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CNN’s Kirsten Powers: I Thought My Sexual Assault Was My Fault

CNN political analyst Kirsten Powers wrote in a powerful column in Tuesday’s USA Today that she was sexually assaulted at age 15 “and thought it was my fault.”

“It’s past time for a 1980s reckoning,” wrote Powers, whose columns appear regularly in the newspaper.

She said she was compelled to write about her assault after Christine Blasey Ford’s testimony last week against Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh. Blasey told the Senate Judiciary Committee that a drunken Kavanaugh groped her, tried to take off her clothes and put his hand over her mouth when they were high school students.

“Many people have focused on the fact that she didn’t mention the event to anyone until 2012,” Powers wrote. “As a former teenage girl in the early 1980s, this does not seem remarkable to me.

“In fact, the first time I spoke of the incident chronicled here was last week. And yet I have zero doubt of what happened and who did it to me.”

Powers wrote that she “passed out at a party after being fed all sorts of alcoholic concoctions by older boys” and woke up with her shirt off and a “popular senior basketball player” on top of her.

“Dizzy and confused, I could barely remember anything about the night before. I asked what had happened and the boy told me we had just snuggled, but he couldn’t explain why my shirt was off,” she wrote.

“A few days later, a male classmate I was close to exited the boys locker room visibly shaken. He told me this boy had bragged in the locker room that he had molested me when I was passed out. (‘Molested’ is my word. For his part, this boy chose to gleefully describe in salacious detail what he did to me while I was unconscious.)”

Powers wrote that “people can make terrible mistakes in life and learn from them and go on to make significant and important contributions to the world.” But she also said we can’t “send teenage boys the message that they can sexually assault someone and, as long as they eventually become good citizens, we will elevate them to one of the most important positions in our society.” 


The Washington Post via Getty Images

Powers added that the message to teenage girls cannot be “that attacks on their bodies don’t matter because the perpetrator is young like them” or that “their response to being attacked, or lack thereof, is what will be put on trial.”

Powers has advocated an investigation into the sexual misconduct claims against Kavanaugh. She’s also supported women coming forward, and has recognized the difficulty of doing so. 

“The way anxiety works is that when something anxious happens and triggers you ― for example, testifying in front of the entire country ― you become incapacitated,” she said last week on CNN during a break in a Kavanaugh hearing.

Blasey’s Judiciary Committee testimony resurfaced painful memories for many women. At least three C-SPAN callers shared stories of being sexually assaulted. And, on social media, the actresses Sarah Hyland and Busy Philipps revealed that they had been attacked.

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