William & Mary Journal of Race, Gender, and Social Justice


Susan Ayres


During the Senate Judiciary Committee Hearings on the nomination of Brett Kavanaugh as associate justice of the United States Supreme Court, Christine Blasey Ford testified regarding an alleged sexual assault by Kavanaugh that had occurred thirty-five years earlier. Although some viewed Blasey Ford’s testimony as a doomed repeat of Anita Hill’s testimony during the hearings on the nomination of Clarence Thomas, one significant difference was that the Kavanaugh hearings demonstrated an increased public awareness of the impacts of trauma. And just as senators hired a prosecutor trained in trauma-informed lawyering to question Blasey Ford, today’s lawyers must understand how trauma impacts the victims they represent. In fact, studies indicate that sexual abuse of girls is correlated with their recidivism in the juvenile justice system, and the ABA has called for trauma-informed advocacy for children and youth. The importance of trauma-informed advocacy for all victims cannot be overstated. In learning to empathize with the unspeakable horrors of trauma, this Article argues for the incorporation of narrative and poetry as effective and efficient teaching tools for trauma-informed advocacy.