Christine Blasey Ford wanted to leave the U.S. once she realized that Brett Kavanaugh, who she says tried to rape her in high school, would likely become a Supreme Court justice. “She was like, ‘I can’t deal with this. If he becomes the nominee, then I’m moving to another country. I cannot live in this country if he’s in the Supreme Court, ’” her husband recalled in an interview with the Washington Post. “She wanted out,” he added, explaining that she even went so far as to look into what other countries the family might move to.
Instead, Ford now faces the possibility of publicly testifying before Congress about the alleged attack amid intense scrutiny from the media and Kavanaugh’s allies, and she has already been the target of death threats, outlandish conspiracy theories, a smear campaign from people as powerful as the president, and the ongoing pressure of being perhaps the only person in the country who can prevent the confirmation of a sure-thing nominee who many believe would be instrumental in overturning Roe vs Wade.
Russell Ford told the Post that his wife was filled with anxiety after each of the last two Supreme Court vacancies, worrying about not only the prospect of living in a country where her attacker was on the highest court in the land, but whether she should come forward with her story. “Her mind-set was, ‘I’ve got this terrible secret. … What am I going to do with this secret?’ ” Mr. Ford said.
Her anxieties were warranted, considering the amount of attention and vitriol she and her family have already faced. Thanks to the death threats and media onslaught, the couple fled their home soon after Ms. Ford came forward last week. “I said that Mommy had a story about a Supreme Court nominee, and now it’s broken into the news, and we can’t stay in the house anymore,” Mr. Ford told their two children, who the couple has looked into protecting with a private security service.
The Post talked to Ford’s husband, friends, colleagues, and even her favorite high school teacher in order to piece together more information about her upbringing and how the alleged assault has had an impact on her life. One close high school friend explained that the Washington, D.C., prep-school culture she, Ford, and Kavanaugh were a part of in the early 1980s was often centered around alcohol, and that fending off the aggressive advances of drunk boys at parties was definitely a common problem. “The boys were pretty brutal,” the friend, Andrea Evers, said. “They would do what they could to get you drunk, and do whatever they would try to do to you.”
Earlier in the week, the New York Times reported that another friend remembers that Ford “fell off the face of the earth socially” following the alleged assault, which she did not acknowledge to anyone. She fled for good after graduating high school, instead.
Ford decided to leave town for a distant, big state university in North Carolina. She ended up avoiding the college party scene there, which according to the Post, reminded her too much of the prep school culture she had tried to get away from. Ford struggled in her classes as well, and said when she came forward that this was an effect of the assault having “derailed” her. After an intervention from a friend, however, she became more focused and successfully earned a psychology degree.
After graduating, Ford got even further away, to California, where she earned two advanced degrees in psychology, and got into surfing. After marrying her husband in 2002, she then got another master’s degree from Stanford, where she focused her thesis on the dynamic between trauma and depression. Afterwards, as a professor at two bay area universities, she continued to research the resilience and growth of trauma victims.
“You can always recover,” she has told graduate students, but very few people knew she was also speaking from experience.
Ford and her lawyer have pushed back on attempts by the GOP-led Senate Judiciary Committee to rush her testimony on the alleged attack, and they successfully challenged Senator Chuck Grassley’s two separate Friday deadlines for coming to an agreement. Ford’s lawyer said on Friday that one reason they are looking to slow down the process was that Ford had to meet with the FBI on Friday to discuss the death threats she has received.
Grassley and other Republican lawmakers who want to see Kavanaugh swiftly confirmed may want to avoid having her show up. Should she testify, they will undoubtedly question her motives and challenge account of the attack, but they won’t just be questioning a survivor, they’ll be dealing with a well-respected expert and educator on the psychological impact of that survival.