Sexual Assault Survivors Confronted Senator Who Said He Would Support Kavanaugh & Their Impact Was Huge

Sen. Jeff Flake, R-Ariz., announced on Friday that he plans to support Judge Brett M. Kavanaugh for the Supreme Court, The New York Times reports. The announcement comes on the heels of Thursdays tense hearings regarding sexual assault allegations against Kavanaugh.

The New York Times adds that Flake was confronted by protesters as he made his way to the Senate Judiciary Committee, which will vote to send Kavanaugh’s confirmation to the floor. He wouldn’t look the two women in the eyes as they described their experiences as sexual assault survivors.

“You’re telling all women that they don’t matter, that they should just stay quiet, because if they tell you what happened to them, you are going to ignore them,” one of the women said.

Flake dismissed the women and reporters who asked for his response, saying he had already issued a statement and now had to go to a meeting.

The women, later identified as Co-executive director of the Center for Popular Democracy Ana Maria Archila and recent college grad Maria Gallagher spoke out about their decision to confront Flake, per CNN. 

"I thought that he was someone who was willing to take a stand, that was on the side of justice, and I thought of him as someone who was able to recognize the humanity across political lines," Archila told CNN. "What he's doing today is saying, 'My party matters more than the stories that I'm hearing.'"

"It's not something that I ever want to or like to share with people," Gallagher, 23, also said."But I thought it was important that he knows, and that promoting Brett Kavanaugh is telling victims of sexual assault that no one wants to hear you."

As is often the case when a woman accuses a powerful man of sexual assault, many people have questioned the truthfulness of Dr. Christine Blasey Ford’s accusations against Kavanaugh, saying her timing feels a bit too convenient. Others have pointed out that this may be the best time to come forward, as her hand has been forced by the prospect of her accused attacker becoming one of the most powerful men in the U.S.

Resilience, formerly known as Rape Victim Advocates, reports that only 2 to 8 percent of rapes are false reports. According to the Rape, Abuse, & Incest National Network, only about one out of every three sexual assaults are ever reported to the police. RAINN adds that only about 0.6 percent of rapists will be incarcerated, much lower than the figures for robberies and assault and battery, at 2 percent and 3.3 percent, respectively.

The American Bar Association had urged the Senate Judiciary Committee to delay Kavanaugh’s confirmation process until an FBI investigation is conducted, CNN reports. In a letter to Senate Judiciary Chairman Chuck Grassley and ranking Democrat Dianne Feinstein, ABA President Robert Carlson said the Senate is obligated to require a “careful examination of the accusations and facts.”

When the stakes are this high, it’s unacceptable to blindly take the accused’s word in a case of “he said, she said.” As one of the women who confronted Flake said, “the way that justice works is you recognize hurt, you take responsibility for it, and then you begin to repair it.”

The fact that Kavanaugh has made it this far has already reopened painful wounds for many survivors of sexual assault. If this goes on, the damage that’s done may be irreparable.

Update: 7 p.m. EST 

On Friday afternoon Flake said it would be "proper" for the Senate to wait on the vote until after a "limited scope" FBI investigation has been conducted. 

On Friday evening President Donald Trump ordered an FBI probe into Kavanaugh's background, CNN reports. 

"I've ordered the FBI to conduct a supplemental investigation to update Judge Kavanaugh's file," Trump said in a statement. "As the Senate has requested, this update must be limited in scope and completed in less than one week."