John's Notebook: A week of anguish

It was a week of anguish in Washington. The storm showed on the spent faces of Christine Blasey Ford, Brett Kavanaugh and Jeff Flake.

Across America, people were wrung out too, just from watching. Witness to one racked account stacked on another. Each an expert on their pain — 100 percent certain. And the only certainty was that only one could be right.

The woe accumulated: Kavanaugh's daughter praying for Ford. Ford calling lawyers from the Walgreens parking lot, so that even 36 years later, her parents wouldn't find out. The high school calendars the judge kept to be more like his dad, and Ford's dispute with her husband over adding a second door to a renovation because the attack left her scared of enclosed spaces.

The arena added to the anguish. The world's great deliberative body handled society's toughest questions with the nuance of a freight train. Partisanship shattered the dish that is supposed to cool the hot cup.

At the end of this drama there will be no winners. And yet.

Calls to sexual assault hotlines have increased 200 percent since Ford's testimony. Senators on both sides and even President Trump deemed her credible. It is now the default in America that accusers must be treated seriously and respectfully. Now, only the willfully ignorant don't know why women don't report abuse.

This means my daughter will live in a better world than her mother, who like thousands of others was inspired to explain why she didn't report — a collective act last week that transformed what had been a wound into a walking stick.

There is more anguish to come from this drama, but the culture has changed: a week of public anguish will mean less private anguish in the future.