President Donald Trump showed restraint for exactly five days before tweeting about the sexual assault allegations against his Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh and calling out accuser Dr. Christine Blasey Ford by name.
The president then targeted Dr. Ford, a private citizen, and tried to cast doubt on her allegations: "I have no doubt that, if the attack on Dr. Ford was as bad as she says, charges would have been immediately filed with local Law Enforcement Authorities by either her or her loving parents. I ask that she bring those filings forward so that we can learn date, time, and place!"
I have no doubt that, if the attack on Dr. Ford was as bad as she says, charges would have been immediately filed with local Law Enforcement Authorities by either her or her loving parents. I ask that she bring those filings forward so that we can learn date, time, and place!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 21, 2018
Dr. Ford told the Washington Post that she didn't tell her parents at the time of the alleged attack. Her reaction is actually very common among survivors of sexual assault. There are several reasons survivors might wait to come forward, or don't come forward publicly at all, including being traumatized, fearing they won't be believed (which is bearing out right now), and fearing the perpetrator will retaliate.
Kristen Houser, MPA, of the National Sexual Violence Resource Center and Pennsylvania Coalition Against Rape, told Refinery29: "[Not reporting] is a normal response in trying to regain control over your life, because to report it to someone else requires that you trust they’ll be responsible with that information."
According to a 2017 report by the American Academy of Pediatrics, teenage girls are less likely than adult women to seek immediate medical care after being assaulted and less likely to press charges. The report also found that only around half of high school-aged survivors tell someone about their attack. When a victim knows their assailant, they are even less likely to report to authorities.
Trump's defense of Kavanaugh is not a surprise. The president, who's been accused of sexual misconduct by 19 women, tends to side with the alleged abusers. Among them: Bill O’Reilly, accused of sexual harassment; Mike Tyson, a convicted rapist; the late Roger Ailes, accused of sexual harassment; former White House aide Rob Porter, accused of domestic violence; former Alabama candidate Roy Moore, accused of child molestation and sexual assault; and even former President Bill Clinton, accused of sexual assault and harassment (at least until Trump ran for president and changed his tune to what was politically convenient).
Kavanaugh's allies will stop at nothing to protect him. Some, like Washington Post columnist Kathleen Parker, have actually gone so far as to question whether Dr. Ford may have mistaken Kavanaugh for someone else.
Ed Whelan, president of the Ethics and Public Policy Center and one of Kavanaugh's most prominent friends, bizarrely decided to publicly identify another Georgetown Prep student as Ford’s possible assailant. In a now-deleted Twitter thread, Whelan posed a conspiracy theory complete with floor plans and a Kavanaugh lookalike, while accusing an innocent person without any evidence or a victim statement.
Dr. Ford dismissed the theory, according to the Post. "I knew them both, and socialized with [the other classmate.] I even visited [him] when he was in the hospital," she said. "There is zero chance that I would confuse them."
Despite death threats and being forced out of her home after coming forward, Dr. Ford has said through her lawyer that she's willing to testify before the Senate next week. She also wants the FBI to investigate the allegations. The White House and most of the Republican leadership are opposed to the latter.