Tri-Valley Haven operates the only 24/7 Rape Crisis Center in the Tri-Valley and has served sexual assault survivors since 1981.
It is very common for a sexual assault victim to keep an assault secret for years, as it is not uncommon to remember the assault years after it took place. In fact, most rapes are not ever reported.
Sexual assault is a frightening, traumatic experience, harmful to one's emotional, spiritual and physical health. The most important thing our specially trained staff offer is respect and safety for a survivor to share her/his story to even one person.
Imagine sharing an intimate experience of sexual assault with the U.S. Senate and millions of television viewers. Imagine, too, that six of the 21 senators questioning you about a traumatic sexual assault were part of a small group of senators who voted against the "Violence Against Women Act" in 2013.
Dr. Christine Blasey Ford has exhibited extraordinary courage in coming forward with her accusation of sexual assault by Supreme Court nominee Judge Brett Kavanaugh, knowing full well that people would immediately attack her credibility. Ms. Deborah Ramirez has also demonstrated that same courage.
Both women are asking for an investigation. Local Rape Crisis Center Tri-Valley Haven is standing with Dr. Blasey Ford and Ms. Ramirez in their request for an FBI investigation. We stand with survivors, and we start by believing them.
The fact that most people don't believe survivors is one of the main reasons people don't report or speak up. No sexual assault survivor should be submitted to a U.S. Senate Committee hearing without regard for their safety and credibility. Our "specialty" is helping women who have been victimized by violence, most often by someone they knew.
Dr. Blasey Ford was forced to go public with her story after it was leaked. She and her family were harassed and received so many death threats that they had to move. The real question is not "why did she wait so long to speak out?" but rather, "how did she find the courage to speak out at all?"
Judge Kavanaugh has denied the incident and the committee has not approved Dr. Blasey Ford's request for an investigation, which is standard procedure in situations like this.
When Dr. Anita Hill accused then-Supreme Court nominee Judge Clarence Thomas of assault 27 years ago, an FBI investigation was conducted. Tri-Valley Haven believes that an investigation should be granted in Dr. Blasey Ford and Deborah Ramirez's cases. The senators cannot be unbiased investigators.
Last year in the Tri-Valley, we assisted nearly 350 people through our Rape Crisis Center and fielded 1,500 calls on our Crisis Line. We have a wonderful, seemingly safe community, yet this type of violence is everywhere.
We want to make it safer for women to report and be believed. We can start by believing and go from there. Join us if you can. An official investigation can go about the business of fact-finding.
We stand together with communities across the nation in supporting Dr. Christine Blasey Ford, Ms. Deborah Ramirez and all sexual assault survivors in their quest for a fair hearing as they share the truth.