Christine Blasey Ford, admitting she was "terrified," opened her testimony against Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh by explaining that she still believed it was her "civic duty" to tell the Senate Judiciary Committee that she had been assaulted and still feels the effects of the incident.
"I don't have all the answers," Ford said. "I don't remember as much as I would like to. The details that bring me her are ones I will never forget."
She explained that during her freshman and sophomore years in high school, she and her friends intercepted with Kavanaugh and his friends, and she had gone to a number of parties he also had attended.
Ford said that on the night of the alleged incident, she attended a small party where there were four boys, including Kavanaugh and his friend Mark Judge.
And while she admitted she didn't' remember every detail, the alleged assault was "seared into my memory and have haunted me episodically as an adult."
Ford said she had one beer, but that Kavanaugh and Judge were "visibly drunk." She said she went upstairs to go to a bathroom, when she was pushed from behind into a bedroom across from the bathroom.
"There was music playing in the bathroom," said Ford. "It was turned up by either Brett or Mark once we were in the room. I was pushed onto the bed, and Brett got on top of me."
"I believed he was going to rape me," said Ford. "I tried to yell for help. When I did, Brett put his hand over my mouth to stop me from yelling. This is what terrified me the most, and it's had the most lasting impact on my life. It was hard for me to breathe, and I thought that Brett was accidentally going to kill me."
"Brett's assault on me drastically altered my life for a very long time," she testified. "I was too afraid and ashamed to tell anyone these details. I did not want to tell my parents that I at age 15 was in a house without any parents present, drinking beer with boys. I convinced myself that because Brett did not rape me, I should just move on, just pretend that it didn't happen."
Over the years, though, she told a few friends about the experience, and she told her husband before they were married that she had experienced a sexual assault, but didn't tell the details until a May 2012 counseling session with her husband.
Until July 2018, though, she said she didn't name Kavanaugh as her attacker outside of therapy. However, Ford said she saw his name on a list of potential nominees and thought it was her civic duty to give information, so she sent a message to her Congressional representative and an encrypted message to the Washington Post's tip line.
Ford said that eventually, she delivered a copy of her letter to Sen. Dianne Feinstein's office, with the request that it be kept confidential.
But once the press started reporting on the existence of the letter, she faced mounting pressure.
"Reporters appeared at my homeland and at my workplace, demanding information about the letter, in the presence of my graduate students," said Ford. "They called my bosses and coworkers and left me many messages...I decided to speak out publicly to a journalist who had originally responded to the tip I had sent to "The Washington Post" and who had gained my trust."
Since then, she said her greatest fears have been realized and are far worse than she expected, as her family has been targeted with harassment and death threats, forcing her family out of her home.
"This past Tuesday evening, my work email was hacked, and messages were sent out, trying to recants my description of the sexual assault," said Ford. "Apart from the assault itself, these past couple of weeks have been the hardest of my life."
Before her testimony, the committee’s Republican chairman, Sen. Chuck Grassley, called for a 'safe, comfortable and dignified' proceeding as the panel opened a historic hearing that promises to shape the Supreme Court’s future and redefine the 'Me Too' era.
He also lamented that the accusation surfaced after his panel held almost a week of confirmation hearings, while Feinstein accused the GOP of a rush to judgment and complained about a lack of other witnesses.
Feinstein thanked Ford for her 'strength and bravery in coming forward.' The California senator said 60 percent of sexual assaults go unreported, and when women do report them, 'too often, women’s memories and credibility are put under assault.'
This is not a trial for Dr. Ford,' Feinstein said. 'It’s a job interview for Judge Kavanaugh.'
Feinstein said the issue is 'a real question of character for someone who is asking for a lifetime appointment to the Supreme Court,' and noted that two other accusers came forward in the last several days.
This report contains material from The Associated Press and Bloomberg.
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