Woman named in Heitkamp ad: 'Damage is done'

Woman ID'd as abuse survivor without permission

By CNN'S DAN MERICA CONTRIBUTED TO THIS REPORT.
Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

North Dakota Democrat Sen. Heidi Heitkamp

(CNN) - A woman who was identified without her permission as a survivor of abuse in a campaign ad for Democratic Sen. Heidi Heitkamp said Thursday she doesn't know what the senator "could do that would make it better."

Lexi Zhorela, a 24-year-old self-identified liberal from Bismarck, North Dakota, opened up about being in the ad to CNN's Erica Hill on "New Day."

"I don't know what she [Heitkamp] could do that would make it better," Zhorela said. "I know that's why a lot of the people in this situation are reaching out to seek legal counsel because of, you know, what she did is wrong."

She added that she thinks "it's very reckless" that Heitkamp didn't read and approve the document before it was published. "Somebody messed up," she said.

Earlier this week, Heitkamp, looking to slam her Republican opponent, Rep. Kevin Cramer, for suggesting "tough people" do not identify with the national conversation around sexual assault and the treatment of women, ran an open letter to Cramer to show him "what prairie tough looks like."

The letter featured over 120 names at the bottom, but several women, including Zhorela, have come forward to say they were either included without their permission or were not survivors of "domestic violence, sexual assault, or rape," as specified in the letter.

Heitkamp issued a personal apology to the women on Tuesday.

"You know, the names that didn't want to be out there are already out there for the world to see. You can't really retract that, the damage is done," Zhorela said.

Heitkamp's office told CNN Thursday that they planned to reach out to Zhorela, something Zhorela said she was already told before.

Zhorela previously told CNN that she no longer plans to vote for Heitkamp. On Thursday, she stuck to that position, telling Hill that "as of right now, she definitely lost my vote."

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