Ana Maria Archila and Maria Gallagher are the two sexual assault survivors who confronted Arizona Senator Jeff Flake inside of a Senate elevator. The confrontation occurred on the morning of September 28, shortly after Senator Flake said that he would vote in favor of Judge Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination going forward to the Senate floor. Archila told Flake, “On Monday, I stood in your office. I told you of my story of my sexual assault.” Reporters were attempting to ask the senator questions when the two survivors stepped forward to demand he listen to them. The activist group, UltraViolet, said in a statement that Senator Flake is considering pressing charges against Archila and Gallagher. The statement claims Archila and Gallagher as members.
Archila went on to say, “I told it because I recognized in Dr. Ford’s story that she is telling the truth. What are you doing is allowing someone who actually violated a woman to sit on the Supreme Court. This is not tolerable. You have children in your family. Think about them.” While Gallagher said, “I was sexually assaulted and nobody believed me. I didn’t tell anyone, and you’re telling all women they don’t matter.” Gallagher then chastised Flake when she felt he was turning away saying, “Don’t look away from me. Look at me and tell me that it doesn’t matter what happened to me, that you will let people like that go into the highest court of the land and tell everyone what they can do to their bodies.”
Senator Flake later told the committee that he would to send Judge Kavanaugh’s nomination to the Senate floor with the caveat that the FBI investigate Dr. Ford’s allegation before the second vote. Flake voted in the affirmative for Kavanaugh’s nomination without confirmation that any investigation would take place.
In an earlier statement, Archila said, “Earlier this week, I shared my survivor story for the first time in front of Senator Jeff Flake’s office and I know that I am not alone. Survivors from Arizona and across the country have been flooding his office with their stories. By announcing he will vote “yes” on Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination, Flake showed us that he does not care about our truths and does not care about women. He claims to support civility, but has proven today that he would rather ignore women’s stories and support a disrespectful sexual abuser than stick to his values.”
Here’s what you need to know:
1. Archila Says that Dr. Ford Gave Her the Strength to Tell Her Parents About Sexual Abuse She Suffered
Archila, who identified herself in a New York Times interview, told the newspaper she wanted Flake to “feel [her] rage.” Archilla added that she felt Flake “looked ashamed” and “had a hard time looking us in the face. He knows that this is wrong and it sends the wrong message to my children and his children. But despite all that, he chooses party.” Archila said, “It was Dr. Ford’s story that allowed me to tell this secret to my parents. I now have to do the work of how me and my parents process the experience, and I don’t know how this is going to go.”
2. Gallagher Never Told Anybody About Her Abuse Before Confronting Flake; Her Mother Called After Seeing Her on TV
In an interview with the Daily Beast, Gallagher described confronting Flake saying, “It was all kind of a blur. We all ran after him. We held open the elevator and I just started telling him why it was important and what had happened to me and why he should not let Brett Kavanaugh on the Supreme Court.” Gallagher added, “[Flake] wouldn’t meet my eyes. It made me very angry. He kept saying thank you and I’m sorry and wasn’t taking into account what his action would be doing to millions of people and what this means for everyone.” Gallagher added that she had never told anybody about assault before and it was only after her confrontation with Flake went viral, that her mother called to talk about it.
Gallagher was also identified by the Times, although she did not provide any quotes. Cheddar’s J.D. Durkin reports that Gallagher is from Westchester, New York. Durkin tweeted that Gallagher was “visibly shaken” after her interaction with Flake. Though Durkin added that Gallagher was “incredibly proud of speaking up.”
3. Gallagher Survived a School Shooting
According to Gallagher’s LinkedIn page, she is a graduate of Ardsley High School and Northeastern University (2017) where she studied Psychology. Gallagher says on her page that she was a member of the society, Strong Women, Strong Girls. Acting Out. An article on Northeastern’s website mentions that Gallagher survived a school shooting. Prior to attending Northeastern, Gallagher had been a student at Purdue University in Indiana. In January 2014, Cody Cousins shot-and-killed teaching assistant Andrew Boldt “because he wanted to.”
4. Archila Is the Co-Executive Director of an Immigrant Advocacy Group in New York
According to the website for Popular Democracy, Archila is the co-executive director of the liberal advocacy group, which is based in New York. The group describes itself as a “high-impact national organization that builds organizing power to transform the local and state policy landscape through deep, long-term partnerships with leading community-based organizing groups nationwide.” Archila joined the group in September 2013.
A profile on Archila says that she emigrated to the U.S. from Bogota, Colombia, when she was 17 years old. An outdated LinkedIn page says that Archila was formerly the co-executive director of a similar advocacy group, Make the Road New York in Brooklyn. Archila lives in the Astoria neighborhood of Brooklyn.
5. Archila & Gallagher Are Being Celebrated as Heroes on Twitter
As news of their bravery spread across the internet, Archila and Gallagher are being celebrated as heroes on Twitter. Here are some of the most poignant messages of support: