By Kristina Rex, WBZ-TV

BOSTON (CBS) – On the day of highly anticipated testimony in front of the Senate Judiciary Committee in Washington DC, 50 to 60 protesters gathered in Government Center to voice their support for Dr. Christine Blasey Ford.

Ford has accused Supreme Court nominee Judge Brett Kavanaugh of sexual assault at a party when the two were in high school. On Thursday, she testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee about the alleged assault.

Protesters gather in Government Center to support Dr. Christine Blasey Ford. (WBZ-TV)

During the hearings, a group of sexual assault survivors and their allies gathered outside of the John F. Kennedy building in Boston with one message: that they believe Dr. Ford.

The group wrote “I Believe” in permanent marker on their own hands, and stood with their palms up to express their support.

A handful of survivors stood up in front of the crowd and told their own stories. That group included Effie Aartema, who told her story for the first time in public in 11 years. “I think [Dr. Ford’s] bravery is what compelled me to finally come forward and say something,” she told WBZ News. Aartema said she was raped by a schoolmate in her freshman year of college.

Protesters wrote “I Believe” in support of Dr. Christine Blasey Ford. (WBZ-TV)

The very public testimony about an alleged attempted rape can have a serious impact on sexual assault survivors, according to Sharon Imperato, the Clinical Innovations Projects and Training Director at the Boston Area Rape Crisis Center. The effects can be “just complete numbness, not being present in your day, to having flashbacks and nightmares, and it can really go anywhere within that,” she said.

Imperato was not present at the Government Center rally, but weighed in on the environment and hearings to WBZ.

“To be really honest what’s happening right now is [survivor’s] worst nightmare,” she said. “They’re really worried that people are going to judge them and not believe them, and unfortunately that’s what’s playing out right now.”

The group at Government Center called for a formal FBI investigation into the charges against Kavanaugh.

If you or someone you know has been sexually assaulted, you can call the rape crisis hotline at 800-841-8371.


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