Skip to main content
Sexual Assault

What the Kavanaugh allegations mean to sexual assault survivors

By October 3, 2018April 6th, 2022No Comments

Dr. Christine Blasey Ford’s decision to tell her story of sexual assault survival to the Senate Judiciary Committee on September 27, 2018 has sparked many survivors to come forward with their stories as well as come out in support for her bravery in sharing her story. As the hearing took place, hundreds of protestors formed a mass mobilization inside and outside the Senate office building to support Dr. Ford and “#CancelKavanaugh”. The supporters of this movement came dressed in black with the words “Believe Survivors” written on a piece of tape covering their mouth and written on their hands. These supporters, survivors and non-survivors alike, came to urge their senators to vote no on Kavanaugh’s nomination to the Supreme Court. Dr. Ford’s story resonated with many survivors, and has even sparked survivors to share their story with the world. To these survivors, Dr. Ford’s story is important in light of the recent “Me Too” movement. This movement has sparked an uprising of voices that speak against sexual assault and sexual harassment. Not only was Dr. Ford’s testimony important for Senator’s to hear, it was also important for the world to hear. The public has used the Me Too movement to spread knowledge of survivor’s stories, expose those who did wrong, and encourage other stories to be told.

Sexual assault can occur at any time in a person’s life, and often takes weeks, months or even years to disclose what happened. Every victim’s story is different and every victim faces a unique set of circumstances that may inhibit them from sharing their experience with anyone. For many victims, that is the reason Dr. Ford’s testimony was so powerful, it exemplifies how it is possible for a victim to stand strong with his/her story even when the events happened years ago. The testimony also showed how hard it is for victims to come forward, and what kind of scrutiny they may face in telling their story. Similar to the Me Too stories that were shared by many celebrities, these cases involve revealing information about a powerful person in society and discusses matters that most people would rather not bring up. Dr. Ford stood strong with her story of events and faced the members of the senate judiciary and the world who may see her as a liar. Regardless of the specifics of this allegation, the message behind the “believe survivors” movement is important. It is so easy to ignore victim’s testimonies as false and for many years society has been telling these victims that their stories don’t matter. For once, society is standing with survivors, even if that means standing against a Supreme Court nominee. These supporters stand with Dr. Ford, and stand against Brett Kavanaugh, not for political reasons but because they encourage believing survivors stories.

For many college students, this message to believe survivors is especially important. Many of the supporters who participated in the mass mobilization were college students. These students represent the future, and they want a future where sexual assault survivors are protected and supported by society, rather than being assumed a liar by society and encouraged not to come forward. If you are a college student who survived sexual assault and want legal support, please contact our office.

Shan Wu

Author Shan Wu

Shan’s professional and personal background gives him a unique understanding of academic institutions and the criminal justice system. A former federal prosecutor in Washington, D.C., he is at home in D.C. Courts and very familiar with all of the Washington, D.C. law enforcement agencies, especially the Metropolitan Police Department. His parents were university professors so he grew up in a university environment. He understands the mindset of academic institutions. As a prosecutor, he supervised in the misdemeanor crime section. This is the section of the Washington, D.C. prosecutor’s office that handles most college student cases. His understanding of charging decisions and how judges view these cases is invaluable to his student clients and their families. Shan served as a federal prosecutor in the United States Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia for over ten years. During his tenure there, now Attorney General Eric H. Holder, Jr. appointed him to supervisory positions in the Misdemeanor Trial Section and also in a police corruption task force. His outstanding legal work in the government was recognized through numerous Special Achievement Awards from the Justice Department as well as awards conveyed by law enforcement agencies and community groups. From 1999-2000, Shan served as Counsel to Attorney General Janet Reno, advising her on criminal and civil investigations, E-Gov, E-Commerce (electronic signatures, internet gambling, internet telephony, privacy & public access issues in electronic court filings), congressional oversight, and legislative review. His responsibilities included serving as liaison to the FBI, DEA, Criminal Division, Executive Office of United States Attorneys, National Institute of Justice, and White House Counsel’s Office. Shan serves on the D.C. Bar Association’s Hearing Committee of the Board on Professional Responsibility and is a past president of the Asian Pacific American Bar Association for the Greater Washington, D.C. area. He is a 1988 graduate of Georgetown University Law Center, where he graduated Order of the Barristers, edited two law reviews, and was Co-Director of the Moot Court Program. He holds a B.A. in English Literature from Vassar College as well as a Master’s Degree in Creative Writing from Sarah Lawrence College. Following law school, he clerked for the late Hon. Jerry Buchmeyer, U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas, and the late Eugene Wright, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. He is admitted to practice law in the District of Columbia and Connecticut.

More posts by Shan Wu
Skip to content