country’s highest court.
“I am a fiercely independent person and I am no one’s pawn,” she said. “My motivation in coming forward was to provide the facts about how Mr. Kavanaugh’s actions have damaged my life, so that you can take that into serious consideration as you make your decision about how to proceed.”
Since Ford came forward, two other women have made sexual misconduct allegations against Kavanaugh. Deborah Ramirez alleges that Kavanaugh exposed himself to her and thrust his penis in her face while the two were undergraduates at Yale University. And Julie Swetnick said Kavanaugh engaged in “abusive and physically aggressive behavior toward girls” at house parties in high school in the early 1980s and was present when she was “gang raped” by a group of teenage boys at one of these parties. Kavanaugh has vehemently denied all of the allegations.