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#WhyIDidntReport, Mr. Trump

By Martie Hevia | Blue Beach Song™

Last night on Twitter, via the hashtag #WhyIDidntReport, a crescendo of voices grew as thousands of people, from here and around the world, shared why they never reported being sexually assaulted. (I never did.) Although Mr. Trump was the catalyst, the show of support is for Dr. Christine Blasey Ford, who will bravely testify next Thursday, September 27, 2018, before the Senate Judiciary Committee. Survivors will be with her in spirit.

By now you have probably heard that Donald Trump nominated Judge Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court and the Senate held a contentious nomination hearing over the course of four days. The hearing exposed accusations that Kavanaugh knowingly received stolen documents, had met with Trump lawyers, had questionable finances, and had plans to overturn Roe v. Wade, among many other things. Nonetheless, after the hearing, it appeared that Mr. Trump’s nominee was well on his way to becoming the next Supreme Court Justice of the United States.

And then a sad thing happened on the way to the nomination, a serious allegation emerged.

A local professor from Palo Alto University, Dr. Christine Blasey Ford, accused Judge Kavanaugh of attempting to rape her at a party in Maryland in the summer of 1982, when he was 17 and she was 15 years old.

Judge Kavanaugh denies it. His friend, Mark Judge, who allegedly was also in the room during the assault, says he does not remember the incident and refuses to testify.

Under normal Senate procedures and past practices, the Senate Judiciary Committee would have forwarded the allegations to the White House, who would have handed them off to the FBI for investigation, and then the White House would have used the updated FBI report to decide whether to withdraw or push on with their nominee. That’s how it was handled when Anita Hill made her allegations against Clarence Thomas, who now sits on the Supreme Court. And that is how it has been handled for all other judges nominated by Presidents, including other Trump nominees.

DnpGtkVU8AEi83i.jpg largeDr. Blasey Ford, who passed a polygraph test on the matter, specifically asked for the FBI to investigate her allegations in advance of her testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee, as per protocol. However, Senator Grassley, the Republican chair of this committee, and President* Trump refuse to ask the FBI to investigate.

Instead, Mr. Trump opted to publicly doubt the veracity of Dr. Blasey’s account, dismissing the entire thing as nothing more than “part of a partisan effort by Democrats” to derail the nomination, claiming that it is hard to imagine that Judge Kavanaugh, “a fine man, with an impeccable reputation,” would have done such thing, and, if it were true, she would have reported the incident 36 years ago.

In response to Mr. Trump’s remarks and as a show of solidarity with Dr. Blasey, the Twitter universe erupted last night with women and men, young and old, straight and gay, showing their support for Dr. Blasey by sharing their personal painful stories of sexual assault and their reasons for not reporting them via the hashtag: #WhyIDidntReport.

No, Dr. Blasey did not report her assault, but that is the norm for sexual assault survivors. Statistics show that most people don’t report being sexually assaulted or raped and most will never tell a soul.

I never did.

Decades passed before I mentioned to anyone just one of the assaults perpetrated on me, and even then, I didn’t share any details. It was, and it still is, too painful and too private to share. I have the deepest respect for any sexual assault survivor, who is brave enough to talk about it publicly, as Dr. Blasey Ford is doing. As thousands did last night.

The raw courage of the people who were sharing their #WhyIDidntReport stories on Twitter was so moving that I couldn’t let them jump off into the darkness alone. There was safety and strength in numbers. A chorus of voices shouting into the night. Shouting at Trump, “Can you hear us now?

And so I jumped with them.

In truth, I stared at the screen for a long time before I jumped. I wrote and deleted many times. And then I held my breath, hit the tweet button, and it was out there. It was after one in the morning and not many people would see it, but it was out there. And that terrified me. I did not sleep the entire night, as I read more and more people’s #WhyIDidn’tReport stories. The tweets kept appearing all night. I cried. I was angry. Why are there so many of us?

After adding my voice to the chorus of reasons for not reporting the sexual assaults, I remembered other instances earlier and later than the ages I listed, lesser incidents that perhaps don’t rise to the level of sexual assault, but are inappropriate, hurtful and demeaning, nonetheless. Words matter, they have power. No doubt, there were many of us reading those tweets last night and recalling things we had buried. Perhaps, we all bury ticking time bombs that get triggered unexpectedly, exploding shards of memories, as they did last night for so many of us.

