Editor’s note: this article contains information sexual assault, which may be triggering for survivors.

Earlier this summer, Christine Blasey Ford woke up to the news the man who had sexually assaulted her more than 30 years ago had been nominated to be a justice on the Supreme Court of the United States — something she feared would one day come. Unwilling to sit by, she wrote an anonymous letter explaining the sexual assault to Democratic lawmakers, urging them to not allow Brett Kavanaugh to be nominated. However, her story was denied by Kavanaugh and her words, “twisted”. On Sunday, Sept. 16, Ford decided to publicly speak to the Washington Post about her assault.

Since Ford came forward, there have been calls by Democrats to stop the confirmation process until the assault was investigated, or to move on with the voting as if nothing happened by Republicans. It was decided on Monday Ford would testify in front of the Senate committee. However, sexual assault continues to be a partisan issue.

This isn’t about Kavanaugh — President Donald Trump’s second appointee to the Supreme Court — or the political events that unfolded previously, leading to this moment. This is not about the Court leaning one way or the other ideologically. This is about a woman being sexually assaulted and people taking sides because of their political affiliation. Sexual assault should not be a partisan issue and needs to stop being used as a political weapon.

In America, one out of every six women have either been sexually assaulted or raped, according to the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network, so it is not impossible or unlikely Ford was sexually assaulted. She, like many other survivors, have chosen to stay silent because repercussions of coming forward can be traumatizing, and don’t always lead to justice. She faces this trauma and those repercussions now.  

Within the American justice system, the process of investigating and prosecuting sexual assault needs to change to take the survivor seriously. However, this needs to start at the top.

During the 2016 presidential election, a video of Trump bragging about assaulting women surfaced.

“You know, I’m automatically attracted to beautiful — I just start kissing them,” Trump was recorded saying. “It’s like a magnet. Just kiss. I don’t even wait. And when you’re a star, they let you do it. You can do anything[…]Grab ’em by the [p***y]. You can do anything.”

Even though openly admitting to kissing and groping women without permission, Trump was elected president, showing the national disregard for sexual assault.

Even though Ford is now testifying, the road there was filled with denials and doxing. The country is again seeing sexual assault being treated insignificantly by the highest powers of the government. How can we tell survivors they will be heard, and potentially have their perpetrator sentenced to justice if this is not true about the people who hold the most power in the country?

Kavanaugh’s confirmation is postponed until after Ford’s testimony, but the claims should be investigated because both parties believe it is the right thing to do — not because the parties are trying to push their political agenda. They need to cross the aisle and stop using sexual assault to benefit their party. Sexual assault is not a partisan issue, it is a human issue, and needs to be treated as such by those in top government positions. The Editorial Board can be reached at mpurdue@sagebrush.unr.edu and on Twitter @NevadaSagebrush.