Political News

Woman who confronted Sen. Flake: Abuse led to my own 'shame'

Posted October 1, 2018 4:20 p.m. EDT

— One of the women who confronted Sen. Jeff Flake about Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh on Friday told CNN that the shame she felt after being sexually assaulted had caused her to remain silent for years.

When she was 5, Ana Maria Archila says, she was sexually abused by a 15-year-old. In a joint interview with Tarana Burke, the founder of the #MeToo movement, Archila told CNN's Christiane Amanpour that she "was confused and ashamed and thought that maybe it was my fault."

"I knew even as a 5-year-old that if I shared this with my parents, they would feel pain," Archila told Amanpour.

Flake, an Arizona Republican who sits on the Senate Judiciary Committee, acknowledged to CBS's "60 Minutes" over the weekend that Archila and Maria Gallagher's decision to confront him in a Senate elevator had helped lead to his decision to call for an FBI investigation into the sexual assault allegations against Kavanaugh, which he denies.

Flake told the program that what he was "seeing, experiencing, in an elevator and watching it in committee" led him to realize that the controversy over the nomination was "tearing the country apart."

Archila described the moment she and Gallagher found Flake in an elevator and demanded that he listen.

"What the world saw and what we experienced was a total release of emotion that so many of us have been holding for weeks and weeks," she told Amanpour. "Total outrage and pain."

"In many ways, the burden has been placed on survivors to educate everyone else, including the abusers and victimizers," she added.

Burke told Amanpour that Flake's sympathies for Kavanaugh were "the epitome of white male privilege."

Flake told CBS that while it "seemed partisan," he could "understand" why Kavanaugh was angry and that he believed the judge should be given some "leeway."

"Would he (Kavanaugh) allow anybody to come in his courtroom and act the way he acted? So we have to give him some leeway? That is the epitome of white male privilege," Burke told Amanpour.