Coons Challenges Senate to Have a Greater Awareness on Sexual Assault

Delaware Democrat said his phone was ‘blowing up’ with stories of sexual assault

Sen. Chris Coons, D-Del., read #WhyIDidntReport tweets on the Senate floor. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)
Sen. Chris Coons, D-Del., read #WhyIDidntReport tweets on the Senate floor. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)
Posted October 4, 2018 at 4:01pm

Sen. Chris Coons took to the Senate floor Thursday to acknowledge survivors of sexual assault.

“If I could make one request it would be that we come out on the other side of these last few weeks with an awareness,” the Delaware Democrat said.

Coons was the leading Democratic voice in the compromise with Arizona Republican Jeff Flake to begin the FBI investigation into Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh, who has been accused of sexual assault.

In his plea, he barely mentioned Kavanaugh or accuser Christine Blasey Ford but focused on other women who have shared stories with him since Ford came forward with hers.

Watch: Trump’s Remarks on Sexual Assault Have Been All Over the Map

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“They were not looking for anything … they were simply looking for acknowledgment,” Coons said. “They were looking to share something they’ve carried too long alone. They just wanted to be heard.”

He said the Senate and all Americans can take his moment as an opportunity to listen to survivors.

“[We] need to show we can and will do better and I hope we will listen,” he said.

The hashtag, #WhyIDidntReport, dominated Twitter last week after President Donald Trump said Ford would reported something at the time if her allegation against Kavanaugh were true.

“These stories are difficult to hear but important that they be heard. It is important in understanding why survivors stay silent,” he said. “Why the president and others are wrong when they say that if a victims allegations are true, she would have filed a report or come forward decades ago.

Coons said his phone was “blowing up” during Ford’s testimony.

“I got texts, I got instant messages, I got phone calls, I got emails … from more ways that you could connect with me than I knew was possible. And these were stories,” he said. “Powerful stories.”

These messages were from friends and people he barely knew alike.

A female cancer survivor, who is Coons’ friend, told him she was raped as a child and living with the effects has been harder than battling cancer.

A male high school friend of his told him about when he was assaulted while on a school trip in Mexico.

“He is right. She is right. They are not alone,” he said.

He read some tweets with the #WhyIDidntReport hashtag and got choked up when he read that a counselor told a woman she wouldn’t be believed because she wasn’t pretty.

Just last night, at a dinner in D.C., a woman shared with him her daughter’s story.

“To the friends and the acquaintances …  I simply wanted to say this, you have touched my heart deeply, I hear you and I thank you,” he said.

Watch: Democrats on FBI Kavanaugh Report: ‘Why Shouldn’t All of America See the Facts?’

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