Thompson: Kavanaugh allegations illustrate why victims choose to not come forward

Madison Thompson

Editor’s Note: All opinion section content reflects the views of the individual author only and does not represent a stance taken by The Collegian or its editorial board.

Nominee for the Supreme Court, Judge Brett Kavanaugh, has been accused of sexual assault by two women.

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Christine Ford, a professor at Palo Alto University, said he attempted to rape her in high school. Deborah Ramirez, originally from Boulder and an undergraduate classmate of Kavanaugh at Yale University, states they were at a party where he exposed himself.

Despite these accusations, where one was documented in her therapists notes, many politicians and even President Trump have come out in support of Judge Kavanaugh.

The rise of the #MeToo movement illustrates the fact that as long as we continue to demonize those who report sexual misconduct more than we do those who actually commit it, a culture of violence and misogyny is unavoidable.

Many believe that when a sexual assault occurs, it is evidently in the victims best interest to come forth with an accusation as soon as possible. Unfortunately, it usually comes down to a game of he-said-she-said, which is partly due to widespread misconceptions about false reports and the nature of sexual assault in general.

More often than not the assault occurs between two people who know each other. It sometimes take a period of processing for a victim to realize there was an assault.

 

The hashtag #WhyIDidntReport is trending on twitter in response of President’s Trump’s criticism of Ford and Ramirez waiting so long to come forward. Many victims have used this as an opportunity to explains the implications that kept them from speaking up and reporting their sexual assault experiences. 

People are often accused of falsifying their claims, but this inherently disregards the fact that most do not want to be known as a person who was sexually assaulted.

They do not want to constantly recount a traumatic experience and have people visualize them in that vulnerable situation. Especially when it is for a system that continually fails victims.

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The allegations and issues surrounding Kavanaugh are certainly familiar to Colorado State University. Last June, Christina Boucher, a now former professor in the Department of Computer Science, filed a lawsuit against the University and three professors on the grounds of discrimination after coming forward with her story of sexual harassment.

Boucher claims her performance reviews were dealt a blow after reporting the harassment. Boucher was routinely left out of important meetings headed by her harasser including meetings related to her research and her graduate student advisees, as well as being removed from a student’s thesis committee.

Boucher said this affected her ability to perform her job which her harasser used against her as a means to give negative reviews and subsequently derailed her from gaining a tenure-track position. 

This is all too similar to the persecution that Ford and many others have faced since choosing to tell their story. Ford has dealt with harassment, threats, online impersonation and has even been forced to move her and her family out of their home. 

This not atypical. People who speak up about their assault and experiences, even someone like Terry Crews the former NFL linebacker, are hesitant to share their stories in fear of backlash. 

In order to move past this culture of violence and misogyny we have surrounding sexual assault, we have to take the responsibility upon ourselves to change how victims and those who commit acts of sexual assault and harassment are viewed. 

Editor’s note: A previous version of this article incorrectly stated that former Colorado State University professor Christina Boucher reported being assaulted by another professor at the University. Boucher did not report that she was assaulted. She reported that she was sexually harassed by another professor.

Madison Thompson can be reached at letters@collegian.com or online @heyymadison.