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Kavanaugh v. Ford? Left v. Right? Job Interview v. Justice?

Victims and Abusers. What exactly is going on here?

As a twenty year victim of domestic abuse, it is impossible not to be affected after watching the questioning of Dr. Christine Blasey Ford. As one analyst stated, “If she’s an actress, she’s a really good one.” And, as many abuse victims know, times and dates may fade, specific details do not. That seemed to hold true during Ford’s questioning.

As a trained journalist, I am also cognizant of the fact that I was seeing one side of the story first. I’m listening to questions, and statements, made mostly by members of our US Senate – human statements, humane comments, some questions. Alongside this process is one Republican Counsel who is asking legal questions and trying to dissect information. As was stated at the beginning, “This is a job interview, not a legal proceeding,” which really brings the question to bear: Why is this not a legal proceeding?

As someone who studied criminal law for four years as an undergrad student, alongside journalism, I consider myself a person capable of understanding our US Judicial System. But, having this knowledge only confuses me further as I try to piece together what is happening here today. Facts, questioning, allegations, sworn testimony: these usually take place in a courtroom during a legal proceeding. So what are we all watching across America, and possibly the world? A job interview? A hearing? Given by well-intentioned elected officials? What, exactly, is going on here? And how did we get to this point?

Next we were able to see the testimony of Judge Brett Kavanaugh. He put a spotlight on some of the issues that have been the topic of much debate this week: the importance of fair treatment for everyone in our legal system being the first and foremost. Our country was built and defined on the notion of due process: fair treatment through the normal judicial system. Not secondary to that, a burning issue right now: innocent until proven guilty, or guilty until proven innocent?

I know one thing for sure. Something will come out of this: Ford’s allegations will prevent Kavanaugh from moving forward, or Kavanaugh will be enabled to be confirmed to the SCOTUS. The danger in either of these scenarios is what it will do to victims and abusers everywhere who have identified with this story and somehow feel that the result will be a personal victory, or a devastating letdown, for themselves.

In a series of controversial statements made this week during his show on FOX News Tonight, Tucker Carlson  questioned why Ford didn’t come out sooner in order to “protect the rest of us?” He also insisted that we should not let the Ford/Kavanaugh matter represent all of mankind. But, as many of us know, and I experienced personally myself, the road for victims once they come out only seems to get steeper. "Victims of domestic violence, sexual violence, or dating abuse are frequently hesitant to come forward," said Katie Ray-Jones, chief executive officer of the National Domestic Violence Hotline and loveisrespect. "Many are in fear of retaliation from the perpetrator, feel they will be blamed for the abuse or may be blaming themselves.  And as we have seen, many times the victim is accused of lying-- especially when the abuser is prominent in the community, powerful, or popular."

As the days go by we will gain our next Supreme Court Justice. Dr. Christine Blasey Ford’s name will slowly fade from our day-to-day conversations. And what will we be left with? What have we learned? As a victim, a survivor, a journalist, and someone who has studied criminal law, I feel that I must say something on behalf of all of us: no one represents any of us. Because if they do, and something goes wrong, we just took a giant leap backwards for all mankind and all womankind. And we can’t let that happen.

Every victim has their own story. And they have the right to bring forth their allegations, be heard, and have those allegations investigated. It is up to our US Judicial System to be ready to receive them, protect them, and treat everyone the same – due process for all.

And here’s something that you just wouldn’t expect an abuse survivor to say, but you know what? I’m well aware of the world that we live in and want to be clear about fairness to all – not all allegations of abuse turn out to be true. Dishonesty about abuse is definitely the exception to the rule, but we need to be aware that it sometimes happens. So allegations of abuse have to be handled the same way – they must be heard, and investigated, and everyone must be treated the same- due process for all and innocent until proven guilty right?

The day we change our process, we have changed our nation. The moment we let others represent us, we have changed our own story. And the minute we rush to judgment without first learning the facts, we have created another victim.

If you are a victim of relationship abuse or want further information PLEASE visit www.TheSoda-Pop.com or call THE NATIONAL DOMESTIC VIOLENCE HOTLINE at:  1-800-799-7233 or visit http://www.thehotline.org for more information, help, and to make a plan for your safety.

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Susan Sparks is a twenty year victim and six year survivor of domestic abuse (SODA™). Her reporting has been seen on national network news and her writing has been featured on national media. As Susan Sparks she is an Expert on YourTango.com and has been featured on The National Domestic Violence Hotline (thehotline.org). She has written a book about her experiences with domestic abuse, Sparks in Love, which she hopes will serve as both an educational and cautionary tale to everyone who reads it. She is the Principal of four enterprises, and one charity, all dedicated to helping people avoid, understand, and prevent domestic abuse. Susan is currently working on three other books to further the cause and hopes to bring Sparks in Love to television in 2019.

Follow Susan at: www.thesoda-pop.com, FACEBOOK, Twitter