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Dr. Ford, Judge Kavanaugh, and Surviving Assault

Doc's Blog

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Dr. Ford, Judge Kavanaugh, and Surviving Assault

Lee Vance

Dr. Christine Blasey Ford, recently emerging as yet another survivor of sexual assault, needs room to speak. I am thankful that the Senate understands this. Her story appears to come at an opportune time if you are a liberal and in hopes of delaying or thwarting Judge
Brett Kavanaugh’s confirmation to the Supreme Court. President Trump has suggested this and suggests that Dr. Ford is lying. I suspect that it is not political opportunity but a healing opportunity that brings her forward. To have one’s perpetrator rise in power signals a possible re- traumatization for Dr. Ford and I believe she wants to thwart further harm to her own mind.

Trauma lasts a lifetime and, unfortunately, the survivor is typically disrespected for coming forward. The trauma research helps us to better understand Dr. Ford. Survivors of trauma replay and more disturbingly, re-live the assault. Post Traumatic Stress represents a slowing of time and a freeze-framing of the event - placing one in a “trauma vortex,” a chaotic whirlwind of biological and psychological symptoms that stalls free living and continually traps the survivor. The injury, extreme terror, or near-death experience is revisited again and again in the mind. This vortex can last for years or a lifetime. For the perpetrator, the trauma is usually an insignificant experience and they soon forget it. Sometimes, if the perpetrator is under the influence of a substance, they will have a completely benign understanding of what occurred or they may not recall it at all.

In order to heal from such an experience, the survivor needs to be in control of the retelling; something Dr. Ford’s attorney has set up during the hearing. Sexual assault represents a complete lack of control over what happens to someone. Dr. Ford, I suspect, is on a healing mission - one in which she seeks to gain control of the telling without re-living the experience. Once she can re-tell the story, and if she is heard and understood by those listening, she can perhaps find some freedom from the ongoing vortex of trauma. She will gain agency again. She is taking back her mind. What is playing out on a national stage for Dr. Ford is an example of what plays out for almost any survivor of sexual assault that is trying to heal. They will spend years, sometimes decades, without telling many people before finding the courage to topple their re-living of the assault. We are surrounded by a terribly large number of these cases in the North Country and should encourage every person’s liberation from such experiences. Let us witness Dr. Ford’s courageous testimony as an example of how to go about it.