SANTA ANA (CBSLA) — After a week of dramatic Senate testimony from Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh and one of his accusers Christine Blasey Ford, survivors of sexual assault across the country and here in Southern California are finding the courage to speak up about their own experiences.
In Santa Ana Sunday, women and men held up signs and photos of Ford calling her an "American hero," encouraging people to vote out Republicans in the November midterms, a contingent of whom is seen as recalcitrant in the face of multiple accusations against the federal judge.
"I don't know many women or many people that would put themselves through that if they weren't telling the truth," Kelsey Brewer told CBS2 News. She was among the many victims of rape and sexual assault who shared their stories Sunday.
Last week's Senate hearings compelled Kim Nguyen to talk about her own experience of sexual assault in college years ago by posting it on Facebook. She had never told her family about the incident.
"Someone screenshotted [sic] it and sent it to them, so I had a very hellish week on top of everything else that was going on," said Nguyen.
Notwithstanding the momentum of these stories coming to light, Nguyen said she does not have faith in the FBI investigation into the allegations against Kavanaugh announced by the White House.
Others, like Brewer, remain more optimistic. "I think that the FBI's investigation is what all survivors deserve," she said.
Republican Mike Simpfenderfer, who is running for California's 58th Assembly District, said he is glad about the probe, but like many others, reiterated that his belief that Ford was, in fact, assaulted all those years ago does not necessarily mean her alleged abuse was perpetrated by Kavanaugh.
"I do believe something happened to her. The question that we're gonna hopefully start to get answered, 'Did it involve him?'" said Simpfenderfer. He is running as an advocate for victims of sexual assault, two of whom are his own daughter and his sister. His opponent is incumbent Democrat Cristina Garcia, who, as a leading figure of the #MeToo movement, faced her own allegations of sexual misconduct earlier this year. Garcia was cleared of an allegation of groping brought forth by a male Capitol staffer.
Many of Kavanaugh's detractors have already been critical of the investigation, saying it will be limited and the Friday deadline suggested is not enough time to do a thorough job, and Simpfenderfer agrees with the latter.
"If they're gonna have a problem, they need to let him know now so they can decide how to handle it," said Simpfenderfer.
Donald Trump tweeted he actually wants the FBI "to interview whoever [sic] they deem appropriate, at their discretion." On Sunday, he continued to deride Democrats, saying whatever tack the agency now takes will "never be enough."
Trump adviser Kellyanne Conway on Sunday said she is a victim of sexual assault as she defended Kavanaugh, adding the whole ordeal is "partisan politics."
Kavanaugh has categorically denied ever having sexually assaulted anyone. Deborah Ramirez has also accused Kavanaugh of sexual assault, saying he forced her to touch his penis at a party while both were students at Yale University. CBS News reported the FBI will speak to Ramirez as part of its inquiry.
Ford, a professor and research psychologist at Palo Alto University, claims Kavanaugh pinned her down and attempted to rape her as one his friends watched during a high school party in the 1980s.
CBS2 reached out to the FBI regarding the investigation, but the agency said questions need to go through the White House.
for more features.