It took me 30 years to tell anyone. And I’m far from alone.
The courage of survivors will always be stronger than Donald Trump’s misogyny. The lives of survivors will always be more important than Brett Kavanaugh’s career.
When I was sexually assaulted, I wasn’t that much older than Christine Blasey Ford — who now has a PhD in psychology — was when she says Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaughsexually assaulted her (Kavanaugh denies the incident occurred). I’ve watched, horrified, as politicians and pundits refused to believe or take seriously these allegations.
Then on Friday morning, President Trump tweeted that if Ford’s words were true, she would have filed a report with local law enforcement years ago. This statement chilled me to my core.
Far too many of us know that what President Trump said is simply not true. Victims of sexual assault often don’t report what happened because they know all too well that our stories are rarely taken seriously or believed — and that when it comes to sexual misconduct, our justice system is broken. Now we are seeing our worst nightmares realized when we see the disbelief, pushback, hate, and death threats Ford is receiving just because she had the courage to speak up.
It took me years after my assault to voice the experience to my closest friends. It took me three decades to tell my parents that the assault had even happened. I never filed a police report. I never told officials. I never tried to find justice for my pain because justice was never an option.
For me, speaking up meant reliving one of the worst moments of my life. It meant recognizing my attacker’s existence when I wanted nothing more than to forget that he was allowed to walk on this earth at all. This is what every survivor goes through. Telling our stories means being vulnerable to public attacks and ridicule when our only “crime” was to be assaulted in the first place.
And we are not alone. One in four girls and one in six boys will be sexually abused before they turn 18 years old. This is the reality for survivors of sexual assault: Our journey begins in fear and, for many of us, it continues in fear for the rest of our lives.
Yet today, we will not be silenced.
On Friday, in response to President Trump’s tweet, I decided to speak out about my own experience — and I welcomed other survivors of sexual assault to do the same. I encourage you to read the replies of people across the country who have carried the burden of being a survivor, sometimes for years, and never reported it.
Our stories are not rare; they are tragically common. This is the pain that people across the country carry with them every single day. I encourage you to listen to members of your family, to your neighbors, to those in your community who are living with an experience similar to Ford’s. But, most importantly, if you are also a survivor, I encourage you to honor your own experiences and your own voice, in your own time.
Despite the alleged actions of Brett Kavanaugh, despite the words of President Trump, and despite the silence from so many of our lawmakers, you are valuable. You are human. You are important.
And no one — not a Supreme Court nominee and not a president — can take that away from you.
So let me be as clear as possible: I believe Christine Blasey Ford, and I demand that our senators vote to reject Brett Kavanaugh as the next justice on the Supreme Court. Every person who refuses to loudly and openly reject Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination is telling every generation of Americans that an alleged abuser’s career is more valuable than a survivor’s humanity. And the highest court in our land is no place for an alleged sexual offender to sit.
To every survivor reading this, know that I am here with you. Know that I see you. I believe you. I am you. And know that we will do whatever we can to stop Brett Kavanaugh from serving on the Supreme Court of our United States.
Alyssa Milano is an actor, activist, and producer. She is also the founder of #NoRA and Patriot NOT Partisan, a co-chair of Health Care Voter, and a board member of the ERA Coalition.