District 8 alder candidate Juliana Bennett released a statement Wednesday morning condemning a Facebook post made by her political opponent Ayomi Obuseh.
In a now-deleted post, Obuseh denied claims made by an unnamed individual saying that they experienced sexual assault.
“It’s appalling to hear someone claim to be ‘survivors’ of sexual abuse when they aren’t or using it to humanize themselves and gain empathy from others who don’t share those experiences,” Obuseh wrote. “If you don’t share that experience YOU ARE BLESSED.”
According to Bennett, Obuseh’s now-deleted Facebook post was likely about her. Both candidates made guest appearances at a Badger Votes Forum Tuesday evening, where Bennett spoke on her own experiences with sexual assault and shared her plans to prevent sexual assault on campus.
When asked about improving resources for sexual assault survivors by a viewer at the forum, Bennett responded that as a survivor, she felt compelled to make the campus a safer place.
Obuseh made the Facebook post in question shortly after the event.
“I’m saddened and appalled by anyone, let alone my opponent, gaslighting my experiences as a survivor. Such rhetoric is extremely harmful,” Bennett stated. “1 in 4 women at UW have experienced sexual assault, yet only 1 in 11 cases are reported. Most reports are truthful, but many don’t report for fear of not being believed. My fears were realized last night.”
In a statement to The Daily Cardinal, Obuseh responded to Bennett’s statement, saying that the post was made in reference to someone else — an individual she believed was falsely implying to have experienced domestic abuse. As a survivor of sexual abuse herself, Obuseh apologized for the post and said that it was reactionary.
“When I wrote those words, it was because I was deeply hurt by my own experiences,” Obuseh said. “I [felt] as though someone was doing something that wasn’t ok. It was never directed towards my opponent.”