In Kathleen Parker’s Sept. 16 op-ed, “Last-minute accusations won’t doom Kavanaugh,” Ms. Parker wrote: “So here we are debating an adolescent boy’s qualifications to become a Supreme Court justice. What’s next, his potty training?” Given that Ms. Parker’s opinion piece was written before Christine Blasey Ford’s public statements about Supreme Court nominee Brett M. Kavanaugh, I’m hoping she reconsiders this flip statement.
At 16, I was sexually assaulted. Sexual assault never leaves you — it alters every next step you take for life. Running on a path alone? No, thank you. Parking garages at night? Opening the door when alone? No.
It is a gut punch for me when, every time, the instinct for many is to question the victim’s actions in that moment. Ms. Ford has my highest appreciation, and Americans need to understand she will suffer for telling the truth.
Susan Scott, Arlington
I’m a 71-year-old woman who, in the 1960s at the age of around 18, had a similar experience to that alleged by professor Christine Blasey Ford. In my case, however, there were three young men involved; the oldest took me to an “end-of-summer party” at a friend’s house. Before we left for our date, he sat in our living room, and my father had “the Talk” with him as to how he was to treat me and keep me safe. But my parents failed to give me “the Talk” about how to keep myself safe when out on a date.
Saying the experience changed my life is not hyperbole. My sense of self was shaken to my core. I was afraid I would be beaten or not survive the evening. I was afraid of what the men would do in the following days and months. I could no longer trust any man. I felt I needed to marry someone who could protect me so nothing like that could happen again. I was afraid to tell my parents what happened, because I was afraid my father would go looking for the men and kill the one most responsible.
It was more than 20 years before I ever told anyone what happened.
I am incensed by people who do not understand the extent of the impact of the alleged experience on Ms. Ford.
J. Catherine Sutter, Fort Mill, S.C.
I am writing in response to the many articles written recently regarding the alleged high school assault of Christine Blasey Ford by Brett M. Kavanaugh, but in particular to comment on Marc A. Thiessen’s Sept. 20 online column, “How much evidence do we need to destroy someone?” As a woman who has been sexually assaulted by members of the male sex, I can honestly say that I feel for Ms. Ford and the fear she experienced in that moment. I was assaulted twice. The first time I was only 13 years old. I do not know how I got away, but I fought tooth and nail to escape and did. These young men were not monsters. Indeed, I know for a fact that one of them was very sorry.
Many of us have done things in our youth of which we are not proud, me included. Often we learn from these things and move on, never to repeat them. These errors of judgment should not define our entire lives. There is such a thing as forgiveness and redemption. I truly feel that, even if this allegation is true, unless it becomes clear that Mr. Kavanaugh has continued to perpetuate acts of aggression against women, then we as a society must move on, in gratitude that one man has learned from his mistakes and become a person of honor and integrity as so many claim Mr. Kavanaugh to be. Hanging Mr. Kavanaugh is not going to help Ms. Ford or this country.
Mary Glaser, Frederick
A group of my male classmates assaulted me in a New Jersey shopping mall parking lot nearly 40 years ago. I have no indication whatever that any of those men regret their actions or would act differently today. You can, therefore, be sure that, should I learn one of them was nominated to the Supreme Court, I would hope to find the courage to do exactly as Christine Blasey Ford has done.
I’m calling on every man who has ever assaulted a woman to acknowledge what you did. There’s no statute of limitations on telling the truth and apologizing.
Ruth Moors D'Eredita, Vienna
In the 1980s, social norms didn’t treat incidents such as the one alleged by Christine Blasey Ford as noteworthy or memorable.
I remember a pool party in high school when a group of guys chased a girl with the goal of stripping her. In my memory, they surrounded her and started to pull down her swimsuit, but backed off before removing it completely. I recall no one treating this as a big deal, either in the moment or later. I remember worrying, but feeling helpless.
Anna Hebner, Arlington
I was sexually abused. I told no one for some 40 years.
Here is my take on Christine Blasey Ford: She is very brave. She did not want to come forward but was outed. In being willing to come forward after being outed, she is risking damage to her career, reputation and family. I applaud her courage.
I have not been outed, but I am coming forward publicly in support of Ms. Ford and all young girls, preteens, teens and young women who have been sexually abused but fear they cannot come forward. This is my moment of courage.
Deirdre E. Donahue, Arlington
Years ago, when I experienced a sexual assault, I delayed seeking help from my employer because I remembered so clearly what happened to Anita Hill when she came forward.
I think back to that time as I hear the Republican response to Christine Blasey Ford’s accusation of attempted rape, which has been not been focused on finding the truth but on neutralizing the threat to Brett M. Kavanaugh’s confirmation to the Supreme Court before the midterm elections.
Lisa Robeson, Bluffton, Ohio
As I write, I sense the fear and anger I felt more than 50 years ago when I was a young teacher for the Defense Department’s overseas schools, and I had to fight off a military officer with whom I’d just had dinner by slamming the door to my residence on his hand to prevent him from entering.
I never came close to reporting the incident, a proverbial “he said, she said” situation, but I have always wondered why the presumption of truth and innocence predominately goes to the “he.”
Elaine Montgomery, Reston