Amid Kavanaugh confirmation process, survivors share stories

Regional Health Coordinator for Planned Parenthood Desiree Perez talks about the sexual assault allegations against Supreme Court Nominee Brett Kavanaugh. 

Survivors of sexual assault, along with supportive friends and family, gathered in front of the University Union to hold a survivor solidarity speak-out Oct. 4, during Judge Brett Kavanaugh's confirmation hearings.

Around 40 people listened for over an hour to survivors speak, while countless students also stopped for a few minutes in between classes to hear what they could.

The event was organized by Planned Parenthood and gave survivors an opportunity to publicly share their stories. One survivor was Sierra Anthony, who is currently studying sociology at Coconino Community College.

When she was 19, she was in an abusive relationship. Following an attempted breakup, her abuser broke into her house and sexually assaulted her at knife-point. She was trapped for days after that, her abuser holding her captive in her own home out of fear she would report what happened.

When Anthony finally got away from him, she reported the incident to the police and was taken to the hospital.

"It's scary to be at the hospital after that. You're surrounded by people you don't know and being asked all kinds of questions and being forced to re-live what you just went through," said Anthony.

She filed a restraining order against her abuser, which he violated. When she contacted the police, they admitted they hadn't yet delivered the notice yet. But even when they finally had, Anthony still received death threats from the abuser's friends and family.

Sexual assault doesn't always occur within the confines of a traditional relationship, as Evan Powell's story demonstrated.

Powell, a transgender, is currently a sophomore at NAU studying secondary education, focusing on history and women's studies.

When he was 11, he was molested by his older brother. Following the assault, he told his father but was met with disbelief. It left him feeling like nobody would believe him if he tried telling someone else.

Powell waited another year before finally getting the courage to tell his mother what happened, however she ended up getting angry with him for not coming forward sooner.

Those reactions made him felt like he was the one at fault, and that he was a victim. Powell wanted people to know that survivors like him were not the true victims.

"The victim isn't the one truly being dehumanized, the perpetrator is," said Powell. "When they commit these acts, they are dehumanizing themselves."

All of the survivors shared their stories in the hope that those deliberating over whether to confirm Kavanaugh will hear their voices and deny the nomination.

Desiree Perez, Planned Parenthood regional health coordinator for northern Arizona, stated she had seen this already begin to happen, and was pleased with Senator Jeff Flake's recent willingness to listen to survivors.

"I think that there's a cloud over Brett Kavanaugh's nomination, and I think we should be demanding that our senators listen to survivors and believe them, and reject his nomination," said Perez.

On Friday, Oct. 5, the senate will hold a test confirmation vote for Kavanaugh before moving toward the final vote on Saturday.