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At the heart of criticisms against Tara Reade is a serious lack of understanding on how trauma affects people.
As a professional who has worked with trauma victims most of my career, and who trains judges, police and other professionals about it, I am concerned that this lack of understanding trauma clouds not only Reade's case, but makes it more unlikely that victims will come fwd.
Being obsessed with small details- like what part of a hallway the rape took place in- shows a lack of understanding of how trauma memories get stored in the brain.
The brain doesn't remember traumatic events in a linear, detailed fashion. It stores things like colors, temperatures, smells and sounds - sensory memories. The purpose is to alert us in the future when similar danger might be present.
Tens of thousands of years ago when our stress response systems were forming, it didn't matter exactly where a predator started chasing you. What mattered was it's color, it's smell, what sounds it made, what it looked like. Evolution made it so our brains store things like that.
Our stress systems formed before we had any idea what a calendar was. Fates and times are not part of this process. This is an ancient mechanism designed to keep us alive.
Expecting trauma survivors to have recall of details that the brain does not consider relevant is foolish. Dr. Blasey Ford explained it well when she testified before Congress about Bretr Kavanaugh.
At the time, many lauded her for her intelligence and subject matter knowledge and stood by her. Today, some of these same people are ignoring this knowledge while trying to cast doubt on Tara Reade's story, using the same responses that the GOP senators used against Blasey Ford.
Any understanding of trauma shows us that victims don't recall events in ways that are easy for people on the outside to understand. It can be frustrating for those who try to decide where the truth lies, and even more frustrated for victims who know what happened to them.
Victims of traumatic events find it hard to recall things in a way that satisfies their detractors. Using this against some victims while pretending to be trauma-informed when it comes to thers is not helpful.
Details like time and exact place may matter in a criminal proceeding, and this is why so many rape cases never see the inside of a courtroom. But the case against Joe Biden is not a criminal proceeding.
People trying to determine the veracity of the allegations against Biden need to use the same metric that they used to decide if Blasey Ford was telling the truth: is the essence of what the victim is saying true? Not "does she remember the date or exact place?".
Ultimately, the Tara Reade case is an opportunity to make us more trauma-unformed as a society. Unfortunately, it has fallen along partisan lines and mostly we are missing the boat here.
Instead of listening to the essence of what Ms. Reade has said, doubters are focusing on the details that aren't easily recalled. Ms. Reade's story of how Biden penetrated her with his fingers while pinning her against a wall has not changed.
The memories of her feeling of confusion and shock while it was happening have not changed. Her memory of seemingly innocuous details, like how the marble floor felt hars on her feet, or that the wall was cold, jave not changed.
These are trauma memories. They are not linear and they may seem scattered or irrelevant to those who are not trauma-informed. To those of us who have knowledge of trauma, they are clear indications that the essence of her story is true.
Leading researchers in the field of yrauma like Bessel van der Kolk have written and taught extensively about this. His book, "The Body Keeps the Score", is an excellent guide to understanding how trauma loves in our bodies and our memories.
The way that victims tell their stories can make it difficult for police officers who are trying to take a coherent statement. It can also make it difficult for judges and prosecutors to figure out what really happened.
As a subject matter expert in trauma and sexual violence, I have trained judges, oolice and orisecutora, in addition to thousands of other professionals, on how trauma impacts us.
I had no idea what to make of Ms. Reade's claims when I first heard about them. After listening to her full hour interview on the @kthalps podcast, it was clear to me that she sounded like ao manybither victims of sexual trauma that I have known throughout my career.
What has happened since Ms. Reade came out with her story has been tragic. News outlets have picked apart her past while ugnoring the essence of her story. Most of the people who have said that they believe Biden's denial have never listened to that full podcast.
In addition to the Katie Halper podcast (linked below), Ms. Reade has given 3 other interviews, all on camera, with various news outlets, in addition to conversations with many print outlets.
Instead of listening to her in her own words, many have chosen to dive into bews reports about landlords who said she was late on her rent, or question her truthfulness based on whether she ever owed anyone money and didn't pay it back on time.
None of these things change the fact that the essence of Ms. Reade's story about being digitally raped by Mr. Biden has not changed since she told it, or the fact that witnesses have come forward saying that Ms. Reade has told them part or all of that horrible story.
The fact that it took her 26 years to go public with this story is also irrelevant. Most victims never tell. Those that do, often tell bits and pieces along the way, like Ms. Reade did when she spoke in 2019 about how Mr. Biden touched her inappropriately.
Those who defended Dr. Blasey Ford never questioned why she waited over 30 years before coming forward, or that she couldn't remember specific details. They never interviewed her past landlords or asked old friends if they thought she was a good person.
These defenders of Blasey Ford disn't do these things because these things don't matter when it comes to understanding whether someone has suffered a traumatic event or not l. It would be fair and right if they gave Ms. Reade the same treatment.
#IBelieveTaraReade
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