With a public statement issued on Saturday just ahead of Brett Kavanaugh's confirmation vote in the U.S. Senate, Debbie Ramirez—the Yale classmate of the nominee who says he sexually assaulted her while in college—said that even though coming forward has been a painful experience she thanked those who have stood by her side and said the courage of all those survivors is proof that something historic has taken place.
"As I watched many of the Senators speak and vote on the floor of the Senate, I feel like I'm right back at Yale where half the room is laughing and looking the other way. Only this time, instead of drunk college kids, it is U.S. senators who are deliberately ignoring his behavior." —Debbie Ramirez"Thirty five years ago, the other students in the room chose to laugh and look the other way as sexual violence was perpetrated on me by Brett Kavanaugh," Ramirez declares in her statement (pdf). "As I watched many of the Senators speak and vote on the floor of the Senate, I feel like I'm right back at Yale where half the room is laughing and looking the other way. Only this time, instead of drunk college kids, it is U.S. senators who are deliberately ignoring his behavior. This is how victims are isolated and silenced."
But while she feels ignored by those powerful lawmakers and others, she thanked those who have stood by her—including classmates who put themselves forward to corroborate her story to the FBI but were ignored—and said, "there are millions more who are standing together" to speak out about the their experiences of sexual assault and supporting one another.
As the statement emerged huge crowds of women, sexual assault survivors, and others amassed outside both the Capitol Building and the U.S. Supreme Court in Washington, DC.
Here's a closeup of the crowd from the Capitol pic.twitter.com/J0E4VkuiQg
— Jamie Dupree (@jamiedupree) October 6, 2018
WATCH: Protesters gather at US Capitol ahead of Kavanaugh vote https://t.co/KhwP5DpqGd
— NBC News (@NBCNews) October 6, 2018
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"This is a truly collective moment of survivors and allies standing together," Ramirez writes. "Thank you for hearing me, seeing me and believing me. I am grateful for each and every one of you. We will not be silenced."
Read the full statement:
Along with the courageous testimony of Dr. Christine Blasey Ford last week before the Senate Judiciary Committee, Ramirez's decision to come forward with her story is being credited for stirring a wave of sexual assault survivors to come forward, share their stories, and demand change. And even as Kavanaugh's confirmation was almost assured on Saturday, women's right groups and progressives nationwide are vowing that the anguish and anger that has been unleashed by the callous disregard exhibited by the Republican Party (and Democratic Senator Joe Manchin of West Virginia) will not be put back in the bottle.
Yes the vote to confirm Kavanaugh today is going to confirm women’s worst fears about who runs our country. But there are millions like this woman who see nothing but potential and are ready to fight. Grateful to be here right now and, as @ilyseh says, to bear witness. pic.twitter.com/X7DdqTKRFv
— Shaunna Thomas (@SLThomas) October 6, 2018
"We are not going anywhere," said Ilyse Hogue, president of NARAL Pro-Choice America, on Saturday. "Today, we bear witness to this vote and tomorrow we organize to elect candidates who believe women and share our vision of a country that is just and compassionate and reflective to the change required for our nation."
And as Shaunna Thomas, co-founder of UltraViolet Action, a leading national women's group, declared on Friday: "This doesn’t end tomorrow. It ends in November."