Dr. Christine Blasey Ford’s testimony in Justice Kavanaugh’s nomination proceedings, the #MeToo movement, and the appointment of Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court will and have had a lasting impact on our everyday lives. Whether you’re a political person or not, conservative or progressive, single, married, or divorced, women are feeling the Kavanaugh effects. But today, this post is here to remind you that if you are hurt, if you feel silenced, if you feel powerless, you are not alone—other women are not only feeling the same way as you but are here to support you.
Women across the political spectrum have reached out to SAS for Women to share their reactions to the Kavanaugh nomination hearing and Dr. Christine Blasey Ford’s testimony. You may see yourself in some of their experiences and emotions. Even when things look darkest, we have other women whom we can create a community of care and support with.
The women below wished to be kept anonymous, so all names used are fictitious.
Twenty-three years ago, Mariana P. was in college when she was sexually assaulted. She didn’t report it. “Right now, my brain is consumed with the fact that I’m thinking about divorce, have a lot of work-related stress, and parenting a special needs child,” she said. For her, living now in Madison, Wisconsin, “the Kavanaugh nomination [now confirmation] and testimony has opened up old wounds.”
Thursday after work, I found myself buried under the covers of my bed and just cried for a couple of hours . . . I felt completely alone.
It’s amazing how quickly 23 years can disappear, leaving one feeling like a scared college girl again, trying to make sense of something terrible that’s happened to you. Mariana’s husband, soon to be Ex, knows of her past and her story but couldn’t be there for her.
Divorce is hard for so many reasons—not just because of the problems driving us to end our marriage but sometimes because we feel like we’re losing one of our closest friends and confidants. Even if those beliefs are fantasies (and he was never there) or actually based on another time when your marriage was stronger, the revelation hurts. Other times, political or social issues underscore the rifts and disappointments we are feeling in our intimate world. Survivors like Mariana are finding themselves triggered by Christine’s testimony and the appointment of Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court. If you’re feeling overwhelmed by those emotions, find community, a guided support group, a friend or family member, or a professional.
Lorraine T. has been married for 10 years, with the last five years of her marriage described as rough. She loves her three beautiful children and is in school working toward a degree, but she also feels trapped. Her husband gaslights her. She feels like she can do better on her own without his lies and manipulative behavior. She feels so consumed by her own life and sense of loss that she hasn’t even been able to turn on the TV and listen to the news about Kavanaugh.
And that’s totally fine. When our own lives get overwhelming, sometimes it’s too much to look beyond our immediate problems at the bigger social picture. What’s most important is getting yourself and your situation sorted so that you feel like you are in a safe space. Piling social problems on top of personal problems only adds to feelings of being overwhelmed and isn’t healthy for anyone.
If you are in an abusive marriage and want to figure a way out, you will want to read: “Leaving an Abusive Marriage? There are Steps You Need to Take First”
Representing another point of view is Frieda in Utica, New York. A registered nurse, who is divorced after 28 years of marriage and the mother to two young adults. Frieda says, “Frankly I am starting to feel sorry for the men. No one can give a woman a compliment for fear of losing their job. Women can accuse men of things with NO PROOF whatsoever. No one deserves to be raped but when a woman uses her feminine wiles to appeal to a man’s baser instinct to get a job or promotion (and yes this DOES occur), they should own up to the fact that they ‘played the game’ and expected something in return. Pretty soon, we won’t be able to speak to the opposite sex. I am disgusted with Dr. Ford. This guy had some fairly big jobs before, and it took 40 years for the ‘trauma’ to emerge?”
Frieda, thank you for taking the time to share your view. Your perspective and conflation of Dr. Ford with other experiences you’ve observed points to the complexity and emotional volatility related to these issues.
Living in New York City, Heeyeon S. is angry. “[I’m] very angry with the Brett Kavanaugh nomination, appointment, and the way Christine Blasey Ford has been treated by the Republicans and other Americans throughout this process.” She sees this as “a manifestation of how men in power can force their will on all of us. What’s happening is a metaphor for sexual assault itself. The more we say ‘No, stop, this isn’t right,’ the more they insist, force, and bully us.”
Anger is a valid reaction to what is happening and to what is going on in American politics right now. Heeyeon elaborates, saying “I don’t know what to do with this anger. Suppressing it is not an option. I have enough suppressed anger to last me various lifetimes! I would like to use this anger in a constructive way to make a change, but that’s easier said than done.”
Heeyeon is also adjusting to life as a recently single woman after 35 years of marriage and is trying to “reevaluate and reconcile my past” with “how to go on in a productive way, with me at the center, for the first time ever.” Trying to find the center and balance in a newly single life is already rough, but add to that the anger and resentment many women across the nation are feeling about Kavanaugh and life gets a little bit harder. In times like this, it’s good to remember not just your own past but also the fact that other women out there feel the same way you do.
If you feel like Heeyeon too—angry with the strong need to do something—keep reading below.
Married for 28 years, divorced now for three, Matilda is an art teacher doing her own work and “loving life and my freedom.” However, when it comes to the Kavanaugh confirmation, she’s so angry she wants to put her emotion to work. “I WANT TO GET INVOLVED in something related to our politics because I am outraged and tearful. Would love to hear what others are doing!”
As we say, keep reading.
As if in answer to Matilda’s and Heeyeon’s rage, Katrina, widowed and living in Brooklyn shared this link with the SAS community on how Democrats can regain the House in November by getting out the vote in key swingable districts. “If you or anyone you know wants to channel their outrage into useful action, this organization—Swing Left—is a good place to start,” says Katrina.
