One of the victims of Sen. Heidi Heitkamp's (D-ND) shocking campaign ad, which revealed the names of sexual and domestic assault victims without their permission as part of an "open letter" to her opponent, says she's in fear for her safety after Heitkamp exposed her name and the city where she lives.
The victim, who wishes to remain anonymous (of course), spoke to KFYR-TV, a North Dakota Fox affiliate, about her ordeal.
"There are people that I'm in hiding from when these actions happened to me when I was a teenager. My name being blasted out there, you know, especially I didn't realize this until this morning that the town that I live in was also posted on this," the woman told the news outlet.
The victim added that Heitkamp is going to have to do more than make a general apology to the women named in the letter.
"None of us even knew about it until late last night or early this morning, and like I said, I don’t know what Heidi is gonna do to retract this, but a simple apology over the phone isn’t going to cut it for most of us I don't think," she said.
Several other women, who say they've suffered irreparable harm after being exposed as victims of domestic and sexual assault, say they are considering a lawsuit against Heitkamp and her campaign for causing them damage. KFYR-TV noted that a number of other women told them they were "afraid for their lives."
Sen. Heidi Heitkamp released the long list of names (which have since been redacted by most media outlets) in a number of North Dakota newspapers, as a way of hitting back at her Republican opponent, Congressman Kevin Cramer. Heitkamp claimed Cramer made disparaging remarks against sex assault victims, and that her "open letter" to Cramer was a way of pointing out his lack of care.
Many of the women say they never gave Heitkamp permission to use their names as "signatories" on the letter. Other women listed say they don't understand how they made it in the ad since they aren't actually victims of violence.
Heitkamp attempted an apology on Wednesday. “We recently discovered that several of the women’s names who were provided to us did not authorize their names to be shared or were not survivors of abuse,” a sullen-looking Heitkamp told reporters. “I deeply regret this mistake and we are in the process of issuing a retraction.”
Heitkamp's campaign added that they assigned the task of gathering survivors' names to a low-level aide, who was supposed to work with victims' advocacy organizations to get the women's permission. That aide has now been fired.