Christine Blasey Ford considered the fallout from her testimony last year, war gaming what could come from telling the world that eventual Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh sexually assaulted her.
But it was a sense of obligation and a channeling of Anita Hill that drove her, Ford said Sunday, when she accepted an award from the American Civil Liberties Union of Southern California.
“I did not feel courageous. I was simply doing my duty as a citizen, providing information to the Senate that I believed would be relevant to the Supreme Court nomination process,” she said. “I thought anyone in my position would of course do the same thing.”
Ford has rarely made public appearances since she testified last September that Kavanaugh pinned her on a bed, groped her and covered her mouth when she tried to scream in an encounter when they were both teenagers in suburban Maryland.
Kavanaugh fiercely denied those allegations, and the Republican-controlled Senate had just enough votes to confirm his position on the Supreme Court, the narrowest confirmation for the court in more than a century.
“I understood that not everyone would welcome my information, and I was prepared for a variety of outcomes, including being dismissed,” she said while accepting the Roger Baldwin Courage award.
During her appearance, which was not previously announced, Ford recalled Hill’s testimony in 1991, when she accused Justice Clarence Thomas of sexual harassment years before.
She also echoed the words of former NFL quarterback Colin Kapernick, who accepted an award at the same event in 2017, saying “we all have an obligation, no matter the risk and regardless of the reward to stand up for fellow men and women.”
Ford said she received 200,000 messages of support from around the world, many of whom wrote handwritten letters describing their own harrowing experiences with rape and sexual assault.
“My voice was just one voice. You are many. We are many,” she said.
Ford, a psychology professor at Palo Alto University, has not made many public appearances since her testimony. It resulted in death threats, she said, and she used public donations to provide security to her family.
The testimony has also lingered for Kavanaugh.
The Supreme Court justice was honored at the conservative Federalist Society gala on Thursday, and incoming guests were confronted with a video loop of Ford’s 2018 remarks while protesters swarmed the area dressed as the childbearing slaves from the dystopian novel “The Handmaid’s Tale.”
If you or someone you know needs resources or support related to sexual violence, contact the Maine Coalition Against Sexual Assault’s 24/7 hotline at 800-871-7741.