“Neither the Kavanaugh/Ford situation or the #MeToo movement play any role in the downfall of my marriage,” says Celine D. Celine has been married for ten years and is a teacher and a mother to two in Austin, Texas. “My husband decided he no longer wanted to be a husband. He was unhappy and wasn’t going to change, he told me. He refused marriage counseling, individual counseling, and anything else that represented him not quitting the marriage. He said he didn’t want to answer to anyone and wanted to do as he pleased (staying out all night drinking). Picking up the pieces of a broken family and learning a new normal as a single mom is what I am facing. My marriage had its issues well before these things made the news.”
We get it, Celine. It’s hard to imagine how headlines can impact our own fight for survival. And yet we know, when the dust settles after “resolving” your relationship, you will want the best options available to you as a newly independent woman. And we hope your health insurance and your ability to exercise choice when it comes to freedoms for your body and your daughter’s is not mitigated as a result of these political times.
“It’s as if we continue to hit these watershed moments, points of no return, when the rifts in our country our ripped open so seismically that the gap seems impossible to mend,” says Eliza C., an educator who is divorced and living in Minnesota. “Each time, we think it’s a new reckoning, a new all-time low—or for some, a long-awaited vindication, a new dawn. What’s clear is this gaping wound is not being tended to but fed. The leaders who might be trying to help us learn what healing looks like (the Martin Luther Kings, the activist peacemakers) are not given airtime. Their message doesn’t sell. Mutual hate is amped.
It reminds me of a marriage spiraling out of control, where both spouses believe they are the one who is right. They are unable to communicate or hear each other. Vilification of the other is easy. Hitting pause to listen and really hear what is going on is the work we must do.
Believe me, I have to check myself for I too am growing intolerant of this dated white male privilege we see personified by Kavanaugh’s confirmation. But is my participation in ‘the hating’ moving us along the evolutionary path? I don’t think so. Trying to forge through conflict with an eye toward healing is the hardest thing of all. My divorce taught me that.”
Separated and the mother to one young adult son in Manhattan, Susan, like other women who wrote us, feels the urgency to channel her rage into action. “There’s Postcards to Voters which anyone can do from home, as many or as few as you have time or energy for. I’ve been writing these with friends. We get together for tea … and other drinks, and instead of just kvetching, we are doing something! Well, we kvetch, too. But it sure feels good to vent and take action.”
Helena W., still married, shares that “watching the Kavanaugh hearings and knowing of his appointment has been an overwhelming experience for me as a woman. I remembered so many times during my life when I felt cornered or uncomfortable around men and frighteningly aware of my own physical vulnerability.” But there is hope out there, and Helena has tapped into it. “Since the Kavanaugh hearings,” she writes, “I have been in touch with a wide range of friends from ages 27 to 85—all of whom have stories about work-related sexual harassment.”
The Senate confirming this man feels like a blow. The message is clear—the men with the greatest power in the country do not care about women. They do not believe our stories and they do not feel women should have control of their own bodies.
But Helena, living in Upstate New York, does find a silver lining despite Kavanaugh’s confirmation. While the stories are sad and the situations are dire, she is working on building herself a network of support and care through reaching out to her friends and sharing stories. “I heard the wonderful, clear and expressive voices of the ‘elevator women’ who confronted Senator Jeff Flake. I heard their pain, and I saw his expression when he was forced to face a concept that had dissolved and took human form.”
‘Don’t look away from me,’ one of the women cried. That battle cry alone gives me hope for the future.
Brenda, divorced and living in Columbus, Ohio, is rebuilding her life after 42 years of marriage. The pain, the loss, and the learning that presents itself after such a momentous break up has Brenda considering things in a different way. We like so much what Brenda says (born from her firsthand experience) that it inspires us to end this post with her words:
“It’s fall: election season. I’m watching what everyone else sees: polarization and a reduction in civil discourse. But I thought of something today. Just as in a “carbon footprint,” what if we had a “civility footprint”? Except this one you want to grow larger, not smaller.
I know from experience that all meaningful change happens at the personal level. Therefore, what if you leaned into discomfort and listened, actually listened to those around you who have ideas widely divergent from yours? What if you gave them respect, instead of dismissing, or worse yet, yelling at them or shutting them off? What if, when they are sharing the ideas most different from yours, you allowed yourself to be even more uncomfortable and said “TELL ME MORE….”
Here’s the thing: ‘PEOPLE ARE HARD TO HATE CLOSE UP: MOVE IN!!!’
Those are not my words about moving in, but Brene Brown’s. ‘The point.’ says Brown, “is that we are all vulnerable to the slow and insidious practice of dehumanizing, therefore we are all responsible for recognizing and stopping it.’
We cannot ask politicians to reach across the aisle unless we ourselves are doing it. TAKE THE CHALLENGE!”
While these women have had a vast range of reactions and experiences throughout Dr. Ford’s testimony and the Kavanaugh confirmation to the Supreme Court, all have felt the need to share their stories to help other women experiencing similar emotions feel less alone. Among these sisters, too, are those who build upon the momentum of sharing and offer us resources or a challenge to inspire us to be more and do more. If any of these stories connect with you or if you simply feel like sharing your thoughts or a resource you know, we would love to hear from you. We invite you to comment below.
Since 2012, smart women around the world have chosen SAS for Women to partner them through the challenging experience of divorce. Now you can secure female-centered support, information, and next steps if you are thinking about divorce or beginning the process through Annie’s Group, our virtual divorce support group for women. The next Annie’s Group starts October 23. Please know that for safety and confidentiality, space is limited. Visit here for details.