Investigations into Kavanaugh’s past conduct sparks social media movement

As multiple allegations about Kavanaugh are investigated, Trump’s tweets spark onslaught of survivors sharing stories about why they didn’t report

More stories from Julia Van Allen

Seeking Solace
May 13, 2019

Let’s talk about sexual assault, victim blaming and the fact that many survivors don’t have the option to report their attackers.

I am angry because of how the sexual assault allegations against Brett Kavanaugh are being treated by people in power. I am angry that the testimonies of trauma survivors are being doubted and pushed off to the side because of the timeliness of the allegations coming to light.

Christine Blasey Ford, the first woman to accuse Kavanaugh of sexual assault,  is pushing for an in-depth investigation of her claims; she wants all of the information to be laid out on the table and for the facts  to speak for themselves. Meanwhile, Brett Kavanaugh is hesitant to dig up the past.

When someone is accused sexual assault, the discussion always focuses on their victim’s credibility. The victims of these heinous crimes are told that their allegations will ruin the perpetrator’s life, but there is never talk of how the crime affects them.

President Donald Trump tweeted regarding the efficacy of Ford’s allegation, arguing that if the alleged assault was as bad as she said it was, she or her parents would have brought it to the attention of local authorities.

This argument rubs me the wrong way. What Trump fails to realize is that the system is stacked against sexual assault victims from the start. The lines of questioning they need to answer are biased towards the perpetrator before the victim has a chance to tell her story.

Let’s be honest — would you ask someone who was the victim of a burglary what they were wearing and if they were asking for it? No. You wouldn’t. Would you ask someone whose had their identity stolen if they’d had a drink or two before the crime occurred? No.

Trump’s unending support for  Kavanaugh is bringing to light the inherent bias within the legal and political systems. focus on how accusations affect the alleged perpetrator without thinking of how the crime itself has dramatically altered the life of the survivor.

I use the word ‘survivor’ in the context of sexual assault crimes because those who have experienced this type of violence are total badasses who deserve so much more than this half-hearted support from a policing system where, according to, a site devoted to ending rape kit backlogging, there are hundreds of thousands untested rape kits nationwide.

Trump’s tweet has sparked a surge of responses on social media, mainly from survivors of sexual assault sharing their reasons for not reporting their perpetrators. The stories are coming from people who, like Ford, didn’t have many options after their assaults. Not everyone has the privilege of reporting crimes like this.

According to Rainn, a criminal justice statistics database, out of 1000 sexual assaults, 994 of the perpetrators will go free. Part of this problem is under-reporting — only 340 out of 1000 rapes are reported.

Now, I feel it needs to be said that everyone is innocent until proven guilty. We do not currently know the state of the investigation into Ford’s allegations, but I feel that’s not a reason to rest on our laurels.

Kavanaugh’s response to Ford’s allegations and his attitude toward the detailed investigation makes me think he knows if the truth comes out — and if the allegations are true — nothing will be done about it. I’m not okay with that.

As the investigation into Ford’s claims begins, more women have stepped forward. Deborah Ramirez, a classmate of Kavanaugh’s at Yale Law School, claims he sexually assaulted her. Ramirez’s claims came out Sept. 23.  A third woman, Julie Swetnick, came forward on Sept. 26 accusing Kavanaugh of sexual misconduct at a party in 1982. All three women are demanding full investigations into their allegations before his Supreme Court confirmation.

The criminal justice system needs to acknowledge the problematic cultural patterns which pardon perpetrators and ignore survivors. We need to create space to talk about these issues and provide support for those who need it. We need to hold those who commit these crimes responsible for the harm they have caused.

Society needs to do better. We need to support survivors. We need to educate our young people about what conduct is okay and what isn’t. We need to teach our kids how to respect another person’s bodily autonomy. We need to love our neighbors and our enemies as we love our families and friends. We need to show basic human compassion and kindness when atrocities occur.

We need to be better.

The way the justice system handles this case will set a precedent for how similar issues will be settled in the future. If we do nothing, then nothing will ever change.

Van Allen can be reached at [email protected].