Who is Dr. Christine Blasey Ford anyway?
Yesterday, September 27, 2018 was a highly emotional day in our country. We witnessed so much during the Senate Committee Hearings of Dr. Christine Blasey Ford and Bret Kavanaugh, enough to shift energies and make precedents in this country, the world and our own lives.
One of the first things I learned about Dr. Ford, besides her accusation of having been abused by Kavanaugh was her academic background: she has an undergraduate degree in experimental psychology from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, a master’s degree in clinical psychology from Pepperdine University, a master’s degree in epidemiology with a focus on biostatistics from Stanford University School of Medicine and a Ph.D in educational psychology from the University of Southern California. Dr. Ford is currently a professor of psychology at Palo Alto University and a research psychologist at Stanford University School of Medicine, specializing in designing statistical models for research projects; she is also married and a mother of two teenage sons. You get the picture.
Why would a woman so accomplished personally, professionally and academically, with so much to loose from speaking up and putting herself in the public eye in a country and a world so heavily divided by irrational politics, stand-up and share with the world a wound that has never quite healed, probably one of those events in her life that have hurt and still hurts and that she would not normally and freely share with anybody or everybody? Why would a woman that has her world put together and her life going on for her through her own hard work and effort, risk the balance, stability and peace that her life has had until now and stand-up courageously for what she believes is the Highest Good of All?
With her stand, Dr. Ford became a Transcendent Leader and pulled all of us into a higher stand, inviting us to be courageous in the face of fear, discomfort and vulnerability. Her heart was pumping so hard before she spoke, her mouth was dry, she couldn’t find her voice, she needed caffeine, she was probably thinking: “why in the world did I chose to be here?”, she was probably wanting to run away, but she didn’t. Dr. Ford had nothing to gain from this ordeal, but she answered to her heart’s calling, she took all the broken pieces of herself and dragged them to the Senate and stood there, showed us her wounds, showed us that sharing our stories can create a bond and a calling to bring integrity back to our lives, our communities, our countries, our world. She taught us yesterday that true heroes don’t have all the answers and no fear; that true heroes act while they are shaking and bleeding, guided by the Light that emanates from their hearts.
I grew-up in a small-minded family from a small-minded small town in the highly conservative, chauvinistic and homophobic Latin American country of Colombia. I am gay and have always known that I am, however, it took me 33 years and all the courage I could gather, to start coming out to the world. When I was somewhere between two and three years old, I was molested by a remodeling worker that my grandmother had hired to do some work at her house. I don’t know his name and don’t remember his face. He did not rape me, but I have a vague recollection that in a couple of instances he made me touch his penis. Little as I was, and with the very little language that I could have had at that age, something in me instinctively knew this didn’t feel right, and instinctively as well, I never spoke about it for probably more than 20 years, mainly because the memory associated with the event carried a sense of guilt from my part, as if I had done something wrong. The event left an imprint in me of shame and dirtiness, of a secret I needed to keep, of pain and injustice. I have long forgiven my grandmother and all the adults that were responsible for taking care of me. No one has ever loved me more than my grandmother, and standing in her love, I was able to forgive her humanity and mistake of distraction, however, deep in my heart, it has always taken more to erase the shadow of my guilt. It is only when I stand in who I am today, as a 49 year-old woman, looking at the two-year old girl that was molested, when I can find peace and forgiveness, compassion and love for that little girl that was abused, and I need to return to that place to stand from love.
As the years went by, I started to discover my own body and sexuality as a lesbian, but living in a society where being gay was shameful, sinful and terribly wrong, I could not gather the courage to claim my homosexuality and hid my girlfriends while pretending, or perhaps really trying and pushing myself to date men. Here is the thing: throughout my entire life I have found many fascinating men that I truly admire and genuinely love. I have been able to appreciate beauty in a man, however, I have never been attracted to masculine beauty, and although I know today that that is perfect, when I was a young woman, I did not have it so clear, so I pushed myself to date guys, and I was sexually abused, although thankfully, never raped, by two of the men that I dated.
