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Kavanaugh hearings have more sexual assault victims coming forward

ST. LOUIS, MO — Protesters rallied outside the Kansas City office of Missouri Senator Roy Blunt Friday (Sept. 28) to oppose the Supreme Court nomination of Judge Brett Kavanaugh. The sexual assault accusations against Kavanaugh come in the wake of the #MeToo movement as more women and men across the country come forward to share their stories of sexual assault.

Cindy Malott, a crisis intervention supervisor with the YWCA Metro St. Louis, said heavy media coverage of events like the Kavanaugh hearing make it hard for people to escape the conversation. The constant discussion can be triggering for some people and cause them to remember events from long ago. Those thoughts may disrupt their lives today.

The National Sexual Assault Hotline reports a 201 percent increase in calls Thursday due to the Senate Judiciary Committee hearing.

Much of the discussion surrounding the Kavanaugh case stems from the age of those involved at the time of the alleged encounter and whether one can and should be held accountable for something they did as a teenager decades earlier.

In her 30 years working with victims of sexual assault, Malott said she has seen change for the better when it comes to the way victims are treated when they speak up, but there is still room for improvement. She said it is important to have conversations with children at an early age about boundaries.

"If we're teaching that early on, that, I think, is the first step," said Malott. "What we're exposed to when we're young has a lot of impact on how we continue to develop our relationships as adults. So I think the earlier we start those conversations and expectations for respect and healthy boundaries, I think the more we’re going to really have a serious impact on the issue in general of sexual violence."

The YWCA Crisis Line is available 24-hours a day at 314-531-7273. The YWCA main office may be reached at 314-645-4848.