Dr. Christine Blasey Ford has put her reputation and her personal safety on the line to speak out against sexual assault.
The former classmate of Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh says the judge sexually assaulted her at a party when the two were in high-school. Kavanaugh has denied the charge, leading up to what had seemed like an inevitable showdown between the two, as his nomination hangs in the balance.
Supporters of Kavanaugh say an accusation has threatened his career and reputation though most people have supported Ford’s right ot be heard - pointing out she has nothing to gain by speaking out against him.
In fact, she is risking everything - far more than one man’s ambitions to have a seat on the nation’s highest court.
That’s because Ford says she and her family have received numerous death threats, forcing them to leave their private home and take on a professional security detail.
Aside from the incalcuable emotional costs, private security details are expensive.
So, Georgetown Law Professor Heidi Li Feldman created a GoFundMe account to help pay for Ford’s security costs and in less than 24 hours, it has already raised more than $100,000 from more than 4,000 individual donors.
Feldman says she hopes the campaign will bolster other women to speak out.
Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images.
“Let’s create a fund to cover her security expenses, to do just a bit to make it easier for women in her position to come forward despite great risks,” Feldman writes in a letter on the GoFundMe page. “If we raise more than Dr. Blasey needs, extra funds will go to women’s organizations and/or into an account to cover similar costs incurred in comparable situations.”
Feldman’s campaign quickly went viral, far exceeding its original funding goal. She agreed to raise the goal one final time on Wednesday to $175,000 and promised in her update to donate any funds in excess of Ford’s security costs to women’s organizations and similar efforts.
Ford remains in the spotlight in part because of a disagreement over how the Senate should handle her accusation. Republican Senator have offered her the chance to testify but she has asked the FBI to investigate her claim first, something her lawyer says is necessary to ensure fairness.
Her action isn’t explicitly an indictment of Kavanaugh himself but rather a system that still makes it not only difficult, but oftentimes dangerous, for women to speak out after surviving incidents of sexual assault and harassment.
Still, the more Americans learn about Kavanaugh and the allegation against him, the less supportive of his nomination they become, which has only amplified the attacks on her personal character and the threats against her family:
Creating a safe space for women to come forward is essential to addressing the larger problems of sexual misconduct in our society.
Even if you believe in Brett Kavanaugh’s innocence, ensuring people have the right to have their voices, and their evidence, heard in the court of public opinion is better for democracy, better for decency and better for the rule of law, the very thing Kavanaugh has built his career on protecting.