Opinion

This is why Christine Blasey Ford came forward — and why I would, too

I haven't named the person who raped me. But that would change if my rapist was called on for an office in which he wielded enormous power over others, and required prodigious integrity, because I know he has none.

My rapist went on to become a lawyer. About once a year, I Google his name to keep tabs on what he's doing

I believe Ford about more than just what she says happened at that house party more than 30 years ago. I believe her about her motivations for coming forward. (Win McNamee/Pool Photo via Associated Press)

For those of you who question the motives and timing of Christine Blasey Ford, the psychology professor who says she was sexually assaulted by Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh — perhaps relaying my own experience can help you better understand it all.

On Thursday, Ford testified before the Senate judiciary committee, describing how, back in high school, Kavanaugh allegedly groped her and tried to rip off her clothes.

She explained that prior to July, she had never identified Kavanaugh by name outside of her personal therapy sessions. But this summer, things changed: "I saw press reports stating that Brett Kavanaugh was on the 'short list' of potential Supreme Court nominees," she said. "I thought it was my civic duty to relay the information I had about Mr. Kavanaugh's conduct so that those considering his potential nomination would know about the assault."

I believe her.

I believe her about more than just what she says happened at that house party more than 30 years ago. I believe her about her motivations for coming forward.

Why? Because I struggle with the same sorts of questions.

In university, I was raped by a friend of a friend. There is no police report to back up my claims. There are no physical scars. There's no "evidence," so to speak. What evidence would there be, after all, since no one else was there, and I was too embarrassed to tell anyone what happened for years?

I can also relate to Ford in that my rapist went on to become a lawyer — an esteemed officer of the court. And about once a year I punch his name into Google, a name I wish I'd never heard.

I punch it in there and his career highlights and accolades pop up before me. His picture brings flashbacks of that night. But I keep looking him up to keep tabs on what he's doing. My deepest fear is that one day he will pursue a line of work that would one day land him in a judge's chair or — heaven forbid — vying for a seat on Canada's Supreme Court.

I keep an eye on him from afar because I know that if, one day, he decides to reach for a job that required incontestable integrity, I would need to step up and say something.

Christine Blasey Ford alleges that a drunken, 17-year-old Brett Kavanaugh forced her down on a bed, groped her and tried to take off her clothes during a high school gathering in the summer of 1982. She was 15 at the time. 4:07

I considered going to the dean back when I found out he got into law school, but I figured: fat chance they'd believe me. That will always be a concern, of course, but I know that the more important his role — or potential role — the more resources and attention might be paid to the charge against him.

That's because there are some jobs and positions in our society that require a person to be of absolutely unblemished integrity. I would think a position on the supreme court — of any country — would be an obvious example of that.

So in the case before the Senate judiciary committee now, I would hope senators will recognize that it is Brett Kavanaugh's integrity — the person vying for one of the most important jobs in the country — that matters. Not that of Ford.

But for the record: I can't imagine the courage Mrs. Ford needed to step onto the world stage this way. I have so much respect for her.

That this alleged incident happened more than three decades ago doesn't mean it's not still relevant. (Andrew Harnik/Reuters, Andrew Harnik/Getty Images)

I'm sure Ford would have been happier to stay at home, even cry into her pillow as she grappled with her own memories of that night when she says she was made to feel powerless, made to feel like she might die. But she saw a man reach for a job he doesn't deserve. A job where he would have the power to rule on the most morally fraught issues of the country. And according to Ford, his moral compass doesn't work. That is vital information.

That this alleged incident happened more than three decades ago doesn't mean it's not still relevant. I don't care how much time passes, the memory of feeling the weight of an unwanted attacker on top of you never goes away.

This is the first time I've spoken publicly about being raped, and I haven't named any names. But my conscience would compel me to change that if I ever felt my rapist was called on for an office in which he wielded enormous power over others, and required prodigious integrity, because I know he has none.

That's why Ford came forward. And why I would, too.

This column is part of CBC's Opinion section. For more information about this section, please read this editor's blog and our FAQ.

About the Author

Sarah Lawrynuik is a freelance journalist based in Calgary who has covered news stories in Canada and around the world, including in France, Hungary and Iraq. She has worked for CBC in Halifax, Winnipeg and Calgary and is currently travelling through Central and Eastern Europe on a reporting bursary.