Response to the US Senate Judiciary Hearings

To be very clear – We believe survivors of sexual violence.  We believe survivors because we’ve heard their stories so often we know what rings true.  We believe survivors because the ways perpetrators behave (first deny, then play the victim) is strikingly similar every time they are confronted with what they have done.  We believe survivors because the data tells us that false reports are such a small percentage (between 2% and 8%) of the total reports of sexual violence that 92% to 98% of all reports are true.  We believe survivors because of their courage.

As we have seen over the past weeks, for a victim to come forward and report that she or he has been sexually assaulted opens that victim up to being traumatized again and again.  The courage shown by Dr. Christine Blasey Ford in coming forward is nothing short of astounding. Knowing that not only would there be those who did not believe her, that there would be those who would vilify her for “ruining the life of a good man”, and that the most painful and traumatizing event in her life would be examined in minute detail before the entire nation, she came forward and told her story.  As Dr. Ford said in her opening statement, “I am here today not because I want to be. I am terrified. I am here because I believe it is my civic duty to tell you what happened to me. . .”

The trauma of a sexual assault, as other types of trauma, leaves an impact on the brain.  To quote Dr. Ford, “I don’t have all the answers, and I don’t remember as much as I would like to. But the details about that night that bring me here today are ones I will never forget. They have been seared into my memory and have haunted me episodically as an adult.” Given this, if victims do report an assault, it takes a skilled and experienced investigator to put together all the pieces of what happened and the victim should have an advocate by her/his side at every step of the investigation.  This is what Dr. Blasey Ford is entitled to – a skilled investigation by those who understand the impact of trauma.  This is what we aspire to provide all victims of sexual abuse in Centre County – trauma-informed investigations and advocates to provide support throughout the process.

To all those who have experienced sexual assault, we hear you, we believe you, and we will support you as you make the decision to either report your assault or not to report it.  If you have been assaulted, either recently or long ago, call our 24 hour hotline at 877-234-5050 to talk with an advocate about your options and find support. You are not alone.  To find out more about the ways you can support survivors in this community, go to the Centre Safe (Centre Co. Women’s Resource Center) website at www.ccwrc.org.  We believe and stand with survivors.

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