The testimony in the U.S. Senate involving allegations of sexual assault by Catherine Blasey Ford against Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh hits home for those on the Central Coast working to encourage victims of assault and abuse to come forward and talk about their experiences.
The North County Rape Crisis and Child Protection Center provides support services to victims of sexual assault and abuse.
“Most victims don’t come forward, it’s not unusual that they wait until they are much older if they were abused when they were children or young adults”, said Pat Ford, President of the Board for the North County Rape Crisis Center in Santa Barbara County.
“It comes out when they have problems in their life and it’s a psychological, traumatic experience that they have to keep re-living and re-living and it begins to affect them and then they might come forward”, Ford said, “that’s what we’re seeing in the news today, is someone coming forward years after it happened and that’s not unusual at all.”
Ford says there’s a gradual shift taking place in the country with regard to cultural norms.
“There’s a cultural problem that we have right now, we encourage, at least accept, that “boys will be boys”, we also teach our children, young ladies, that to be appealing they must use their bodies or fashion or hairstyles, not their brains or their talents but instead they have to appeal”, Ford said, “the Me Too movement and the women today are saying, no sir you cannot, just because you’re in power or older than I am or part of my family, no you may not, and so there is a cultural change happening.”
Ford urges those reluctant to come forward and share their experience to reconsider.
“We see people that are seeing problems in their lives and realizing there was something that happened and they’d better start talking about it”, Ford said, “don’t suffer this alone because it won’t go away, we’ve seen proof that it never goes away, it will affect you your whole life so the only way to get through it is talk about it.”
The 24 hour hotline for the North County Rape Crisis and Child Protection Center is (805) 736-7273.