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Public Trauma

Posted on November 12 2020

"Rotterdam Pride" By C,Suthorn, licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0



By Courtney Martin

CONTENT WARNING: Sexual assault and trauma


The year is 2018 and Brett Kavanaugh has secured a nomination to the Supreme Court. With incredible bravery and grace, Dr. Christine Blasely Ford stepped forward with allegations of sexual misconduct against him and the world was instantly divided. This is the stage for my nervous breakdown.


Dr. Ford publicly came forward to let us all know that Brett Kavanaugh, a man being considered to hold up our highest court, had sexually assaulted her as a teenager. The trial began and the world developed many opinions. As a survivor myself who has hidden her sexual assault until adulthood I felt like I was watching my own story unfold. Dr. Ford was repeatedly called a liar and publicly shamed for not coming forward sooner and in these accusations, I saw myself. I saw how the world would treat me if I were to come forward about my abuse. It completely unraveled me.


The trials were all I could think about, all I could talk about. I was highly unpleasant to be around and became quick to anger. One day a casual conversation at my office turned to Dr. Ford with a female co-worker stating “If I was on trial for everything I did in high school and college, I’d look pretty bad too.” My scathing response “I hope you weren’t going around sexually assaulting people in high school and college,” cleared the room quickly. People began to actively avoid me as I became more visibly distraught. I’d spend hours doom scrolling on Facebook and sharing every meme and story I could. To me, it felt like I had to change everyone’s opinions, I had to make them see how wrong it was to allow this man to be a part of our Supreme Court and in doing so I felt I could protect myself from the same treatment as Dr. Ford was receiving.


My nervous breakdown culminated on a fun night out with friends. We were all drinking at a local bar and I had a bit too much. Anyone who would listen was hearing the story of Dr. Ford and Brett Kavanaugh. Finally, my husband decided to take me home but not before stopping at Taco Bell for a bit of sober up food. After leaving with tacos secured on my lap, my poor husband made the mistake of not agreeing with me. I asked him what he thought about the scum that is Kavanaugh and he replied that he did not know enough about the case to make an informed decision. I lost my mind. I began screaming at the poor man, demanding he let me out of the vehicle. Finally a short distance from the house, I began chucking every single item of food at him, covering my sweet husband in Taco Bell. When we stopped to turn into our driveway, I leapt from the car and ran into the woods.


I hid in the woods for over an hour, sobbing uncontrollably and not understanding why my husband wouldn’t agree with me. To me, it felt like he had called me a liar about my own sexual assault by not believing Dr. Ford immediately without question. It was an arrow to my heart and I felt more alone and abandoned than I ever had in my life. Finally, I gathered the courage to walk back to our house and talk to my husband about everything I was feeling. He agreed that I was taking this too personally and that maybe something deeper was going on. The next day I began looking for a therapist.


Mental health can be so touchy and watching something so dramatic unfold on the public stage can be very harmful for some people. Dr. Ford and her bravery inspired me and terrified me. I cannot imagine how hard it would be to stand in the public eye like she did and be called a liar. This saga inspired me to really listen to others and to realize that sometimes stepping back can be a good thing. Dr. Ford is still my hero and two years later, I still think of her daily. Her bravery inspired me to face my own demons and seek help for the trauma I had endured that sounded so much like hers. For that, I thank her.


Courtney is a writer and editor living in Middle Tennessee. To follow her journey of feminism, motherhood and witchcraft, follow her on Instagram.




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