Christine Blasey Ford, the professor who has accused Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh of sexual assault, spoke quietly, her voice at times wavering, as she began her testimony in front of the Senate Judiciary Committee.
“I am here today not because I want to be. I am terrified,” Blasey Ford said. “I am here because I believe it is my civic duty to tell you what happened to me while Brett Kavanuagh and I were in high school.”
Her appearance in front of the Judiciary Committee Thursday was an extraordinary moment, the intersection of the burgeoning #MeToo movement and the hyper-partisan, cutthroat atmosphere around judicial politics in the Trump era.
Before Thursday, there were only a few public photos of Blasey Ford, who has had to move with her family to escape the attention and threats her allegations have brought. Wearing a dark blue suit and glasses, Blasey Ford appeared nervous and looked down often as the chairman and ranking member of the Judiciary Committee read their opening remarks.
As she recounted her allegations that Kavanaugh and his friend Mark Judge locked her in a bedroom, before Kavanaugh allegedly pinned her to a bed and attempted to grope her, the members of the Senate Judiciary Committee looked at her intently.
“He began running his hands over my body and grinding into me,” she said, sounding on the verge of tears.
“I believed he was going to rape me,” she said.
She said Kavanaugh and Judge laughed during the alleged the attack
“They seemed to be having a very good time,” she said, recalling her attempts to make eye contact with Judge
The room was quiet during her testimony, besides the occasional click of a camera, and the steady tapping of reporters’ on their keyboards.
Blasey Ford sat in the hearing room flanked on both sides by her two lawyers and facing a row of senators in front of her. As Blasey Ford recalled the alleged assault and the impact it had on her throughout her life, she looked down often at her prepared remarks, only occasionally looking up at the senators sitting at the dais in front of her. She appeared emotional, and her voice wavered as she recounted the alleged assault, but she remained composed as she testified in the committee room.
She recalled the times she had discussed the attack with others, including a 2012 therapy session where she and her husband had been fighting about her desire for a second door in a home renovation project.
Blasey Ford then explained her decision to step forward with the allegations.
“I felt that I couldn’t not do it,” she said.
She praised Sen. Feinstein’s decision to initially keep her allegations — which she sent to Feinstein in a letter after discussing them with her congresswoman, Rep. Anna Eshoo — confidential at Blasey Ford’s request.
“Sexual assault victims should be able to decide for themselves whether their private experience is public,” she said.
She sounded especially emotional when she discussed the backlash she faced once she did come out publicly with the allegations.
“I have been called the most vile and hateful names imaginable,” she said.