On Thursday, September 27, 2018, millions of women and men listened to Dr. Christine Blasey Ford’s testimony about the impact of sexual assault on her life. We watched spellbound as she described the trauma that has haunted her for over thirty years, since she was fifteen years old. Dr. Blasey Ford was clear about what she was asking of herself - to recount and relive the most terrifying experience of her life, to risk being re-traumatized. The willingness to do what we are terrified to do is the definition of courage.
Being able to talk about the circumstances that caused her trauma took years of therapy. Trauma cannot be ignored, forgotten, pushed through or “overcome”. Many of us would like to think that it can, and would like to believe that something that happened so long ago could not possibly continue to hurt so deeply. Dr. Ford’s testimony may have enlightened all of us about trauma, just a little, at least this is my hope.
Each time one of us who has experienced sexual trauma tells their story, others who have remained silent out of shame or fear, and have suffered in silence, cut off from the compassion of the world, are also encouraged to share their story. The two women who spoke about their trauma to Senator Jeff Flake encouraged him to be courageous, and do what he could do to prevent our country’s judicial process from failing us, miserably. There is no statute of limitations on the deep impact that trauma can have on the life of the person who has survived it. When a woman or man tells their story about how sexual trauma has affected their life, they are not just telling their story, they are telling all of our stories, whether you are living with trauma or not. We now know that the impact of trauma cannot be contained and that it impacts all of us, in one way or another.