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Dear Dr. Blasey Ford,

A very big part of me wants to hide and curl up in a ball and bemoan the state of the world. But if you can be brave, so can I.

Thank you. Thank you for going far and above your civic duty to report something deeply disturbing about a potential supreme court justice. Thank you for providing a brave voice to what practically every woman in this nation has experienced to varying degrees.

You are my hero. You are a real-life wonder woman. You deserve a lifetime vacation.

I am so deeply sorry for what you’ve had to endure, not only in terms of the assault itself and its inescapable traumatic effects on you, but also this new trauma of having your life, your credibility, your personhood threatened and exploited.

I believe you. I wish it weren’t important to say, but it is. Extremely important. Because gaslighting is so deeply entwined with discussions of sexual assault. Because more often than not, survivors of sexual assault are made to feel crazy because of the cowardice of so many men. I believe you. Your experiences and your healing are real. And for whatever small comfort it can provide, I am with you, as are so many others.

Your experiences are your own, but they are felt deeply within countless women who have had to endure anything similar. I have stood before a judge and recounted the worst moments of my life. I have sat with a lawyer and done the same. I have been trapped by a group of men, and I have had the thought they are going to rape me. I can still remember their laughter as I panicked. It was the moment I felt deep in my bones that I was merely a vessel through which men could prove their manhood. I have had to bear my soul publicly in order to be believed. I have had to fight tooth and nail merely to mitigate the damaging effects a man wished to have on my life. I have stood paralyzed in fear while a man swaggered away from me, tickled to have inflicted that fear upon me. I have worked very hard not to let my anger, resentment, and pain eat me alive.

My experiences are my own but they are deeply connected to the experiences of every woman.

At times it can feel painfully hopeless. That we as a nation are failing you just as we failed Anita Hill. That our only option for seeking help and protection is to plead our case to a room full of old, white men who will not understand our experience because they simply refuse to absorb the uncomfortable truth that men in this country treat women like pawns in their chase of the American dream. That bad men are literally everywhere because we teach men to be bad, and we allow them to be bad. I want to scream because time and time again, men decide that it is worse to tarnish a man’s reputation than it is to saddle a woman with a lifetime of psychological trauma at the hands of that man. Men shout at women that their experiences aren’t real, that they’re exaggerated, or maybe worse, that certain sexual assault — by privileged men — does not warrant punishment. Some men believe women and still do not care. Some women believe women and still do not care.

But. Then I watch people like you. Who, with a shaking voice, but rockhard conviction, tell your story, refusing to feel the shame abusers aim to dump on you. I see your grace and power and intelligence. I see the work you did to construct a statement that would tell your truth and combat the narratives haters want to thrust upon you to shut you up or dismiss you. You had to be 10 times more poised than he in order to get a fraction of the respect. I see your pure resolve to do the right thing. To raise your voice so that it might be easier for the next woman. And because I can see that in you, I can see it in myself. I can see it in my sister. In my mom. In my countless badass women friends. Sometimes I can even see it in some men, daring to absorb our stories and grapple with the way we have to navigate the world. (It’s hardly brave, but it’s a start.) I can see it in how we reach across lines of oppression, realizing that the only people who benefit from a lack of intersectionality are the oppressors. There is so much work to do, but people like you remind me that the work can — and must — be done.

You are a force, Dr. Blasey Ford. A force of hope and of change. I am exhausted by the events of this week (I can only imagine how you must be feeling), but I am strengthened because I have someone like you to look up to. When you need support, look to your fellow women. We have your back, and we are incredibly grateful for you.

It is my hope that time will tell that you are a true American hero. And it is my hope that with time, you will bear less and less of this burden.

Thank you. A million times, thank you.

Love & Strength,

Catharine

Writer. Comedian. Actor. Follow me on Twitter @CatharineSavage

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