Regardless of how young or old you are, it is terrifying. You feel broken and vulnerable; humiliated and embarrassed. You don’t want to disappoint anyone or to have them think less of you. You don’t want people treating you differently or avoiding you. You don’t want to anger or hurt, or upset, or get anyone in trouble. You don’t want to be blamed or not believed. You don’t want to be questioned. You don’t want to talk about it. You don’t want anyone’s pity. You want to ignore it, bury it, compartmentalize it. You want to move on. You want to forget. But you never really can.

In truth, there are countless reasons why sexual assault survivors never report or tell anyone about the sexual assaults they have survived, and those reasons vary from person to person, from assault to assault, and from age to age.

These reasons for not reporting the assault sometimes stem from the confusion as to what constitutes a sexual assault. The definition varies with the times and with the gender. Boys will be boys? No means no? Does groping count? Does the relationship matter? Does the circumstance matter? Does the age matter? Do the clothes matter? Does your sexual orientation matter? Does the status, or wealth, or class of the perpetrator or the victim matter?

In the end, whatever your reason, you don’t owe anyone an explanation as to why you didn’t report such a personal violation. Do what you need to do to move on with your life or to cope or to forget, if you can. You may not even have a reason you can articulate. That’s okay, too. You don’t need one. You don’t owe an explanation to anyone.

As time goes on, you cannot help but wonder, “Why me?” You try to figure out why you were attacked, what made you such a target. Were you in the wrong place at the wrong time? Did you say or do or wear something that made you a target? Is there a certain kind of person you should avoid, like “fine” people with “impeccable” reputations?

Some people believe it is only rape if the perpetrator is a stranger, who ties you up or beats you up. But, more often that not, you will know and trust your attacker. They may be charming. They may have important or respectable jobs. You may even be in a relationship with them. They hide in plain sight with perfect disguises of respectability.

Many people who shared their stories on Twitter identified their attackers as family members, priests, teachers, coaches, personal friends, family friends, neighbors, husbands, boyfriends, co-workers, supervisors, and others whom they knew well.

Most attacks are not videotaped or witnessed, so proving it is difficult. Most survivors receive threats and fear retaliation if they tell anyone. Many survivors fear that law enforcement or their own loved ones will blame them or not believe them. So, most sexual attacks go unreported.

However, even when there is DNA evidence and the sexual assaults get reported, law enforcement puts such little importance on this crime, that across the United States there are tens of thousands of untested rape kits. Yes, that’s right, DNA evidence that could put away a rapist and prevent future victims, but the rape kits go untested, deteriorating with time.

Perhaps, Mr. Trump, if you read some of the stories shared through #WhyIDidntReport, you can begin to understand how an upstanding Judge, when he was a drunken 17-year-old, could have raped a 15-year-old girl, and how that 15-year-old girl may have been too afraid to report it to the authorities or to tell anyone, including her parents.

Good people do bad things. And bad things are most often done in private. Husbands beat their wives in private. A parent physically or mentally or emotionally abuses their child in private. A deviant rapes or sexually assaults his victim in private. And sometimes the perpetrators of these bad deeds hide under the cover of being fine, upstanding members of society, with impeccable reputations.

Mr. Trump, please ask the FBI to investigate. Dr. Blasey took a lie detector test and passed. She wants and is asking for an FBI investigation. Judge Kavanaugh should want his name cleared. And you should want for your legacy and the country a Supreme Court Justice who is not tainted by an allegation of attempted rape.

Let the FBI investigate. And then let the chips fall where they may.

Martie Hevia (c) 2018 | All Rights Reserved


2 Comments leave one →
  1. Voter Against the Illegitimate SCOTUS Nominee permalink
    2018-September-23 1:21 PM

    It’s obvious that Kavanaugh is unfit to get a lifetime appointment to our highest court. However, if this nominee (nominated by an illegitimate president) is approved by this extremely partisan senate, with their corrupted process, then he will be considered an illegitimate Supreme Court Justice.

    • 2018-September-23 1:24 PM

      Thanks Voter Against. Let us hope that the Senate does the right thing and give Dr. Blasey Ford fair consideration and allow the FBI to investigate her allegations. Unfortunately, Senators like Lindsey Graham have said that regardless of what she might say, they are voting to confirm Judge Kavanaugh. Thanks for reading and for your comment! -Martie | Blue Beach Song

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