Editor’s Note: Jennifer Taub is a professor at Vermont Law School. The views expressed here are solely hers. View more opinion articles on CNN.
We both were raised with conservative politics and attended elite prep schools. We both are religious, with deep faith and a belief in God. We both attended Yale in the mid-1980s. We both, aside from occasional binge drinking, worked hard in school and wrote for the student newspaper. We both studied at Cross Campus Library. We both managed to get into top-tier law schools. He Yale, me Harvard. Although we shared similarities, I do not recall ever meeting him at Yale.
But there is one place where our similarities end, and that has made all of the difference in our lives. While Brett Kavanaugh appears to have moved fluidly from his beer-drinking prep school days into his beer-drinking college years, I was not as fortunate.
In early fall of my freshman year at Yale, I was raped by an upperclassman. Until that moment, I had expected to maintain my virginity until I was married, or at least until I fell deeply in love. Some of the details are forever seared into my memory, like they were in Christine Blasey Ford’s.
Like Brett Kavanaugh, whose adolescent calendars have become an object of national attention, I have kept detailed records of my life. Instead of a calendar, I have a diary. In it, I kept sometimes daily recordings of my feelings, thoughts and what went on in my life from the age of around 14 until my early 40s.
I now have several shelves of these mostly clothbound journals lined up in chronological order. Some are covered in floral prints, others with stripes, complex patterns and solids. Though on rare occasion, maybe once a year or so, I make an entry now, it seems that my daily Facebook posts are a substitute.
This week, I did something very hard. The day before Christine Blasey Ford and Brett Kavanaugh went before the Senate Judiciary Committee, I climbed up on my swivel chair in my home office. Balancing precariously, I reached up to pull down a stack of diaries and searched until I found the one. I don’t think I have ever reread this entry before. The date was in late September 1985. The early morning after.
Some of those details set out in my scrawling script mirrored ones seared in my brain. My memory, after more than 30 years, was accurate. But there were additional details that I had not remembered. This included what and how much we were drinking that night. It also included how I got home.
This was the hardest part to relive. After he was done, he told me, you need to leave. But he did not want to walk me home. It was very late, and by then the gates closest to my Old Campus dorm were locked. He knew that. So, he told me I should climb over the fence. Fortunately, I ran into some new friends (remember, I had just started as a freshman) as I left his dorm and they walked with me to the main gate where we could gain entrance.
After this man raped me, I may have told a couple of friends. Maybe the ones who walked me home. I still am not sure. But I did not tell my family until several years later. I told them, I think, when I learned in my latter years at Yale that this guy had done the same thing to other freshmen (my memory here is vague, but if I recall correctly, he may have been reported to the school sexual assault grievance board). I felt incredibly guilty for not reporting him. I blamed myself. Again.
I keep thinking this week about Congressman Eric Swalwell’s response to President Donald Trump’s criticism of Christine Blasey Ford.
The Congressman tweeted: “It’s NOT her fault. It’s NOT her fault. It’s NOT her fault. It’s NOT her fault. It’s NOT her fault. It’s NOT her fault. It’s NOT her fault. It’s NOT her fault. It’s NOT her fault. It’s NOT her fault. It’s NOT her fault. It’s NOT her fault. It’s NOT her fault. It’s NOT her fault.”
Reading that tweet, I began to cry. Because it was then that I really understood for the first time that what happened to me was not my fault.
Watching Thursday’s hearing reopened so much of that trauma. I managed to stay even-keeled, though, because I did what I know how to do best. I wrote. I live-tweeted and made 237 separate entries from gavel to gavel, covering the full hearing.
What I believe now is that Brett Kavanaugh lied yesterday under oath. He lied about the drinking age in Maryland during his senior year in high school. He lied about the crass expressions on his yearbook page. And he also lied about having a perfect memory notwithstanding heavy drinking.
I know the name of the boy who assaulted me. I looked him up the other day. He is working at a prominent law firm. It appears that he has had a successful career. I have no reason to disrupt his life, even though mine has been upended, even after all these years.
But you had better believe if his name is put forward for a high-level government position, I will speak out. There is one caveat to this. If he sees this, and recognizes the story, it would be really healing for me, could change so much in my life, if he would reach out and just apologize.