After coming forward to testify against Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh in September, Christine Blasey Ford has kept a relatively low profile. However, on Wednesday, she returned to public view to honor lawyer and former gymnast Rachael Denhollander and introduce her as Sports Illustrated’s Inspiration of the Year.
Denhollander was the first woman to accuse former USA Gymnastics doctor Larry Nassar of sexual misconduct, and it was her lawsuit that prompted hundreds of other gymnasts to speak out. Nassar was sentenced to decades in prison after Judge Rosemarie Aquilina heard the testimonies of hundreds of victims who had survived his abuse.
In a short video, Ford acknowledges how Denhollander’s courageous first step toward justice encouraged many women to follow suit.
“I am honored to speak to you from afar about a woman I admire so much, a woman who suffered abuse as a vulnerable teenage athlete, who found the courage to talk publicly to stop the abuse of others,” she said. “Her courage inspired other survivors to end their silence and we all know the result.”
Ford became a symbol for many assault victims herself when she alleged that Kavanaugh had attacked her at a party when they were both in high school. She gave powerful testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee in a hearing that rocked the country and ignited a nationwide conversation about sexual misconduct.
Despite her accusation, Kavanaugh was confirmed to the Supreme Court on Oct. 6. Ford has said little since then, revealing only that she and her family have received multiple death threats in the time that followed. Still, it seems the chance to recognize Denholldander moved her to tiptoe back into the national spotlight.
“Rachael Denhollander, I am in awe of you and I will always be in inspired by you. In stepping forward, you took a huge risk and you galvanized future generations to come forward, even when the odds are seemingly stacked against them,” Ford said. “The lasting lesson is we all have the power to create change and we cannot ourselves to be defined by the acts of others.”