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In her opening address to the Senate Judiciary Committee, Mr Ford, 51, sometimes struggled to get her words out as she said she had never wanted to appear in public. Rather, she said she was there was from a sense of duty to provide testimony about Donald Trump’s nominee for the Supreme Court.
“I am terrified. I am here because I believe it is my civic duty to tell you what happened to me while Brett Kavanaugh and I were in high school,” she said.
Ms Ford, a professor in California, then went onto explain the details of a party in the 1980s she attended at which Mr Kavanaugh and his friend Mark Ford were present. She knew the boys because she and classmates from all-girls Holton Arms high school, often mingled with local teenagers from the all-boys high schools in the area.
She said Mr Kavanaugh and Mr Ford – both visibly drunk – had pushed her into a bedroom and Mr Kavanaugh climbed on top of her.
“Brett groped me and tried to take off my clothes. He had a hard time because he was so drunk, and because I was wearing a one-piece bathing suit under my clothes. I believed he was going to rape me. I tried to yell for help,” she said.
“When I did, Brett put his hand over my mouth to stop me from screaming. This was what terrified me the most, and has had the most lasting impact on my life. It was hard for me to breathe, and I thought that Brett was accidentally going to kill me.”
She added: “Brett’s assault on me drastically altered my life. For a very long time, I was too afraid and ashamed to tell anyone the details. I did not want to tell my parents that I, at age 15, was in a house without any parents present, drinking beer with boys. I convinced myself that because Brett did not rape me, I should be able to move on and just pretend that it had never happened.
“Over the years, I told very, very few friends that I had this traumatic experience. I told my husband before we were married that I had experienced a sexual assault. I had never told the details to anyone until May 2012, during a couples counselling session.”
Ms Ford said the impact on her life had been akin to post traumatic stress disorder. “I struggled academically, I struggled in college forming new friendships, especially new friendships with boys,” she said.
In response to a question from Democratic senator Patrick Leahy, she said the thing that would stick with her the most about that evening, was the two boys laughing at her. “I was underneath one of them and they were laughing at me,” she said.
Questioned by lawyer Rachel Mitchell, on behalf of the Republican senators, Ms Ford was asked if she had been drinking that night.
“Not at all,” she said. “Were you on any medication?” Ms Mitchell asked. “None at all.”
Ms Ford was asked by Democrat Dianne Feinstein about a theory – pushed by the White House – that she had mistaken the identity of her attacker. Ms Ford said it was not possible.
“The same way I’m sure I’m talking to you right now. Basic memory functions. And also just the level of norepinephrine and epinephrine in the brain that sort of, as you know, encodes that neurotransmitter encodes memories into the hippocampus so the trauma related experience is locked there where as other details kind of drift,” she said.
Ms Feinstein added: ”So what you’re telling us is this could not be a case of mistaken identity?“
“Absolutely not,” said Ms Ford.
Democrat Dick Durbin asked her about her level of confidence she had been attacked by Mr Kavanaugh. She said: “100 per cent.”