SANTA CLARA (CBS SF) — Dr. Christine Blasey Ford accepted the 2019 YWCA Empowerment Award Wednesday — a rare public appearance since she stepped into the national limelight at last year’s nomination hearings for Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh.
Blasey Ford, a Palo Alto college professor, came forward with allegations that Kavanaugh sexually assaulted her during their high school years. She appeared before a congressional hearing, standing by her story and triggering a national controversy over Kavanaugh’s nomination.
What followed was an online campaign of harassment and threats that drove Blasey Ford into hiding after she feared for the safety of herself and her family.
“Receiving this award is particularly meaningful because of what you all do to support survivors of sexual violence,” she said. “There are many, many people who aren’t as lucky as I am. When my family was forced out of our home last year, we had resources and we had friends who made sure that we had safe places to go and stay. So many women do not.”
On Wednesday, Blasey Ford was given a standing ovation as she approached the stage at the Santa Clara Convention Center.
“I’m deeply humbled to receive this award,” she told the crowd. “It’s funny I was inspired by Anita Hill when I was deciding whether to testify, but it didn’t occur to me at the time that I would be inspiring anyone else.”
Hill came forward in 1991 and testified before a Senate committee that then nominee, now Supreme Court Justice, Clarence Thomas had sexually harassed her when she was part of his staff while he was a federal circuit judge.
Blasey Ford said she felt a duty to come forward with her allegations about Kavanaugh.
“I was focused on telling the U.S. Senate what had happened to me,” she said of her testimony. “I simply thought it was my duty as a citizen and that anyone in my position would do the same thing.”
In closing her short acceptance speech, Blasey Ford urged other sexual assault victims to “stand strong.”
“Everyone has the power to inspire others,” she said. “Be courageous, stand strong, be yourself.”