People walking of the Hart Senate building out for the #BelieveSurvivors protest


#BelieveSurvivors shows internet solidarity for sexual assault survivors

Survivors and allies are urging the nation to listen.


Samantha Grasso

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Posted on Sep 24, 2018   Updated on May 21, 2021, 5:46 am CDT

On Monday, protesters of Brett Kavanaugh‘s Supreme Court nomination took to the streets wearing all black, walking out of their workplaces and homes. The walkout, promoted with the hashtag #BelieveSurvivors, was organized to show solidarity with Christine Blasey Ford, who said Kavanaugh attempted to rape her when they were in high school, and Deborah Ramirez, who said Kavanaugh exposed his penis to her at a party in college.

The effort came after a week of right-wing criticism of Ford and disbelief of her account. Ford has agreed to testify before the Senate Judiciary Committee, and has asked that the FBI investigate her claim, and yet, Republican Senators have casted doubt on her account, stating they will advance Kavanaugh’s nomination proceedings regardless of her allegations.

Some conservatives have questioned whether Ford actually recalls the assault as she’s described it, some alleging that, maybe she was assaulted, but that it wasn’t Kavanaugh. Others have outright questioned her reasoning for coming forward more than 30 years later, as if having an assailant who is being considered for the highest court in the nation isn’t reason enough.

Critics attacked Ford, a Palo Alto University professor who has had to flee her home with her two teenage sons and pay for private security, for a week until Ramirez came forward to the New Yorker, with her account published on Sunday.

Regardless of when Ramirez came forward, protesters across the country have stood up for her and countless other survivors of sexual harassment and assault, with constituents for Maine Sen. Susan Collins and others showing up at Capitol Hill, urging politicians to block the confirmation and hold Kavanaugh accountable. Reportedly, dozens of student protesters at Yale Law School, Kavanaugh’s alma mater, also protested the confirmation, opposing a “hasty, biased, and incomplete investigation of the Brett Kavanaugh sexual assault allegations,” according to the Cut. The law school had canceled 31 of its classes in anticipation of the protests.

Since Ford came forward, and amid Ramirez’s story being shared publicly, one other woman has come forward with accounts of Kavanaugh and his friend Mark Judge assaulting women in high school and college. Michael Avenatti, Stormy Daniels’ lawyer, is representing the woman, who says Kavanaugh, Judge, and others purposely got women drunk at college parties to later assault them, with men taking turns one after the other to rape intoxicated women.

Across the U.S., people have documented their walkout efforts with the #BelieveSurvivors hashtag, sharing photos of themselves leaving their workplaces in solidarity with sexual assault survivors, and urging others to listen to these people’s personal accounts of assault and subsequent trauma.

At the Hart Senate building in Washington, D.C., protesters silently walked out with fists held up in the air. Tarana Burke, the de-facto founder of the Me Too effort, led the frontline of one of the protests.

In other symbolic moves, New York Magazine‘s website the Cut announced it would stop publishing for one hour to show it stands with women including Ford, Ramirez, and other sexual assault survivors. The National Women’s Law Center, the Human Rights Campaign, EMILY’s List, and NARAL Pro-choice America also participated in the walkout, sharing these efforts on social media.

Others leaders in entertainment moved to believe survivors, too, with the staff of TBS’s Full Frontal with Samantha Bee participating in the walkout, along with the production crew for Grey’s Anatomy. Writers’ rooms for Arrow and Legends of Tomorrow shared photos of their walkout, too. The Crazy Ex-Girlfriend writers’ room also stepped out for the effort.

Among celebrities who took part in the walkout were Jane Fonda, Kerry Washington, Allison Janney, Anna Faris, Mimi Kennedy, and Felicia Day. Emmy Rossum documented a minute of silence on her set instead of a walkout, an effort still aligned with Ford, Ramirez, and the other women who have continued to come forward with allegations against Kavanaugh following Ford breaking her silence last week.

While the walkout itself might have taken just minutes of silence, or an hour of skipping out on work at most, this moment of protest against Kavanaugh’s confirmation—promoting as radical an idea as believing in the accounts of Ford and Ramirez against a man in power—is sure to be another event contributing to the ripples of change in how the U.S. treats survivors and their assailants.


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*First Published: Sep 24, 2018, 3:33 pm CDT