Yesterday’s testimony by Professor Christine Blasey Ford about being sexually assaulted by Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh was a testimony to the bravery and courage of survivors everywhere. A sympathetic, articulate, and well spoken individual, Ford highlighted the deep trauma and pain that victims of sexual assault bear everyday.
Alternately, Kavanaugh and the Republican men on the Senate Judiciary Committee demonstrated a complete lack of empathy for women who have experienced sexual assault. And according to the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network (RAINN), there are 321,500 victims of rape and sexual assault in the US each year – one every 98 seconds.
Despite the cold reception she received, one of the unintended consequences of Ford’s testimony yesterday was the empowerment of women to come forward with their stories and reports of sexual assault. As millions of women listened to Ford detail her experiences, then listened to Kavanaugh and the all male Republican squad gnash their teeth, wail, and defend allegations of sexual assault, women started calling the National Sexual Assault Hotline in record numbers to detail their own experiences.
Time Magazine has reported that the hotline saw a 147 percent increase in calls yesterday, “compared to a normal workday.” The obvious correlation? The testimony of Ford. RAINN asserts that when sexual assault is in the news-cycle, there is always a concomitant spike in reports. However, yesterday’s numbers exist outside of anything which might be deemed normative; more so, given the fierce defense of Kavanaugh that took place on the Senate floor.
There are now three allegations of sexual assault and misconduct against Kavanaugh, the last being alleged by Julie Swetnick, who claims that the judge and his friends would get women drunk so they could be “gang raped.” The Senate Judicial Committee has announced that it will vote today on the fate of Kavanaugh, in what has been one of the most politically outrageous episodes of our hyper-partisan times.
*RAINN’s National Sexual Assault Hotline can be reached at: 800.656.HOPE (4673)