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'The men’s club of abuse is on trial': Sexual assault survivors speak out during Kavanaugh's confirmation process

'The men’s club of abuse is on trial': Sexual assault survivors speak out during Kavanaugh's confirmation process
Protesters against Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh gather in the atrium of the Hart Senate Office Building in Washington, D.C., on Oct. 4. (Manuel Balce Ceneta / AP)

On Sept. 16, when Brett Kavanaugh’s confirmation as a Supreme Court justice seemed assured, the Washington Post published an article that identified Christine Blasey Ford as the writer of a letter accusing Kavanaugh of sexual assault 36 years ago.

That’s also when women started sending letters to the Los Angeles Times about their own assaults, many of which happened several decades ago, according to the writers. Since Ford identified herself as Kavanaugh’s accuser, a few dozen women recounting their assaults by men have been among the hundreds of writers who shared their opinions on the Supreme Court nominee. Many of these writers asked for anonymity (and generally, The Times does not print unsigned letters).

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A few of those signed letters have been published. Now, with the confirmation process winding down and Kavanaugh all but guaranteed a seat on the Supreme Court, and with President Trump declaring that men today risk having their lives ruined by false allegations of rape and other crimes, here is a selection of the letters sent to us over the last few weeks by women who say they were sexually assaulted or subjected to other forms of misconduct.

And wrongly accused men? Since Ford came forward last month, prompting many women to write about the assaults they’ve endured, one male reader has written to us to say he was the subject of a false allegation.

Joan Ribeck of Altadena writes:

In 1973, while I was hitchhiking to work, a man raped me twice and almost killed me. I immediately reported it, and an officer tried to tell me that I had asked for it.

I told him that I had put my earring under the seat so my attacker could be identified easily. It was years before they found the earring, and I never got my day in court.

As I watched the Kavanaugh hearing on Sept. 27, I cried and grew outraged that our elected officials are willing to go so far to obscure the truth and seat this nominee on the Supreme Court. The men’s club of abuse is on trial, and all women are waiting to see if our leaders are fit to serve.

For those women who defend them, shame on you.

Rochelle Caddick of Grass Valley, Calif., writes:

Some say that for assaults that happened long ago, the perpetrator might have changed and should therefore not be punished.

When I was 11 or 12 years old, I was assaulted. Last year I opened up to my family and friends about it. My brain blocked the memories all those years. Due to recent events, a Pandora's box was opened, and effects of the assault started to show.

I avoid certain places because, though my attacker has changed, my fear and anxiety are triggered by the memory of his presence. When I told my family about this, they pointed out that the man who assaulted me has by now almost certainly changed.

Our society does this too often. We dismiss what happened years ago. We don’t stop to consider the lifelong effect assault has on the survivor. We make excuses — “oh, but he was drunk.” So? We hold drunk drivers accountable.

When excuses are made as to why the assaulter shouldn't face a penalty because so much time has passed, it hurts. It tells me the memories, the pain, the burden I have to carry for the rest of my life do not matter. It tells me that the person who assaulted me is worth more.

Jocelyn DeVault of Newbury Park writes:

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There seems to be a lot of confusion as to why sexual assault victims do not call the police immediately. I can tell you why.

I was assaulted five times starting when I was 6 or 7 years old (and no, I do not remember the dates), and even at that age, I felt like I was doing something wrong.

As a woman now in her mid-50s, I felt an acceptance that “this is what boys and men do.” I never had therapy and didn’t feel a need for it.

I now see how sad and pathetic that was.

Natalie Kolosow of Cypress writes:

I was raped at the age of 28, and I went to court to testify against the rapist. I was not deterred even though his lawyer was unrelenting with his questioning and the attacker’s mother threatened me.

Everyone needs to take responsibility for what happens to them. You don’t like what you see or what is going on, then leave and report it.

Girls supposedly mature faster than boys. This is what I was told in school, but do they? It is time for everyone to accept what they have done in the past and present without putting blame on someone else.

Barbara Terrill of Monrovia writes:

More than 50 years ago, as an 18-year-old college freshman, I managed to get away from a young man who wasn't about to take no for an answer. I was late for curfew at the dorm and was disciplined for tardiness, even after telling my story.

As a 20-year-old employee at a manufacturing company, I was summoned to the boss’ office and was then grabbed and pulled down onto his lap, where he started kissing me against my will. I hurried out of his office but never said anything. I was afraid I’d lose my job.

While teaching middle school, I was subjected to really lewd, sexually explicit joking by a fellow teacher. I asked him several times to stop doing it around me. He didn’t, so I reported him. He had the nerve to come back and ask me why I’d reported him.

In the intervening years, I have tried to teach my daughters and the young women I came in contact with how important it is to speak out. Some of them have — but some of them haven't.

It is disheartening to me that so little progress has been made. It is equally disheartening to hear some women dismiss the stories of other women.

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