The National Task Force to End Sexual and Domestic Violence (NTF) calls on Congress to postpone the vote on the nomination of Judge Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court until a comprehensive, bipartisan, and respectful investigation into the allegations raised by Dr. Christine Blasey Ford has been completed. Dr. Blasey Ford has indicated, through counsel, that she is prepared to testify publicly, and her voice should be heard before Congress does anything further relating to the Kavanaugh nomination.
The member organizations of the NTF represent millions of survivors of domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault and stalking, the professionals who serve these survivors, the faith organizations that support them, the schools that educate them, and the businesses and communities that care about them throughout the United States and territories. The NTF has worked for twenty years to ensure that federal, tribal, state, and local governments and communities address the pervasive and insidious crimes of domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault and stalking. We are dedicated to keeping survivors safe and free from continuing trauma, while holding perpetrators accountable.
Our national culture still fails to recognize the impact of these crimes on survivors. On too many occasions, survivors are blamed for the crimes they have suffered. On too many occasions, survivors’ personal lives are upended and subjected to often prurient scrutiny, exposing them to re-victimizing trauma. On too many occasions, offenders are not held accountable and worse, receive more support and empathy than the victims of their crimes. It is no wonder that so many survivors hesitate to come forward.
As we all learned on Sunday, Dr. Christine Blasey Ford, a college professor, provided confidential information to Senator Feinstein in the form of a letter alleging that Judge Kavanaugh had sexually assaulted her when both of them were in high school. She provided Congresswoman Anna Eshoo and Senator Feinstein with evidence related to her statement, but also asked that both lawmakers keep the information confidential, out of fear of “annihilation” at the hands of Congress and the media.
Senator Feinstein’s and Congresswoman Eshoo’s offices each had an important policy of providing confidentiality to victims of crime, in order to ensure their safety and to protect them from trauma, and so neither office released any information they received from Dr. Blasey Ford. We applaud their decision.
Yet even though Congresswoman Eshoo and Senator Feinstein honored Dr. Blasey Ford’s request for confidentiality, others did not, and her story was leaked to the media. And as public speculation increased, Dr. Blasey Ford has said she realized that her wish to keep the information confidential was hopeless. As the Washington Post reported on Sunday:
“As the story snowballed, Ford said, she heard people repeating inaccuracies about her and, with the visits from reporters, felt her privacy being chipped away. Her calculation changed.
“These are all the ills that I was trying to avoid,” she said, explaining her decision to come forward. “Now I feel like my civic responsibility is outweighing my anguish and terror about retaliation.”
Those last six words of her statement are painfully familiar to survivors of sexual assault and the victim advocates who help them.
Again and again, we have seen the vilification of women who come forward to share their experiences of violence at the hands of powerful men. Many survivors do not want to make their identities public, because they expect to be excoriated and re-victimized by complete strangers in the media and on Twitter, Facebook, in emails, or in text messages.
Now that the Dr. Christine Blasey Ford has come forward publicly, it is imperative that the Senate allow time for her credible allegations to be fully investigated by postponing the vote on Judge Kavanaugh. Survivors throughout our nation are watching to see how this is handled, and as victim advocates, we urge the Senate Judiciary Committee to treat Dr. Ford with the respect and consideration she deserves.
For more information, please contact Terri Poore at firstname.lastname@example.org.