'The Damage is Done': Abuse Survivor Rebukes Heitkamp Apology After Being Outed Without Permission

Nick Kangadis | October 18, 2018
Font Size

Whether you’re a lefty or a conservative, I don’t think anyone would condone using an alleged abuse survivor’s name without their permission to serve political purposes.

“Self-identified liberal” Lexi Zhorela, a 24-year-old woman from Bismarck, N.D., had her name publicly included in a campaign attack ad by Sen. Heidi Heitkamp (D-N.D) as a survivor of abuse - without her permission.

According to CNN:

Earlier this week, Heitkamp, looking to slam her Republican opponent, Rep. Kevin Cramer, for suggesting 'tough people' do not identify with the national conversation around sexual assault and the treatment of women, ran an open letter to Cramer to show him "what prairie tough looks like.”

The letter featured over 120 names at the bottom, but several women, including Zhorela, have come forward to say they were either included without their permission or were not survivors of 'domestic violence, sexual assault, or rape,' as specified in the letter.

“I don't know what she [Heitkamp] could do that would make it better," Zhorela said, according to CNN. "I know that's why a lot of the people in this situation are reaching out to seek legal counsel because of, you know, what she did is wrong.”

While Heitkamp claims she made personal apologies to those whose names were used without their permission, Zhorela says that it’s too little, too late.

“You know, the names that didn't want to be out there are already out there for the world to see,” Zhorela said. “You can't really retract that, the damage is done.”

Zhorela also told CNN that even though she heard that Heitkamp was going to personally apologize to each woman that was either "misidentified" or had their names used without their permission, she told CNN she hasn't received one.  CNN has footage of Zhorela claiming she hasn't received an apology on their YouTube channel. It's even in the title of the video. 

Take a look:


In today’s society, once certain information is made available to the public, there’s no turning back.

Supreme Court Justices Brett Kavnaugh and Clarence Thomas can attest to that. They’re survivors of a different kind.

To take a line from Zhorela, “The damage is done.”