For the last year and a half, the world has watched as stories of sexual assault have – at long last – come to dominate the news. We’ve witnessed the bravery of countless survivors, emerging from cages of silence, as one by one they have shared their stories in the face of incalculable pain and personal sacrifice. For the first time since our own assaults, we have seen glimmers of justice in the momentum of the #MeToo movement, as perpetrators who once enjoyed near-total impunity from social or criminal consequences have begun to be called to account.

America is home to tens of millions of survivors of sexual assault, abuse and harassment, each of whom has a desperate truth to tell. What makes us different at this vital moment? Along with Olivia Garrett of Fairbanks, Alaska, Kimberly King of Anchorage, Alaska, and Portland residents Kennedy Blain and Adrianna Tibke, we happen to be residents of Alaska and Maine – home to Sens. Lisa Murkowski and Susan Collins, respectively. Today, we are pleading with our senators to locate their humanity by opposing Judge Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination to the U.S. Supreme Court.

In a better world, our own geography wouldn’t matter. The testimony of Dr. Christine Blasey Ford this week demonstrated to a gripped nation the remarkable strength of her character and the obvious credibility of her claims. Like so many survivors, Dr. Ford came forward reluctantly, seized by terror and shame; compelled by the anxious discomfort at witnessing the man at the center of a haunted memory rise among the highest ranks of power. Hers was a story of gruesome familiarity, of devastating detail, of raw human trauma laid bare. Judge Kavanaugh’s denials told a different story – of conspiracy theories and casual lies, of anger and entitlement, of partisanship in its most vicious and naked form.

We know that the truth of Dr. Ford’s allegations is irrelevant to the vast majority of the Republican caucus, for whom politics is a game and the trauma of women is a nuisance. If their postures toward Dr. Ford and Judge Kavanaugh are any indication, these men have no reserves of humanity within themselves to call upon at this critical time. But we believe that Sens. Murkowski and Collins still do – we believe that our senators hold the capacity and courage to transcend the red-versus-blue of this moment and see plainly what is right and wrong.

We have been raped and abused, beaten and manhandled, tormented, groped, silenced – and disbelieved. Our stories are as harrowing, and as painfully common, as Dr. Ford’s. And at a moment when it finally seemed as though America may be growing open to hearing and accepting our truths, we have been brought face to face with the specter of a Supreme Court justice who seeks angrily to erase the truths of his own accuser, indignant that what he believes to be his right to a lifetime promotion is being called into question by the woman whose youth he once casually fractured. His performance before the Senate was such that the American Bar Association has now called for his confirmation process to be halted pending further investigation.

We cannot live in a country in which the future of our rights rests in the hands of a credibly accused perpetrator, a man whose recent display before Congress revealed him to be little more than a plain partisan frothing over with vengeance and rage. We hope that Sens. Murkowski and Collins understand how cruelly it would bury us – the tens of millions of us, those who have shared their stories and those who still cannot, in Maine and Alaska and in every state, every neighborhood, every workplace. To elevate Judge Kavanaugh at this moment would be so much more than just a slap in our faces. It would snuff out the faint light of hope that this moment in history has provided for survivors – the light we have gathered painstakingly, after such a long darkness.

We beg of our senators: Locate your humanity. Hear us. Hear us now. Vote down this nominee.

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