By Dr. Dean Aslinia
As a mental health professional and a sex therapist, I have spent hundreds of hours hearing the stories of sexual abuse victims. I have spent every ounce of my emotional, psychological, and physical energy to remain strong and support, counsel, and empower these individuals. Each time hoping that my efforts will one day lead to them stopping seeing themselves as victims of sexual abuse and shift to an identity as a survivor.
I weep today, due to the recent circus show put forth by the United States Senate Judiciary Committee on September 27thand 28th, 2018, where senators projected an atmosphere of care and empathy to hear a credible sexual abuse victim, Dr. Christine Blasey Ford. In the same breath and in less than 24-hours, without providing the American people the opportunity to process the horrific stories shared, much less any meaningful and independent investigation, free of political agendas, the story progresses with a motion to vote in an attempt to move past the allegations.
I am deeply afraid. Not because of who the next Supreme Court Justice of the United States Supreme Court will be, but of how any other victims of sexual abuse will ever find the courage to speak up again. I have faith that our equal co-branches of government will continue to remain as a system of checks and balances on each other, as our founding fathers had envisioned. Soon, the republicans will again be out of power and the cycles of power will balance themselves yet again, as they have for centuries.
What I fear will remain long after the political implications will be the cultural implications, social norms, and the new elevated standards for validation of sexual abuse victims. How will our daughters, sisters, or mothers ever feel comfortable to come forward with their stories, when a highly credible, educated, university professor who felt compelled to carry out her civic duty was not even given a fair investigation? Instead, what she received was a senate committee hearing flooded by political agendas, where she was outed to the nation as sexual abuse victim. The media and the nation moved on, without any further implications, less than 24-hours later. I wonder if this is the new norm of validation of a woman’s experiences or her stories of sexual abuse.
How will any other girl feel the strength to share her story in much smaller circles? If the U.S. Senate doesn’t care, and if the President of the United States doesn’t care, then how do we expect a teacher or a counselor to care? Will she not ask herself these questions?
As Dr. Ford shared her story of being pinned-down by a drunk man, attempting to remove her clothing, while covering her mouth, I cried. I recalled hearing the stories of my clients. I cannot imagine what millions of women across the nation felt, hearing those words.
Ultimately, 11 white men had the power to independently reach the conclusion that none of the allegations brought forth had any legitimacy, and closed down the conversation. Once more raising the question and perception that one man’s assertive, aggressive, and at times angry words, will outweigh the soft spoken voice of a woman, regardless of her credibility, position, or background.
As a feminist-male-therapist these notions terrify me. I am simply at a loss for words. All I find myself capable of doing is to hope and pray that the next victim that comes to my office will have been asleep during the last two horrific days, and that they will never know of what just happened in the United States of America.
This article was written on Friday September 28, 2018. Shortly after the publication of the article, Senator Jeff Flake of Arizona was confronted by a couple of sexual abuse victims in the halls of the United States Senate. He was the sole undecided vote needed to move the Supreme Court nominee Bret Kavanaugh’s nomination out of committee to the floor of the U.S. Senate. The two protestors asked Senator Flake to look them in the face and to tell them that their stories did not matter. After the short meeting, Senator Flake announced that he would not vote in support of the nomination, until a more thorough investigation by the FBI was allowed. Forced to comply, due to the lack of necessary votes, the White House announced a one-week delay until the FBI could start an investigation. Please check for updates.