“They were laughing with each other… two friends having a really good time with one another.”
On Thursday 27 September, Christine Blasey Ford appeared before a Senate judiciary committee hearing in Washington DC to testify against President Donald Trump’s Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh.
Ford alleges that Kavanaugh sexually assaulted her at a house party in the early Eighties, when they were both teenagers. When she learned of Trump’s desire to promote Kavanaugh to the highest court in America, Ford confidentially alerted her senator, Dianne Feinstein, of the accusation. She only went public with her story after it began to leak in the press.
Today marks the first time that Ford has spoken publicly about her allegations. Here, we bring you the most important moments from the hearing so far.
Ford “thought that Brett was accidentally going to kill me”
“I believed he was going to rape me,” Ford said. Kavanaugh put his hand on her mouth to keep her from screaming, she said, and because it was hard for her to breathe, “I thought that Brett was accidentally going to kill me.”
“This is what terrified me the most and had the most lasting impact on my life. It was hard for me to breathe, and I thought that Brett was accidentally going to kill me.”
Ford says her “strongest memory” of the incident is the “uproarious laughter”
When asked by Democratic Senator Patrick Leahy about her strongest memory of the attack, Ford replied: “Indelible in the hippocampus is the laughter. The uproarious laughter between the two, and their having fun at my expense.”
By “the two”, she was referring to Kavanaugh and his friend Mark Judge, who she says was in the room at the time of the assault.
“They were laughing with each other,” Ford said.
“And you were the object of the laughter?” Senator Patrick Leahy asked.
“I was underneath one of them while the two laughed. Two friends having a really good time with one another,” she replied.
Ford recalls her “multiple attempts to escape”
Ford said Judge, who has denied any part in such an attack, jumped on her and Kavanaugh and this enabled her to escape.
Asked what she remembers from that night, Ford responded: “The stairwell, the living room, the bedroom, the bed on the right side of the room as you walk into the room — there was a bed to the right — the bathroom in close proximity, the laughter — the uproarious laughter — and the multiple attempts to escape and the final ability to do so.”
Ford explains how the incident has impacted her life
“The initial four years after the event I struggled academically and in college, I had a very hard time, more so than others, forming friendships and friendships with boys,” said Ford. “Brett’s assault on me drastically altered my life.”
She added that she has also experienced “anxiety, phobia and PTSD-type symptoms. More specifically, claustrophobia, panics and things like that”.
The incident has “been seared in my memory and haunted me episodically as an adult,” said Ford.
Ford explains how PTSD works, for those who are unfamiliar with post-traumatic stress disorder
Ford, a professor of psychology at Palo Alto University and a researcher at Stanford University, was forced to explain how exactly anxiety and PTSD works during the hearing.
“The ideology of anxiety and PTSD is multi-factorial, so that was certainly a critical risk - we would call it a ‘risk factor’ in science - so that would be a predictor of the symptoms that I now have,” she said. “It doesn’t mean that other things that have happened in my life would make it better or worse.”
She then talked of biological and environmental risk factors that can contribute to a person’s anxiety or PTSD.
Ford explains why she decided to go public with her allegations
Until July 2018, Ford said, she had never named Kavanaugh as her attacker outside of therapy. She said seeing Kavanaugh’s name on the short list of candidates for a Supreme Court appointment made her feel it was her “civic duty” to share what had happened.
“It was an extremely hard thing to do, but I felt that I couldn’t not do it,” she said.
She told the committee that she is “here today not because I want to be. I am terrified. I am here because I believe it is my civic duty to tell you what happened to me while Brett Kavanaugh and I were in high school.”
Ford says she has been subjected to death threats after coming forward with her story
The professor said she recently insisted on the installation of a second front door on her house in a renovation to add a feeling of security.
She also revealed she has received death threats, had personal details of her life posted online and had to flee her home and hire security guards since going public, adding: It has “rocked me to my core”.
Ford says she is 100% sure that Kavanaugh assaulted her
When asked by Senator Dick Durbin of the degree of certainty she believes Kavanaugh was the person who assaulted her (he prefaced his question by saying, “A polished liar can create a seamless story, but a trauma survivor cannot be expected to remember every detail”), Ford replied: “100%.”
This article will be updated throughout the hearing.