Sexual Assault, Public Scorn, and Political Indifference

Each and every day, a person wakes up almost expecting the imminent eruption of controversy. On some days, what emerges is not always the garden variety political squabbles to which we’ve become uncomfortably accustomed. Some days it’s controversy spawned by benign buffoonery. On other days, like today, it’s something far worse. It’s something that sinks below moral outrage and enters into the realm of the abjectly dishonorable.

Abandoning his short-lived embrace of civility, President Trump weighed-in on allegations of sexual assault levied against Brett Kavanaugh by Dr. Christine Blasey Ford, stating in a pair of tweets,

Judge Brett Kavanaugh is a fine man, with an impeccable reputation, who is under assault by radical left wing politicians who don’t want to know the answers, they just want to destroy and delay. Facts don’t matter. I go through this with them every single day in D.C.

I have no doubt that, if the attack on Dr. Ford was as bad as she says, charges would have been immediately filed with local Law Enforcement Authorities by either her or her loving parents. I ask that she bring those filings forward so that we can learn date, time, and place!

To the crux of Trump’s assertions, the veracity of Dr. Ford’s allegations. Yes, false accusations do occur. However, if we’re trying this case in the court of public opinion, Dr. Ford’s accusations appear credible. Few would risk their careers, their very livelihoods or safety, in order to tell their story to an undoubtedly hostile political firing squad which expands nationwide. Fewer yet are willing to risk incurring perjury charges. Fewer still lobby for an adjudicative FBI investigation into the matter, the key to either corroboration or exoneration.

But let’s put the president’s disgraceful comments into context. First of all, sex crimes are known to be significantly under-reported, for a plethora of reasons. The least of which being that their inherently violent and personal nature creates a deeply invasive-trauma. A level of violating trauma to which many of us cannot accurately relate, much less fathom.

To be both blunt and honest, it’s form of violence so very different from what many of us males might experience. It’s not the same as getting jumped or physically accosted outside a pub. It’s something that cannot be fixed by some stitches and the knowledge that a second sober go-round may yield a different avenging result.

However, the egregiousness of the president’s drivel is that its moral bankruptcy is not limited to impugning a credible victim, or even exhibiting blatant ignorance. It’s that this putrid variety of popularly-perpetuated comments and sentiments, perhaps purposefully, belie the sad reality that the brutality of sexual violence is horrifically more prevalent than we’d dare to imagine.

According to RAINN, 1-in-6 American women is a survivor of an attempted or completed rape. So for those inclined to disregard this incident as the manifestation of mere political theater, I have but one request, to look around you for both perspective and resonance.

Think about that statistic when you stroll into work and you’re chatting with your coworkers by the water cooler, when you’re enjoying a night out with a cohort of your friends, when your family is gathered around the communal table, and when you look into your partner’s eyes. Now ask yourself how you’d feel if one, or several, of the people you cared about most were survivors. Ask yourself how’d you’d feel if their trauma was not met with compassion, but confronted by scorn.


(Featured image “Congresswoman Pelosi at the Violence Against Women Act Signing“, by Nancy Pelosi, used under Attribution 2.0 Generic License (CC BY 2.0).