Content warning: This post discusses and describes sexual assault.

Last weekend I got a devastating email from my friend and fellow founder/CEO Esther Crawford. After nearly 17 years of silence and weeks watching loved ones dismiss Christine Blasey Ford’s story, she finally felt she needed to come forward and talk about the sexual assault she experienced in college…one that she had never share the full details about before.

Part of what’s moving in her post—and so many others like it—is the clear-eyed memory of what happened, who did it, and an easy-to-understand rationale for why she has stayed silent for so long. Easy to understand unless there’s a biased reason you don’t want to, that is.

From the piece: “I was drugged and sexually assaulted by a 22-year-old frat guy. One of his friends heard me repeatedly say no and watched as the guy forced his d*ck into my mouth anyway.

I imagine if either of them were asked today about that night they would say, ‘It never happened.’

There were only three of us in the room — one guy would have to admit to assaulting me (unlikely) or the other guy would have to admit to being a complicit witness (unlikely).

I could name a handful of people who were at the party that night, including my friend pictured above, but I’m not sure any of them would remember it now or back me up because it was 17 years ago and it was a normal, unremarkable evening. For them.

I can’t say if it was on a weekday or weekend. It was before I used Google calendar and before social media had saturated our lives so I don’t have any corroborating digital or physical evidence of the party.

I should be a believable witness — after all, I’m an educated CEO of a venture-backed startup, and I have a lifetime of friends, family members, colleagues and investors who could speak to my credibility and character…

…I have no reason to lie, and nothing to gain by sharing my story…except to prove this one point: so many of us who are sexually assaulted go decades before speaking up.”

I am so furious that so many of us have lived almost the exact same story and, yet, we live in a country where that crime simply is seen as something to be dismissed as ancient history if it happened in high school or college. Worse: The new anti-#metoo campaign that somehow men’s lives are being ruined by an outbreak of false attacks.

Esther’s piece is yet another account of the “why” behind the data that false accusations of sexual assault are incredibly rare.

The smears against Blasey Ford and women who have the bravery to come forward is disgusting. And yet, look at the female leaders in the tech world like Marissa Mayer and Sheryl Sandberg who cautioned during the #metoo movement that men might feel so oppressed that it would create a bigger backlash. Concern trolling and cool girlism at its best: Give men the talking points while you say you are only concerned things will get worse for women. To those women I say: Nothing is worse than staying silent. Nothing is worse than being dismissed when you come forward.

And let’s be honest about the ramifications: A couple months in the career penalty box and a seat on the Supreme Court. Only Harvey Weinstein and Bill Cosby have faced real consequences. The emotional hand-wringing over a, say, Billy Bush losing his job for “a mistake” is the height of privilege. A woman’s psyche, mental health, autonomy over her own body, her life—all disposable. But the next step in a white man’s career? HOW DARE YOU?

Women like Christine Blasey Ford and Esther Crawford are heroesfull stop. They have nothing to gain from coming forward, in fact, they have a lot to lose. Any ally to women should have only one thing to say to them: Thank you.

Thank you, Esther. And I’m so sorry. I’m so sorry for all of us who lived this and haven’t been able to say anything until now.

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