When it comes to sexual assault allegations, victim blaming is never in style. President Donald Trump doesn't seem to have gotten the memo, though. On the morning of Friday, Sept. 21, Trump tweeted out an attack on the woman who accused Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh of sexual assault, and Trump's tweet about Christine Blasey Ford is seriously not OK. Come on, man. Elite Daily reached out to the White House for clarification on the tweet and the implication that if the alleged attack were serious it would have been reported at the time, as well as comment on the allegations themselves, but did not immediately hear back.
For the past week, everyone has been talking about the allegations which have roiled the confirmation proceedings of Kavanaugh, Trump's nominee for the Supreme Court seat vacated by Justice Anthony Kennedy. On Sept. 14, news broke that a then-anonymous accuser had claimed in a letter to Sen. Dianne Feinstein that Kavanaugh had allegedly sexually assaulted her at a high school party in the 1980s. In a public statement, Kavanaugh denied the allegations, saying "I categorically and unequivocally deny this allegation. I did not do this back in high school or at any time.” Representatives for Kavanaugh did not reply to Elite Daily's request for comment. On Sept. 16, Ford, a psychology professor from California, came forward as Kavanaugh's accuser. Since then, according to her lawyers, she has been subjected to death threats and her family has been driven from their home. In the meantime, senators on the Senate Judiciary Committee have called on her to testify about her allegations against Kavanaugh, creating a stalemate when Ford said she would not testify until the FBI had investigated her claims. She has since indicated she may be willing to testify prior to an investigation.
It seems to be Ford's call for an FBI investigation — which others have seconded — that's drawn Trump's ire. In a set of morning tweets, he defended Kavanaugh as "a fine man" with an "impeccable reputation" and suggested that if the FBI were to be involved, it should have happened years ago. "I have no doubt that, if the attack on Dr. Ford was as bad as she says, charges would have been immediately filed with local Law Enforcement Authorities," he wrote.
Well, in Blasey's own words, she was afraid of the consequences of reporting. She remembered thinking, “I’m not ever telling anyone this. This is nothing, it didn’t happen, and he didn’t rape me," she told The Washington Post on Sept. 16. She told the paper that she was afraid that she would get in trouble for being at a party where teenagers were drinking.
The idea that to be believable, sexual misconduct victims must report to authorities right away is one of the most tired-out tropes in the discussion around sexual assault. According to statistics from the Rape, Abuse, & Incest National Network (RAINN), more than two-thirds of sexual assaults are never reported to authorities, with the three most common reasons being, in order, that the assaulted "feared retaliation"; "believed the police would not do anything to help"; and "believed it was a personal matter." For those who do speak up, it's not uncommon for survivors of sexual assault to stay quiet for years before coming forward, as many survivor advocates point out.
The Sept. 21 tweets are the first time that Trump had discussed Ford by name, apparently to his advisers' dismay. Earlier on Friday morning, a White House source told Axios that “you have no idea” how hard it had been keeping Trump from attacking Ford directly. The source reportedly said that the hope had been to keep the president quiet until Monday, which clearly didn't work out. Elite Daily reached out to the White House for comment, but did not immediately hear back.
So, will we get to see Ford's testimony? Will Kavanaugh be confirmed? Will Trump refrain from attacking an alleged sexual assault survivor further? This is 2018. Anything is possible.