The response reflects a nearly yearlong trend, since the #MeToo movement started trending, with an estimated 20 percent increase in calls, according to KCSARC.

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Since the start of Thursday’s hearing on a sexual-assault allegation against Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh, the King County Sexual Assault Resource Center (KCSARC) received roughly triple its normal volume of calls, and not the normal calls, either.

“We always get calls saying, ‘I never told anyone about this’,” said Executive Director Mary Ellen Stone. “Those are the calls dominating our line now. And they are mostly women in their 60s and 70s. We had a call from someone in their 80s.”

The strong local response to testimony from Kavanaugh’s accuser, Christine Blasey Ford, before the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee has been echoed across the country, including a doubling in the volume of calls to the National Sexual Assault Hotline. More than 20 million people watched the hearings live.

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At the King County center, that attention translated into a spike in the typical 10-15 calls a day, to about 40. “It’s one call after another after call after another. It’s been going on since yesterday morning, late into the night, and picked up this morning,” Stone said.

The response reflects a nearly yearlong trend, since the #MeToo movement started trending, with an estimated 20 percent increase in calls, according to KCSARC.

Ford’s testimony especially resonated with older women who had previously remained silent because of its “everywoman” quality, Stone said. “The reasons for not telling haven’t changed. What’s changed is there may be fewer repercussions.”

“We really don’t see those numbers going down,” said Laurel Redden, a spokeswoman for KCSARC. “Some victims disclosed their assault for the first time, others were struggling with memories and feelings they thought were settled.”

Seattleite Natalie Letona, 29, said she watched some of the testimony of Ford and Kavanaugh, but grew frustrated reading Facebook comments about the hearings. She said a man sexually assaulted her years ago, and she has been healing from it since.

“A lot of people commenting don’t seem to understand that even though it may have happened years ago, it still affects you,” said Letona. “I can’t even imagine how she [Ford] felt.”

She said she would not have reported the incident to police if not for the support of her family. “It still affects me to this day,” she said. “It’s something that you can’t get rid of. It’s something you have to live with.”

Seattle’s Crisis Connections had not seen an increase in calls specifically related to the Kavanaugh hearings, but several callers have reportedly mentioned the hearings. Last year the hotline received around 119,000 calls, but Dipti Chrastka, director of Crisis Connections, expects more calls for this year.

“For some people this may be a trigger,” Chrastka said. “So they relive their trauma, they may feel anxious and then things might escalate. I am thinking with this current political situation we will have more calls this weekend.”

KSARC’s 24-hour Resource Line can be reached at 888-998-6423. Crisis Connections 24-hour hotline is 866-427-4747 and the National Sexual Assault Hotline is 800-656-HOPE (4673). 

Staff reporter Asia Fields contributed to this report.