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Book excerpt: "One Way Back" by Christine Blasey Ford

St. Martin's Press

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In September 2018, Dr. Christine Blasey Ford, a psychology professor at Palo Alto University in California, and a mother of two, alleged that Brett Kavanaugh, who was then a nominee for a Supreme Court seat, had sexually assaulted her in the summer of 1982 when she was 15 and he was 17. Her testimony during his confirmation hearings, watched by nearly 10 million cable viewers, drew strong reactions in the context of the #MeToo movement. 

In her new memoir, "One Way Back" (published March 19 by St. Martin's Press), Blasey Ford writes about the responses she received, from support by survivors of sexual assault, to death threats directed at her and her family.

Read an excerpt below, and don't miss Tracy Smith's interview with Christine Blasey Ford on "CBS News Sunday Morning" March 17! 

"One Way Back" by Christine Blasey Ford

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Most memoirs are the story of a life. This is the life behind a story.

The story happened in the summer and fall of 2018, starting on the beach in the hippie surfer town of Santa Cruz, California, and ending in Washington, D.C., with me testifying in front of the Senate Judiciary Committee. Or so I thought.

As a shy person who loathes public speaking, I had tried to avoid going public. As a mom, I had worried about the effects it would have on my children. But as a scientist, I knew I had relevant data that needed to be shared. As a patriotic citizen and someone born and raised on the outskirts of our nation's capital, I saw it as my civic duty, a responsibility to my country to participate in the institutions I had always loved and respected. And as a surfer, I knew I'd already paddled out and there was only one way I was going to get back to shore.

Let me be clear: This is not a political book. Nor is it a manual for victims of sexual assault—there's certainly no handbook that could ever cover what it takes to hold power to account.

I have lessons I learned the hard way, things I wish I'd done differently. I wish I'd known what I needed to do to push the information beyond the closed doors it was kept behind, while maintaining my safety. I wish I had been able to shield my family and friends more from the blowback.

I didn't realize that the testimony would be my only chance to share the data I had.

I wish I'd known there would not be a gradual step into the public eye, one that I could navigate on my own terms. I had lived a relatively quiet life as a mom, professor, and surfer. Quite literally overnight, I became a headline news item. With little preparation, my name would be forever encompassed by one image—me in a navy-blue suit I would never normally wear, being sworn in to solemnly tell the truth. That image told one part of the story. But a more accurate image of the person and the life that had led up to that moment would be me jumping off a rock into the ocean. Just Christine.

I had never even gone by "Christine Blasey Ford." I'd always used Dr. Blasey at work (or simply Blasey to my colleagues), and when I'd gotten married, I haphazardly changed my name to Ford on some things (Social Security) but not others (driver's license). Old friends from back East called me Chrissy. My identity was fractured, dependent on the setting. Suddenly though, it was decided for me. Without signing up for the job but wholeheartedly agreeing with the cause, I was ushered into the #MeToo movement and heralded as a symbol of the importance of believing women, all the while still grappling with my own experience and relation to sexual assault. I didn't take the enormity of the responsibility lightly, nor did I have control over it. It took on a life of its own. One thing was clear: Chrissy was gone. Going forward, I would be known around the world by this three-part label: Christine Blasey Ford.

But I was never really known. I was scrutinized, yes. Profiled, sure. Everyone seemed to have an opinion about me. But almost no one knew the real person behind the headlines, the frequently passed-around quote "indelible in the hippocampus."


From "One Way Back: A Memoir" by Christine Blasey Ford. Copyright © 2024 by the author and reprinted by permission of St. Martin's Press. 

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