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  • Byron Wellman

Mistaken Identity

I was sexually assaulted the summer I graduated high school. There were no cell phones or video cameras to chronicle it. No counselors or confidants with whom I felt comfortable sharing it.

I told no one, but God.

Now, a little over 30 years later, I don’t remember the exact date, time or location of the assault. But I’ll never forget the pain, hurt, guilt, shame and fear he caused.

And no, I never reported it.

Who was I gonna tell? Certainly not my dad who had finally allowed me to go on the date and would’ve killed him…literally.

I get that some can’t understand why many survivors don’t report. But, take a look at how we treat the ones who do.

Those who represent constituencies of millions in a country where millions of women and girls are sexually assaulted, shouldn’t have the luxury of being cynical, patronizing or indifferent.

And yet, that’s exactly what we saw during Kavanaugh’s confirmation hearing. Ad nauseam.

Think back to what they did to Anita Hill in 1991. After disclosing that she had been sexually harassed well in advance of Clarence Thomas’ confirmation hearing, she too, was shamed and blamed, like so many survivors.

I remember wondering why any woman would subject herself to that. Seems we’re damned if we do (report) and damned if we don’t.

Fast forward 27 years…

And I never thought I would be disclosing my truth. Not here. Not now. Not ever. But, Recy Taylor, Anita Hill and Christine Blasey Ford changed that.

Had the guy who assaulted me been short-listed for a seat on the highest court in the land, I suspect I would’ve done exactly what Dr. Ford did. After 30+ years, my truth could conceivably be overshadowed by the same gaps, the same skepticism, the same inconsistencies and yes, the same indifference.

And while my ability to remember every detail of the assault may be sketchy, the identity of the person who assaulted me, isn’t.

Dr. Ford’s testimony was “compelling” and “credible” for good reason. Putting her private pain on public display in a male-dominated, politically-charged environment and identifying Brett Kavanaugh as her assailant with 100% certainty was beyond courageous. For this Committee to refute only that portion of her testimony, was to refute all of her testimony.

Why not just call her a liar, outright?

And if anyone made a mockery of the proceedings, it was Sen. Lindsey Graham with his own partisan, political sideshow…insisting that Senate Dems master-minded and orchestrated this to destroy Kavanaugh’s family and derail his Supreme Court nomination, as if he were entitled to the seat.

Let’s hope that cabinet appointment or whatever Trump promised him was worth the soul he sold to get it.

I’ve lived in South Carolina all my life, so I’m accustomed to being embarrassed on a national stage, but if Lindsey is the best we can do, it’s easy to see why our state is always last & lovin’ it.

Truth is…nobody plays partisan political games with Supreme Court nominations better than our Republican-controlled Senate. Just ask Judge Merrick Garland.

Sexual assault is not a partisan, political issue.

But one wouldn’t know that by listening to Kavanaugh’s partisan rant...a smorgasbord of partiality, dishonesty, rage, anger and “crocodile tears.” All were highly inappropriate, spoke directly to his credibility and judicial temperament and warranted his immediate disqualification.

Those who’ve been impacted most by this sham of a process are Dr. Ford and millions of women and girls who probably thought they didn’t matter.

Now, they know.

From the Catholic Church to Clarence Thomas to Donald Trump and now Brett Kavanaugh…powerful men have always been able to operate above the law.

So, Kavanaugh’s confirmation comes as no surprise. And just like Anita Hill, Dr. Ford probably watched in horror as her worst nightmare walked right into his dream job.

Sadly, we now live in an America where a reality-tv guy can collude his way to the Oval Office, mock sexual assault survivors and people with disabilities, espouse racist, sexist, misogynistic and treasonous views, lie practically every time he opens his mouth, admit he’s a sexual predator, pay off porn-star paramours and have numerous sexual misconduct allegations lodged against him, without consequence.

If “this is us,” it’s not Brett Kavanaugh’s identity we should be questioning. It’s ours…

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