What the 2020 election means to sexual violence survivors


Mackenzie Burchett gives a presentation during a Planned Parenthood Advocates of Kent State meeting on Feb. 21, 2020. 

Bella Hagey Reporter

Although sexual violence survivors have dealt with a president with past sexual assault allegations for the past four years, they can only expect the same thing this fall.

President Donald Trump, the 2020 Republican presidential nominee, has been accused of sexual misconduct by at least 26 women since the 1970s. 

Joe Biden, the 2020 Democratic presidential nominee, has been accused of sexual assault by Tara Reade, a former staff assistant in Biden’s Senate office, and has had eight other women come out with sexual misconduct or assault allegations against him. 

This sends a bad message to survivors, said Mackenzie Burchett, a Kent State alumna who advocates for sexual and domestic violence survivors. 

“It just kind of sends a message to survivors that we care about you sometimes, but not all the time,” Burchett said. “So I’m particularly disappointed in the Democratic Party right now for choosing a candidate with accusations of sexual misconduct.”

Burchett will be voting for Biden, but she’s doing so begrudgingly, because she has an issue with saying Biden’s allegations are not as bad as Trump’s, she said.

“He doesn’t have as many allegations,” Burchett said, “but any allegation of sexual misconduct or misconduct or sexual assault is extremely serious.”

The situation is hypocritical, said Claire Taylor, a senior psychology major and the president of the Planned Parenthood Advocates of Kent State

While so many people did denounce President Trump because of the sexual assault allegations against him, the same type of action must be taken with the allegations against Biden, Taylor said. 

“If we’re going to hold people accountable, we have to hold them accountable across the board,” Taylor said. “It doesn’t matter. It’s just because it’s the one that fits our political mindset better.”

In 2018, when Brett Kavanaugh filled a vacant seat on the Supreme Court, survivors experienced the same situation, Burchett said. 

Although Burchett was not working in the field when Kavanaugh was appointed, she found that calls to sexual assault hotlines increase when an individual with past assault allegations is appointed or elected to a political office.

“People being triggered is totally understandable in that situation,” Burchett said, “because it is opening up a lot of trauma for a lot of people. I haven’t had any survivors contact me directly and say that they were triggered by something like that, but it’s definitely plausible, and we’ve seen that happen in situations like that.”

Taylor said the fact that one of these two men with past sexual abuse allegations will become the most powerful man in America is “disheartening and it’s really harmful.”

Bella Hagey is a diversity reporter. Contact her at [email protected].


Hi, I’m Lauren Sasala, a senior journalism student from Toledo. I’m also the editor in chief of The Kent Stater and KentWired this semester. My staff and I are committed to bringing you the most important news about Kent State and the Kent community. We are full-time students and hard-working journalists. While we get support from the student media fee and earned revenue such as advertising, both of those continue to decline. Your generous gift of any amount will help enhance our student experience as we grow into working professionals. Please go here to donate.