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Lawmakers Who Survived Sexual Assault Demand Halt to Kavanaugh Hearings

Katelyn Burns

Members of the U.S. House of Representatives who survived sexual assault and domestic violence called for suspending Brett Kavanaugh's confirmation hearings.

As Christine Blasey Ford testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee regarding her allegations of attempted sexual assault against U.S. Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh on Thursday, several members of the U.S. House of Representatives who survived sexual assault and domestic violence called for suspending the hearings in order for a full FBI investigation to be conducted.

“As victims of domestic and sexual assault, we write to express our deepest concerns regarding your actions and various statements on the serious allegations that have been raised concerning Judge Brett Kavanaugh and his possible elevation to the highest court in the country,” read the letter, penned by five representatives and directed to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY). “There appears to be more respect and consideration given to Judge Kavanaugh’s reputation and career, rather than to the welfare of the accusers.”

The letter went on to call on Trump and McConnell to issue a formal apology to both Ford and Deborah Ramirez, whose own allegations against Kavanaugh came to light over the weekend. “We further request fair and impartial consideration of Dr. Ford’s testimony, proper balancing of her story with Judge Kavanaugh’s testimony, and the postponement of any votes on Kavanaugh until all allegations have been properly investigated,” it said.

Rep. Alma Adams (D-NC), one of the letter’s signatories, told Rewire.News in an interview that identifying herself as a survivor was just part of her job representing her constituents. “I certainly didn’t have any reservations, I don’t think,” said Adams of signing onto the letter. “I think [being] a public official gives me a platform …. But I think people will respond, and I think people will also say I’m just as human as anybody else.”

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Adams went on to recount her own experience with the criminal justice system as a survivor. “One thing about Ohio … is they have a night prosecutor,” said Adams, who said her sexual assault occurred sometime around 1980. “[First] I drove myself to the hospital, and then went straight to the night prosecutor. I was getting all kind of calls from [my domestic abuser], and I was more scared than anything.” Adams told Rewire.News that prosecutors eventually convicted the man who abused her.

Rep. Gwen Moore (D-WI) was not as lucky in court. “I went to court and I was on trial,” said Moore, who opened up to Rewire.News about her experience in the judicial system decades ago. “I had had a baby out of wedlock … and that’s what I was reminded of when I saw that prosecutor there today questioning Dr. Blasey Ford. I was on trial and of course he got away [with it].”

The fact that women are often put on trial when they make a sexual assault allegation is why women don’t come forward, according to Adams. “That’s probably why people don’t want to come forward. You’re already humiliated from the experience and then to try to get out and protect yourself and get a fair hearing, things tend to be reverse.”

It’s not often that elected officials are open with their own sexual trauma, and both women thought that a letter like the one they signed today wouldn’t have been possible a decade ago.

Moore still remembers the first time she opened up publicly about her assault. “I was in the state senate … [and] I was debating and filibustering on the floor about payment to a voucher school provider in Wisconsin who had been convicted of rape and sexual assault,” she said. “I started having some traumatic recollection of my own experience and realizing that I had to move from victim to victory at that moment. And my confession did stall out [the] bill to pay him.”

Despite believing in second chances, Moore said she has no regrets about her actions that day. “I believe that you deserve a second chance, but you don’t need to be a principal at a school if you’re a rapist. Certainly not a Supreme Court justice.”

UPDATE: This story has been updated to clarify a quote from Rep. Alma Adams.

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