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Anita Hill’s testimony mattered

May 3, 2009

Arlen Specter. Democrat? I don’t think so. Pfft.

I remember his questioning of Anita Hill during Clarence Thomas’ confirmation hearings. Should the questions have been tough? You bet. But he went further saying that her testimony was “flat out perjury”. Really? Was he there? Has he ever been in the situation that she was describing? What blatant disregard he had for Ms. Hill. Can you imagine how difficult it is to come forward and offer testimony in front of the entire nation?

It is the attitude that he exhibited that prevents many victims of sexual abuse and/or harrassment from coming forward. It is what goes through the victim’s mind over and over again as they replay every spoken word, every gesture, as they ask what they did to cause the harrassment/abuse to happen.

If you’ve never been there, you cannot understand what it does to you. You’re constantly on alert, never letting down your guard. And who do you confide in? What if they don’t believe you? That’s the worst part. Worse than the harrassment/abuse. The ones that you confide in shun you. Your vision of the world changes. There is no more trust, although you desperately try. And there are moments that you think you’ve learned how to trust again. Sometimes, you deny – to yourself and to others – just to make life some kind of normal again. Whatever that normal is. But inside is the fear that someday, someone is going to call you a liar again. Someone, because they need to comfort their mind that their loved one did not mistreat you, needs you to tell them that you were mistaken or you just misunderstood the situation. And when that happens, will you have the courage to stand up or will you shrink back and pretend that they’re right. Because it’s more important not to upset anyone else’s world even though your’s was turned upside down, right?

Many years ago, a family member told me, “I’ll go with you. I’ll hold your hand. I’ll help you speak up. I won’t let you go through it alone.” And you know, that was enough. That was all that I needed. For me, I didn’t need to do anything else. He will never know how those words changed me, and if I could thank him I would. But, he’s got his own trust issues, having been repeatedly beaten by my sister and her husband and no one knowing. I understand why he’s pulled out of associating with family. But, Richard, if you ever stumble across this, know that your unquestioning support in my darkest hours helped me enormously. I’m sorry that I couldn’t do the same for you.

Well, this went off in a way that I didn’t expect. I guess that’s what Arlen does for folks. As far as I’m concerned, he can join John Edwards in the all-you-can-eat line at the bullshit cafe.

If you or someone you know is being victimized, please visit the Broken Wings web site. Suicide prevention – someone to talk to and get help: Call Hope Line. The links to both are on the right.

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