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Despite pitfalls, sexual misconduct victims consider speaking out

The parallels between the situations faced by Anita Hill and Christine Blasey Ford are obvious. Both accused Supreme Court nominees of sexual misconduct, of course. For each, doing so meant going up against men with impressive backgrounds and powerful supporters. Both spent hours before the Senate and the press, opening their lives to scrutiny.

Both are heroes to many people. Not only did they put their personal discomfort aside to share crucial information about Supreme Court nominees, but they also served as inspiration for other victims. They are worthy of admiration for undergoing such an ordeal as victims of sexual misconduct even when they weren't certain they would be believed.

Were they believed? Certainly not by everyone, but yes. They were believed by many women and men, by other victims, and by people of good will.

Did they make a difference? Even though Clarence Thomas was ultimately seated on the Supreme Court, and even if Brett Kavanaugh gets the nod, yes, they made a difference by empowering those who have been in similar situations to not be afraid to speak up about what they experienced. Anita Hill may have single-handedly educated a nation about sexual harassment law. Dr. Ford's demeanor, poise and confidence forced Congress to take the debate seriously.

At the Law Office of Twila S. White, we support victims

It can be hard to watch a victim, whether male or female, describe their experience, especially when they have to do so in an adversarial forum. It can be harder still to be that victim.

Many people watching these hearings see reason for cynicism. After all, Dr. Ford was essentially the perfect witness. She's a University of Southern California and Stanford-educated psychology professor with a distinguished resume. She had made no major missteps that could call her credibility into question. Yet even this extremely believable witness had to confront the disbelief of her detractors.

Calling sexual wrongdoers to account is not easy. Victims do deal with the hurt of being disbelieved. They're often blamed for what happened to them. Even when their stories are believed, it doesn't necessarily result in punishment for the perpetrators. Many are given a pass simply because they're in positions of power.

Still, working to hold them responsible can be part of the healing process. Those who commit sexual harassment or misconduct are breaking the law. They are harming others. As the #MeToo movement has shown, it is increasingly possible to succeed.

The time for cynicism is over

At the Law Office of Twila S. White, we think the time for cynicism is over. It's time to believe and support victims, and it's time to hold wrongdoers accountable. If you are considering speaking out about sexual harassment or misconduct, we can't promise it will be easy. Even if it just moves the ball along, however, it could very well be worth it.

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