POLITICS
09/27/2018 01:28 pm ET Updated Sep 27, 2018

C-SPAN Callers Recall Their Own Sexual Assaults After Christine Blasey Ford's Testimony

Brenda, a 76-year-old woman in Missouri, said Thursday's hearing on Brett Kavanaugh resurfaced painful memories.

Christine Blasey Ford’s emotional testimony alleging that Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh sexually assaulted her resurfaced painful memories for many women on Thursday, including at least three C-SPAN callers.

One caller ― identified as Brenda from Valley Park, Missouri ― phoned into C-SPAN during a 15-minute recess amid Thursday’s highly anticipated hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee. 

“I’m a 76-year-old woman who was sexually molested in the second grade,” said Brenda, before becoming audibly emotional. “This brings back so much pain. I thought I was over it. But it’s not. You will never forget it. You get confused and you don’t understand it ― but you never forget what happened to you.”

“Without my family, I would never have been able to go through this,” she added. “And now I’m 76 years old, and I thought I was over it until I heard it happened to somebody else, and it is such a shame.”

C-SPAN host Steve Scully then asked Brenda how old she was when she was sexually assaulted, prompting her to respond:

I was in the second grade, and it was a seventh grader at my school, and you know on rainy days they have you march around the school back then because they couldn’t let you out. And I would see him, and I would get so upset.

I’ve had a weight problem my whole life because I was so afraid that someone was going to hurt me. And I’m married, I have a wonderful family; I have a wonderful husband, and a child and great-grandchildren and grandchildren, and I thought I was over this. I have not brought this up for years until I heard this testimony, and it’s just breaking my heart.

Listen to Brenda’s story around the 59:30 mark below:

Thursday’s hearings before the Senate Judiciary Committee allowed Blasey and Kavanaugh to testify about her accusations. She alleges the judge pinned her down, groped her and tried to remove her clothes during a small gathering at a house in suburban Maryland while they were both in high school in the early 1980s.

Two other women have come forward this week and accused Kavanaugh of sexual misconduct. Deborah Ramirez alleges Kavanaugh thrust his penis in her face at a dormitory party when they were both freshmen at Yale University. Julie Swetnick alleges she witnessed Kavanaugh and one of his friends at several high school parties getting “drunk” and “being overly aggressive with girls.”

Kavanaugh, now a federal appeals court judge, has vehemently denied the allegations.

Prior to airing Brenda’s powerful story on Thursday, C-SPAN took calls from two men ― both of whom accused Blasey of lying during her testimony.

“She is lying like a dog,” said a caller identified as James from Princeton, Indiana. “Listen, she said so much inconsistent in her statements that you could drive a Mack truck through it.”

When asked for specific examples of inconsistencies, James stumbled but said the prosecutor should take Blasey “to the woodshed.”

“She can’t remember this. She can’t remember that,” James said. “I wish that dang prosecutor would say, ‘Listen, I need more than five minutes, and I could take her to the woodshed.’”

The next caller, identified as Tracy from Riverton, Wyoming, echoed James’ aggressive rhetoric toward Blasey.

“I just feel that she is very scripted,” said Tracy, who also failed to cite any specific examples like his fellow male caller. “She’s really putting on an act. All her inconsistencies and what not. You can just tell she’s lying.”

Later Thursday, during a longer recess from the hearing, several more women called into C-SPAN to discuss Blasey’s testimony and their personal experiences with sexual abuse. (Those women’s calls start around 1:27 in the C-SPAN video above.)

It’s 2018, the Me Too movement has happened, and I think that we need to come from a perspective of believing women. C-SPAN caller Jessica from Chicago

A called identified as Jessica from Chicago said she found Blasey was credible because of “how familiar her experience is.”

“I was sexually assaulted when I was 19 in college,” said Jessica, now 26, before being overcome with emotion. “I’d prefer not to go into too much more detail than that ― I’m sorry.”

“It’s very important to victims of sexual assault that we take these accusations seriously,” she added. “And I’m disappointed that there hasn’t been an FBI investigation because it’s 2018, the Me Too movement has happened, and I think that we need to come from a perspective of believing women when they come forward with these stories because it’s not an easy thing to do and I don’t think it’s something that anyone would undertake lightly.”

Scully then took a call from Michelle, a 53-year-old mother from Fort Pierce, Florida. She said both she and her daughter had been victims of sexual assault.

“I am a survivor myself,” Michelle said. “When I was 12 ... sleeping over at [my best friend’s] house, around 4 in the morning, in the dim light of the night light, her 17-year-old brother was hovered over her and on to me on the other side of the full-size bed with his hands in my underwear and fondling me.”

“I remember being so frightened and not wanting anyone to be upset with me because I loved this family a lot,” she continued. “I shook to pretend I was waking up and he’d back off. He came back about two more times until my girlfriend started to stir a little bit and then he left and that was the end. The only person I ever told that to was my husband when I first married him a few years later and a girlfriend since then. That being said, I’m still friends with that person and I would never ever want to cause her harm.”

Michelle said she felt Blasey “came across as a credible person herself that has been through the trauma,” but said she also felt Kavanaugh’s public denials have been “just as compelling.”

President Donald Trump and several Republican senators have publicly questioned Blasey’s accusations and attacked the credibility of Ramirez and Swetnick.

“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,” Trump tweeted earlier this month.

“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,” the president added.

Trump’s tweets highlighted a common ― and misguided ― belief that all survivors of sexual assault report the incidents to law enforcement officials. Nearly two-thirds of people who are raped or sexually assaulted don’t go to police at all, according to Justice Department estimates.

This article has been updated with information from callers during the second recess. 

Need help? Visit RAINN’s National Sexual Assault Online Hotline or the National Sexual Violence Resource Center’s website.

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