I confronted Jeff Flake over Brett Kavanaugh. Survivors like me won't stand for injustice.

Ana María Archila, Opinion contributor
Published 4:00 a.m. ET Sept. 29, 2018 | Updated 10:17 a.m. ET Sept. 29, 2018

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Women plea with Senator Flake to hear their concerns about confirming Judge Brett Kavanaugh.
USA TODAY

Jeff Flake finally called for an FBI investigation, showing the power survivors of sexual assault have when we stand together in the fight for change.

I began my week in tears, as I stood in front of Sen. Jeff Flake’s office to tell my story of sexual assault for the first time. I ended my week in rage after learning that Flake, R-Ariz., would vote to confirm Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court of the United States.

I never thought that I would share my story of assault. It happened when I was five years old, before I had the consciousness to know exactly what was taking place. Even still, I knew that it was wrong.

I told two adults at the time and they didn’t believe me. So I kept this as a secret, too afraid and ashamed to tell my parents. It has been a burden that has weighed on me greatly ever since.

On Monday, I was with the organization that I co-lead, the Center for Popular Democracy Action, and hundreds of people from across the country who came to D.C. to urge their senators to vote no on the Kavanaugh nomination.

Brett Kavanaugh is not fit to serve

Much of his record on civil rights, worker protections, health care and reproductive justice is an abomination. So, too, is his personal history of treating women as less deserving of respect and control over our lives, as these accusations against him have shown.

For weeks people have traveled to D.C. to tell their stories trying to secure and save their health care, exercise their right to vote and, more recently, survive. People came to tell their survivor stories, discuss how Kavanaugh’s judicial record would harm working people and to urge their senators to vote against the nomination.

More: I was falsely accused and my reputation was disparaged. I don’t regret fighting back.

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What messages young men hear amid sexual abuse allegations against Brett Kavanaugh

I had not planned to share my story that day. I hadn’t shared it for three decades because I wanted to protect my parents from my pain. But Christine Blasey Ford told her story to protect our country and, in solidarity with her and as a way to thank her, I decided to tell mine too.

I, like thousands of women who have chosen to do the same, are doing this in the hopes that when the senators hear our stories, they will not only believe us, but most importantly, they will use their power to help heal our country, and not further reinforce the culture that condones sexual violence by ignoring survivors.

I was counting on Flake to act with a sense of responsibility for his country and for the children who are watching this debate right now. And I was enraged and deeply saddened when I read his statement Friday morning announcing his support for Kavanaugh’s nomination to the Supreme Court.

I know that I am not alone. There are people across Arizona and across the country that have stories just like mine. Many have also shared them for the first time.

Supreme Court delay shows power of survivors

I had the opportunity to confront Flake on Friday. I reminded him that I had told my story in front of his office earlier in the week. I asked him how he could live with himself, as a father of a daughter, knowing that Kavanaugh allegedly violated a young girl.

In this time, we need a Supreme Court justice who is truly committed to justice. To the hard work of recognizing, understanding, and then repairing hurt. Someone who is willing to take responsibility for their past actions and do better in the future. That someone is not Brett Kavanaugh.

Through all of our interaction, Jeff Flake was silent. Then, he went missing from the meeting. He came back later and said that he could not vote for Kavanaugh on the Senate floor until after an FBI investigation.

His reaction shows the power that we have, together, when we chose to tell our stories and stand up for our vision of an inclusive society. When we take action, we breathe new life and possibility into our democracy.

I believe that the history of our country is one of constant struggle for more of us to be included in the promise of freedom and democracy. From the struggle to end slavery, to the fight to secure health care for all, people fighting for their lives and their dignity, together, gets us closer to bringing into existence the country where we can all be free. Let’s continue this struggle.

Ana María Archila is the co-executive director of the Center for Popular Democracy Action. Follow her on Twitter @AnaMariaArchil2.

 

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