One of them was David Turbay, a friend of a friend, tall, handsome, skinny and brilliant student of medicine. I went out with him a couple of times and admired his intelligence and niceness. I made dinner for him at my apartment one night, I was nineteen or twenty years old, he was probably twenty-three. We talked, laughed, listened to music and kissed. It was not bad, but I did not want to have sex with him, and although at that moment I had had sex with women, I had never had any sexual experience with men, and again, I just did not want to have sex with him. I told him that, and he was politely okay with my negative. We kept talking, it was late and he asked me if he could sleep over, and I said yes, but made clear that I did not want to have sex, and he complied. He went to bed, and slept, and so did I. It felt nice to be able to have a friend like that. The next morning I was grateful to him, and I woke up with a smile. He immediately jumped over me, pulled down his pants, took his penis out and started touching himself on top of me. I don’t know how long it took, my brain could not process what was happening, I could not talk, my voice failed me, I was frozen there and he pulled up my shirt and ejaculated on my stomach, pulled-up his pants, got up, went to the bathroom, cleaned himself-up and left. That was the last time I ever saw him or heard from him. I was shaken, cold, and felt that I couldn’t move from my bed. His sperm felt like the weight of a truck that had just stepped over me. I had never seen sperm, never felt it, never smelled it before. In the words of Dr. Ford, what is indelible in the hippocampus for me is the clorox-like smell of the semen, the threatening appearance of his penis, the violence that took place in just a couple of minutes, the violation of the sacredness of my peace and my space.
The other incident was very similar to this one. I was around twenty-four years old and went out with an urologist about ten years older than me for a couple of times. One night we were watching TV in my apartment, he kissed me and started groping me, I told him I did not want to have sex (to this date, I have never had sex with a man, and choose to keep it that way for the rest of my life), and he just jumped over me, in the same awkward, violent, dominating position, touched himself and pulled my shirt a bit up just before ejaculating on my stomach, went to the bathroom and left my house. Same smell, same sensation of not being able to move, and same guilt of having done something against my own self, of not having been strong enough to kick him or scream or I don’t even know what. It gets to be so screwed-up, that in my head I give thanks for not having been raped, as if I should thank my aggressors for not having been more aggressive. I don’t even remember his name, and I am more than sure that he doesn’t even remember mine. What makes me so sure of it is that he had probably done that hundreds of times, to as many other girls, and what was so burdensome and traumatic for me, was probably unremarkable for him, perhaps that is why Kavanaugh denies that it ever happened, because when men get so used to being violent, abusive and diminishing to women, they feel that touching, pushing themselves, or even “playing a little” is absolutely nothing, even in the face of disagreement from the woman, of pain and trauma, of deep shame and sorrow.
Some people ask why didn’t Dr. Ford share her story before. She did, and she did not. She did share it with the people closest to her, she had not shared it with the world at large because society also teaches us that we should keep our abuse to ourselves, that we should be silent, endure and heal on our own, that only more shame could be felt if we are to share our stories of abuse with the world, that no good comes from showing our wounds, that we would be even more judged, disqualified or diminished by sharing our pain.
I wondered yesterday, how would I have acted if Dr. David Turbay was running for a position like a Supreme Court Justice, where his judgement would have an effect and impact on so many people. I wondered if I would have the courage to stand-up and put the balance of my life at risk, and face other parents at my daughter’s school, and face my family and my community the same way. There was a moment where I felt grateful that none of my attackers was so prominent and that I didn’t have the need to step-up, that I was off-the hook.
But then, Dr. Ford had touched me deeply, and I couldn't be that person that hides anymore. Yes, none of my attackers is that prominent, but I can still gather my own pieces and stand-up showing courage as my entire body shakes while writing this words, share my story with the world, share my deep desire that we create a world where we are not afraid that our children will be abused at one age or another, where we, men and women respect one another, our boundaries, our limits, and honor each other’s wishes, integrity, bodies, humanity.
So, who is Dr. Christine Blasey Ford, anyway? The moment she stepped-up, she stopped being “just Dr. Ford”, and she became all of us, she became one with the Light inside us and invited us to honor ourselves, our own story, our wounds and our strengths, and stand-up for true values such as love, integrity, courage and truth. Dr. Ford is now all of us, all of us who dare to honor ourselves, our story and say, I am here, I am real, and I stand up for creating a world that works for everyone.
That is how Dr. Ford transcended, in all of us.