Luckily, I survived high school without getting more than ickily groped now and then, but my luck ran out in college. I fell victim to a number of random assaults by strangers, including two robberies at gunpoint, all of which then became fodder for my senior thesis, but I wasn’t actually date raped until the night before my graduation, in June of 1988. Or maybe it was May. I don’t actually remember which month I graduated from college, because it was so long ago, but that does not negate what I do remember—both the rape itself, and what happened in its aftermath. I woke up, put on my cap and gown, and fetched my diploma to the notes of “Pomp and Circumstance” in front of my unsuspecting parents, just like everyone else in my class. Afterward, I posed for photos with my parents and smiled. Then, between our photo session and lunch, I excused myself to take care of what I said was an administrative issue and went straight to University Health Services to report the rape.
I was told by the intake psychologist that I had two choices: I could report the rape to the police; stay in the Boston area for several months, to deal with the trial; hire lawyers to help me through it with money I did not have; and put off beginning my life in Paris, where I’d planned to move for work, while awaiting my turn on the witness stand, where my prior sex life would be put on trial, more than the boy who raped me. Or I could stay silent.
At lunch that day, did I tell my loving parents that I’d been raped the night before? Of course not. That boy had already stolen a valuable piece of my soul. I was not going to allow him to steal my graduation day from us, too. I’d worked hard to reach that day. So had my parents. This was our day, not his.
In fact, I never actually told my parents to their faces. Instead, 13 years after the rape in question, I sent them the manuscript for my first memoir, in which I described the rape, for the first time, in detail, making sure to put an ocean between us while they read. I didn’t want to see the pained expression on my dad’s face or hear my mother crying until they’d had enough time to process it. Several notable critics of the book, after it was published, took it upon themselves either to blame me for my assaults or to ask if I was worried I’d get called a slut.
The fact that Ford did not call the police or tell her loving parents after she escaped this young man’s scary clutches has no bearing on the truth of her story. Plus, let’s keep in mind: She was 15 years old. She couldn’t even drive herself home. That’s one of the images that haunts me—young Chrissy Blasey walking out of that house and facing the rest of her post-traumatic life, on foot.
But there has been an upside to the Kavanaugh circus and Trump’s presidency. For one, it has galvanized women and the men who love us. For another, like so many rape survivors in this country living through this particular moment in history, having to relive our assaults daily—even hourly—with every new allegation of rape, I have been so brought to my knees by this latest allegation that I, too, was inspired to speak out.