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House Candidate Recounts Story of Abuse in Ad Spot Timed to Air Before Oscars

WASHINGTON — If this year’s Oscars are anything like the Golden Globes, presenters and honorees are sure to address the MeToo and Time’s Up movements.

While the fete reflects the cultural moment, a candidate for a Chicago area congressional seat plans to air a spot during E!’s Academy Awards pre-show, in which she talks about her own experience being abused when she was a girl.

In the spot, Sol Flores talks about building a chest in art class back in 1984: “I was 11, and I didn’t tell anyone that a man living with us would come into my bedroom when I was asleep and lift my nightgown. Well, I filled that chest with the heaviest things I could find and I put it against that door to wake me up so I can fight him off.”

She also posted a longer version of her story in an online video.

Flores is the founding executive director of La Casa Norte, a community group serving homeless youth and families. She is running against Jesus “Chuy” Garcia, a Cook County board commissioner, and Richard Gonzalez, a Chicago police sergeant.

In an interview, Flores said that “one of the things I am trying to get through to voters is not just the issues I care about but the type of person I am. I thought it was important that I had a very traumatic childhood experience, but that I am more than the trauma, more than a victim, and that I have survived and thrived.”

Flores said that they originally wanted to air the spot during the Academy Awards on the local ABC-owned affiliate, but were told that it was the Academy’s policy not to have political ads run during the ceremony. A spokeswoman for the ABC station group could not immediately confirm whether the request had been made. Broadcasters are required to sell time to candidates, but exceptions have been made in the case of “unique, one-time only” telecasts of major events like the Super Bowl where equal placement can’t be offered to all contenders.

Flores’ campaign got a boost in December when she was endorsed by Emily’s List. The primary is March 20.

She said that in producing the spot, she went to the same apartment where she lived when she was a girl and shot part of the spot in her bedroom. She lived there with her mom, who was a single parent, and, despite what happened, said she also holds “amazing memories” of the place and how she decorated it with unicorns and books and Menudo posters.

She declined to identify the man, but he “would come in my room and the chest acted like an alarm.” She that the man came into her room multiple times, “more than I can count on two hands.” “I was not raped. I do not want to go into details, but I was touched inappropriately,” she said.

She said that she told her mom about her experience when she was 18. Through the years, she said,  she carried a lot of anger and by the time she was an adult, had a “different sense of self.”

“I blew up and told my mother,” she said. “She was absolutely devastated and extremely upset. It was a really traumatic time in my family.” She said that the experienced followed her for a long time, and there “were a lot of things that I had to work through,” but she began to regain her sense of self worth and pride in her late 20s.

The spot is called “That Door” and was created by Mark Putnam.

“It represents a traumatic time in my life, when I was scared and vulnerable, and I figured out I could protect myself,” she said.

She said, “Like so many other women and girls who are coming out of the shadows, I felt like it was important to do it during this major television event.” She said that it was important to share the story in a way where she could say, “This is what happened. There is no covering it up. I figured out how to take care of myself and survive.”

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