Countless survivors of sexual trauma watched Christine Blasey Ford testify before the Senate Judiciary Committee last week, detailing as best she could the night she says a drunken, teenage Brett Kavanaugh sexually assaulted her.
Those survivors took note of her cleansing breaths; they saw the occasional tremble; and they admired Dr. Ford’s courage in choosing to use her voice — to tell her most painful story — despite the risk she would be disbelieved.
Or perhaps worse, that those powerful men before whom she sat would believe her claims and dismiss them regardless.
Dr. Ford, along with Deborah Ramirez and Julie Swetnick, risked suffering a second trauma by stepping into the public eye with their stories — and rather than treat them with the respect and dignity owed, Senate Republicans and the White House almost gleefully cast them aside as irrelevant.
President Trump eventually found his way to openly mocking Dr. Ford during a campaign rally, intentionally using her painful experience — which she said during testimony has haunted her into adulthood — as a way to rile up his base ahead of midterms.
Though the FBI was called upon to investigate the claims of Dr. Ford and Ramirez, its probe was woefully insufficient for the stated goal: to assess the veracity of the women’s accusations.
NBC News reported earlier this week that federal investigators had not and would not interview Dr. Ford:
> The White House believes Ford's public testimony to the Senate Judiciary Committee was sufficient and the FBI would be wasting its time speaking to her again about allegations of sexual assault against Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh, said a source familiar with the Trump administration's thinking.
A proper interview of the woman claiming sexual assault at the hands of a Supreme Court nominee would be a waste of time?
> Legal and law enforcement experts disagreed, telling NBC “there is much to be learned from interviewing a witness in a private setting by professional investigators who have had the opportunity to ask other witnesses about the allegations.”
Likewise, the investigation of Ramirez’s claims was perfunctory at best. Though FBI officials interviewed Kavanaugh’s second accuser for two hours, according to her attorneys, investigators disregarded numerous witnesses suggested by Ramirez’s legal counsel who could speak to her experience.
> Deborah Ramirez, who alleges Kavanaugh exposed himself while they were students at Yale, was interviewed by the FBI for two hours. Her lawyers said she provided a list of more than 20 people to corroborate her story.
According to the New Yorker story, several former Yale classmates who claim to have information regarding the alleged incident with Ramirez said they were not contacted by the FBI.
The FBI opted to dismiss Swetnick’s claims entirely, interviewing not one witness or Swetnick herself in the course of their investigation.
The Senate Judiciary Committee chose to publicly smear Swetnick by publishing the account of a man who described with great detail what he said were her sexual preferences — all in an attempt to discredit her claims.
Few sexual trauma survivors likely could imagine much worse in coming forward with their stories, from being dismissed outright to being believed but relegated to the periphery — to have one’s deep emotional pain handled with all the care of a minor distraction.
It was as though the White House and Republican leadership said to these women, “There, there, sweetie — we let you say your piece, now let us get back to our important business.”
A vote on Kavanaugh’s confirmation reportedly could happen as soon as Saturday.
And with that, Republicans have traumatized these women for a second time.