Today, the United States Senate approved Judge Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination to the United States Supreme Court. Gina Scaramella, executive director of the Boston Area Rape Crisis Center, released the following statement in response:
“The Senate’s vote to approve Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination to the Supreme Court is a painful reminder of the work that remains to be done to ensure that those who commit acts of sexual violence—whether it is sexual abuse, assault, or harassment—are investigated properly and held accountable. It is also a reminder that we must ensure that survivors have the support they need to seek healing and justice. The debate in the last several weeks has highlighted that people of all genders who are victimized—whether at age 5, 15, 50, or 100—need access to confidential, expert, and accessible treatment and services.
“Now, we need to turn our attention squarely on the many ways in which our options for justice are too narrow to be effective for survivors of sexual violence. Even as the majority of people found Dr. Ford’s testimony not only credible but familiar, and even as it was offered as part of a job interview and not a criminal trial, the status quo stayed intact. The reports by survivors in this process were not properly investigated. This failure of accountability exemplifies two of the most significant ways in which survivors are silenced: the first is by characterizing a serious act of sexual violence as a ‘misunderstanding’ or ‘misconduct,’ when that is most certainly not the view of the survivor; the second is doubting a survivor’s report based on ignorance and myths about how people respond to trauma and how offenders respond to an accusation. In this whole process, we once again witnessed exactly what survivors are up against.
“Kavanaugh will soon be an associate justice of the United States Supreme Court, and it is almost beyond comprehension that the court will now have not one, but two, credibly accused offenders among its members. Our culture must change so that our first instinct as a society is to believe survivors, the second is to support them, and the third is to investigate and hold offenders appropriately accountable.
“Today’s vote shows the urgent need for social change. We need the public to better understand that the systems meant to offer justice rarely do for survivors. One in three women, one in six men, and almost one in two people who are transgender experience sexual violence; the number who will see justice as it is currently defined in our criminal legal system is only a tiny fraction—even when they report. So, the current criminal legal system is not the magic solution, and we need to get serious in building pathways for justice as survivors define it.
“We are nowhere near where we need to be, but the road forward is becoming clearer. We are making progress, and nothing and no one can roll it back.”