The Christine Blasey Ford Quote That Will Stay With You

It reflected both her background in psychology and her trauma.

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Surrounded by men who have gone on the record to say they don't believe her, Christine Blasey Ford painstakingly recounted for the Senate Judiciary Committee an experience from 1982 that, Dr. Ford says, compelled her to come forward. "I am terrified," she admitted frankly, surrounded by cameras and flanked by lawyers. Telling her story, she noted: "Indelible in the hippocampus is the laughter." Her voice cracked.

Dr. Ford had been asked about her most vivid memory of what she claims was a sexual assault at the hands of almost-Supreme Court justice Brett Kavanaugh, which the judge denies. (It's worth mentioning here that forcing a survivor to relive their experience can be detrimental to their mental health, even in a supervised psychiatric setting.) Bracing herself, Dr. Ford responded: "The laughter."

Patrick Leahy, the Democrat asking Dr. Ford questions at the time, asked her to elaborate. "Indelible in the hippocampus is the laughter," Dr. Ford said. “The uproarious laughter between the two. They’re having fun at my expense."

Dr. Ford added: “They were laughing with each other...I was underneath one of them, while the two laughed...Two friends having a really good time with one another.”

Perhaps Dr. Ford's observation is so potent because she is a renowned professor in psychology. Her observation about the hippocampus isn't pulled from thin air—it's a topic she knows intimately. (The hippocampus, for the record, is whether memory and emotion are thought to be stored.)



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Dr. Ford went on to describe how trauma fixes itself to that part of the brain for the Senate Judiciary Committee: "Trauma-related experience is locked there...Other memories just drift," she said.

Dr. Ford has many other memories of the experience, she said—but this one, this in particular, stayed with her. It speaks to the shame that many survivors feel—shame imposed on them by socialized victim-blaming, by their own trauma, by a system that routinely fails them. It speaks to the humiliation of not just being violated on the most basic level, but feeling degraded in every way—psychologically, emotionally, spiritually. Even with her vast experience in the field of psychology, even with all she knows about how the brain processes trauma, Dr. Ford's visible emotion reveals that there is no overcoming that "indelible" feeling, regardless of how much time has passed.

Watching the hearing, people everywhere—survivors and otherwise—were left heartbroken by her brave and unforgettable testimony. Dr. Ford has been described as a patriot, an American hero, and capable of things that are beyond most people.

Yet, even if her testimony is what fells Kavanaugh and stops him from taking a seat on the highest court in the land, Dr. Ford had to re-traumatize herself in front of the entire nation to do so. Once again, a women's pain is being utilized in a way that does not benefit her, and—as is viscerally obvious watching the testimony—is actively, terribly, painful.


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Jenny Hollander
Digital Director

Jenny is the Digital Director at Marie Claire. A graduate of Leeds University, and a native of London, she moved to New York in 2012 to attend the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism. She was the first intern at Bustle when it launched in 2013, and spent five years building out its news and politics department. In 2018 she joined Marie Claire, where she held the roles of Deputy Digital Editor and Director of Content Strategy before becoming Digital Director. Working closely with Marie Claire's exceptional editorial, audience, commercial, and e-commerce teams, Jenny oversees the brand's digital arm, with an emphasis on driving readership. When she isn't editing or knee-deep in Google Analytics, you can find Jenny writing about television, celebrities, her lifelong hate of umbrellas, or (most likely) her dog, Captain. In her spare time, she also writes fiction: her first novel, the thriller EVERYONE WHO CAN FORGIVE ME IS DEAD, was published with Minotaur Books (UK) and Little, Brown (US) in February 2024 and became a USA Today bestseller. She has also written extensively about developmental coordination disorder, or dyspraxia, which she was diagnosed with when she was nine. She is currently working on her second novel.