Letter to Dr. Blasey Ford

Well, it’s 3:25 am on September 27th, 2018. I have woken up twice tonight, once so drenched in sweat my pillowcase was wet and I had to change shirts.

I went outside to have a cigarette, one of the last two ways I continue to hurt myself. I came back inside and did some tidying up in the hope that I would go to sleep. This summer has been so wet I can barely shut the front door of this old, wooden house. All the doors and windows are swollen from humidity. I suspect there is a metaphor in there somewhere but am not going to search for it. I’ve got other things on my mind.

Dr. Blasey Ford, I know why I can’t sleep. I am wondering if you are awake yet. I am wondering how many others like you and I are awake as well. I bet the West Coast is having a time of it. At least I got a few hour’s rest.

I am a someone that did tell the authorities. I thought, and I absolutely wince at my innocence, that it was my responsibility as a woman and citizen to report what happened to me to the police.

I’m not getting into it too much. I have written about it before. But I’ll say this: he was a white male in college. I told the prosecutor that personally, I would be willing to have the charges dropped if he would admit what he did and see a psychologist. The prosecutor reached out to his attorney. He would not admit to even touching me. So, we plodded along with the trial. His attorney, figuring out that the I didn’t touch her! defense wouldn’t play, decided to cast me as the rapist’s lover of the moment, and the jury fined him $100, because you know, how would a rape conviction impact his future? Poor rapist.

You were in Maryland. I was in Virginia, not far away, where fornication was still a crime, hence the fine. This was 1983, very close in time to when you (and here I have to write the word allege) allege that Brett Kavanaugh attacked you.

I’d like to note that right before I typed Kavanaugh’s name I almost wrote Brock Turner’s. They all blend together for me.

Every single time, and there have been entirely too many times, I have heard some Son of Satan ask “Why didn’t Dr. Ford report it?” I want to raise my hand and give the answer.

I’m glad, for your sake, you didn’t report it then. I am beyond relieved you didn’t have to live through a trial at the age of fifteen. I was seventeen. It would take me a lifetime to describe the prison in which I found myself afterward. My brain could not process what had happened to me. All I know is that I started to live my life from the point of view of the witness stand. I lived for decades in a state of defense. I was constantly watched, examined, interrogated, questioned, accused. Everything I did went before a jury that wasn’t even imaginary. It was the jury that sat to my left in that courtroom. They deemed me defective, a liar, a fake, irresponsible, all the while telling me I should have stayed quiet.

I realize it’s controversial to say I’m glad you didn’t report it at that time. I don’t care. I refuse to pretend that victims of sexual assault are treated well in court.

What I am hoping for you, is that in six hours, when your trial starts-and make no mistake: you are going to be on trial today no matter what they tell you or you tell yourself. Why do you think they flew a female prosecutor out to question you? I am hoping though, that your education in the field of psychology, your age, and the overwhelming support and love that I and so many other survivors feel for you today, will help you get through it without irreparable damage to your psyche.

I’m also wondering how much longer women are going to be putting up with this absolutely sadistic treatment of victims of sexual assault. Until we stop putting the survivors on trial, we are a nation that practices torture on its own citizens.

I am exhausted from this week. I have felt every virtual punch they’ve thrown at you. I know I’m not alone. I can go online at any time of day or night and read about how what you are experiencing is affecting women who have gone through it. It is brutal.

I am a cynical person. I do, however, have hope for what will happen today as a result of your courage. I think we might both live long enough to realize that what you are doing today changed the way women are treated in our nation. The last time the Senate put a woman, Anita Hill, on trial for reporting sexual harassment, the results were a wave of women running for office. Today I believe they will see the dire need for still more of us.

Allow me to list a possible reason why we have had to go through what we have experienced.

Our nation was founded by Puritans. They brought their diseases and their white supremacy with them. You’d be hard pressed to find a greater crime than wiping out an entire race of indigenous people and sentencing their descendants to reservations. However, in addition to those atrocities, they brought their mores. They brought their repressive, judgmental attitudes about sex, the body, and a women’s place in the world.

As a nation, we have continued the Puritanical tradition. You and I have encountered their male descendants; our daughters and nieces are meeting them now. Those men attend good private schools and Ivy League universities. And these young men join fraternities and drink too much, or they are the star of the swim team, and their entitlement quite often extends to the women with whom they study. I know some of these men grow up thinking they are entitled to women’s bodies. If they couldn’t have us sober, they could have us passed out from drugs or drink.

They think they can have sex with us when they want, on their terms, and we better shut up and like it. They don’t want to wear a condom. If we get pregnant as a result, we are stupid sluts. They might suggest we have an abortion. They can’t have a kid interfere with their career, or plans.

However, they grow up into men who want to make abortion illegal, so their base, the Christian right, descendants of those pesky Puritans, will continue to enable how these men think about women. We are property. It’s not just the right to choose at issue. It’s the right men believe they have to have sex without consequence before and after they marry someone they think is a nice girl. That girl is to be the mother of their children. Their daughters aren’t sluts. They are perfect, pristine, because they are their own and they are their owners.

If you are like me, Dr. Blasey Ford: I have had it.

I think I can say most women in this nation have had it.

If you are a man, and you do not believe that women are autonomous beings whose self-determination of body and mind is ours alone; if you do not believe that sexual predators deserve to be put behind bars no matter their station; if you do not believe that survivors of sexual assault should only be questioned in court only under guidelines written by other survivors, get the hell out of our way.

My message for the privileged white male who thinks he owns us:

If you abuse privileges, they are taken away. We learn this as children, from our mothers. The way you have treated Dr. Blasey Ford will not happen to any woman in our nation again. Your privilege has come to an end.

Dr. Blasey Ford, may you survive today intact, whole, and full of the pride that I and the other survivors of our country have for you. As cynical as I am, I believe you are about to change the world for us.

Always in gratitude.

Elizabeth Grey

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