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You might have seen my story in the news: In my current town, in a podunk part of Washington State, I was driving down the street and saw a yard where a man was standing next to a “Hillary for Prison” sign and a “Trump/Pence 2016” sign.
I vocally support Hillary Clinton online and for 18 months I’ve been trolled constantly for it. In the moment that I saw him standing there, my passion for this election and all that I've endured as result of it overtook me. I'd never seen the man before, yet he was the living embodiment of every Trump troll who had ever tweeted me an insult. I'd had it with continuously suppressing my voice just because a man might not like it. My body reacted before my brain did as I brought my car almost to a complete stop. I honked the horn to get his attention, gave him the finger, and drove away.
Never did I imagine it would ever be more than just that one small moment, that safe and protected act of protest. I was wrong.
He got into his vehicle, hit the gas, and chased me down the street, riding my bumper by mere inches. I flagged down a police officer to help me and recorded the whole incident on my phone.
It went viral:
Fast forward a week: Trump-supporting internet trolls have sent me death threats, looked me up to call me slurs like “kike,” threatened to kill or gang-bang me, suggested calling bomb threats in to my son’s school, and put photos of my children in memes promoting incest. Someone created a Twitter parody account for me and posted my home address, a photo of my house, and the phone number for my landline. They've sent Chinese food and pizzas to my home, signed me up for magazine subscriptions, filled out personality tests in my name for the Church of Scientology. They are trying to ruin my life any way they can.
At this point, I’ve started the process of protecting myself, because I don’t know what’s going to happen next — how serious these people are, or what could happen to my family. I’m so afraid of what might happen to me that I decided to contact the FBI because I’m not getting any help from my local law enforcement anymore. In fact, that’s the only reason I feel safe telling my story now in my own words. Up until now, I hadn’t left my house in days and I sent my children to stay at my ex-husband’s house.
All of this because I gave the wrong guy the finger from my car.
Now, good, bad, or indifferent, was it mature? Was it an elevated level of discourse? No. But it’s the safest way for a Hillary Clinton supporter who happens to be female to express her opinion these days.
For more than a year, I’ve been harassed on social media by men and the women they subjugate because I don’t like Donald Trump. I think one of the reasons my incident has gone this viral goes back to Trump himself. This whole incident just speaks to the deep-rooted, ugly misogyny in this campaign, and how Donald Trump has made it OK to victimize women just because they don’t support him, like when he brought up Rosie O'Donnell's name in the debate on Monday, saying she deserved what she got. The fact that misogyny and cyber bullying were brought up at the debate is huge — hearing Mrs. Clinton talk about it means it should be a national discussion.
And I believe, with all of my heart, any other political candidate — Jeb Bush, Marco Rubio, even Ted Cruz — and his supporters are not going to go online and find me just to call me a kike. They are not going to chase me down, bumpers inches apart, in real life.
But this is not a normal election, not a normal candidate, and not a normal fan base.
I grew up in New Jersey and I’ve lived in Manhattan, so I’ve seen many a passionate disagreement. I’ve lived in a lot of major metropolitan cities. I’ve been flipped off in traffic, and yet somehow I didn’t chase the person for two miles; I just flipped them back, and everyone somehow went about their day.
99.9999 percent of the time, that’s what happens when somebody flips you the bird — that’s what people do. And if you can find me a human being who has never used that finger, I’ll give you a bazillion dollars, because that’s what the finger’s for, and that’s why we all use it.
I own my part in this incident 100 percent, and I say to everybody: Had I known what would happen, I wouldn’t have done it. I would have kept on driving. I pass that house every goddamn day, and this was the first time I had ever seen him standing there. I was on my way to get my kids from school, and I had just gotten offline from yet another round of trolling from these people who can’t let you have an opinion because you’re a girl. So I reacted.
But when a woman does react, or when she does voice her opinion, everything becomes a very targeted threat to her sexuality, her appearance, her fuckability — that misogyny is all tied into that. It has nothing to do with her intelligence or her achievements.
And that’s why there is no difference between the way I’m being treated right now — especially on Twitter, with people asking why I don't just shut my mouth — and the way my candidate, Hillary Clinton, is being treated. Hillary and I are the same. They are doing to me what they do to her. They’re afraid of me, they’re afraid of my power, they’re afraid of my intellect, they’re afraid of my voice.
As I’ve sat in my home for days out of fear, thinking about this election, I’ve realized that during this entire campaign, the only women who are putting themselves out there for Clinton are established, famous women who have PR firms to protect them, lawyers to protect them, and a system in place so that people can reach them only up to a certain point. No regular citizens put themselves out there like this. Aside from the people who go to the rallies and the people who do the phone banking, we support her from the privacy of our secret Facebook groups and from behind our screens on Twitter, because we’re afraid of the real-life ramifications.
To me, that’s not OK. Trump supporters do all of this bullying from behind their computers, but they won’t come at you in real life because they’re pussies — which is great — until it’s your reputation that is ruined by them. I’m unemployed right now, and I’m broke, and I’m looking for work. So as I write this, anybody looking for me on the internet thinking that they might hire me is going to see “maniacal woman.” If I ever want to earn a living ever again, I have to get my story out there, which is why I’m telling you this here.
Because even the police don’t believe me.
While I may be in the Portland, Oregon, area, I live in Vancouver, Washington. Out here in the Couve, as it’s called, or Vantucky, as some people like to call it, the white cops are not my friends, even if I’m a white woman. I later found out that as the man from the yard was chasing me, he called 911 and said that I instigated a road rage event because I pulled into his driveway and I yelled at him and gave him the finger. I did not pull into his driveway. I was on a public street, so already the cops were biased against the woman in the red car with the Hillary Clinton sticker.
In the video, you’ll see it too: The longer the guy in the other car talks, the worse it is for me, because when two men have a discussion about a woman that she is not privileged to, her narrative is forever changed, regardless of what she says in her defense.
And that’s why I started recording, considering what happened in our country last week, when unarmed black men are getting shot by cops all too often. No, of course I didn’t think I was going to be shot, and I didn’t think anything bad was going to happen to me once we were pulled over, but I absolutely felt my life was in danger until I had that cop’s attention.
To make matters worse, the cop would not honor my obvious fear, panic, and terror from the get-go, and that was upsetting. But I figured when he came back to the car he would actually take care of me. When he didn’t, then I was angry, and I was upset. Not only did he not help me, he asked me what did I expect? What would keep me from hitting someone? That's a suggestion of violence. That shows to me that the police are looking to escalate the situation. Because you don’t shame the victim, especially while she’s in the moment of being victimized. He might as well have said, “Why did you wear that short skirt? Why did you have that third drink? Why were you walking down that street? Why did you join the military and want to serve with men?” It’s all the same victim-shaming, and if I were a man in that situation, no one would have said that to me.
It's still happening. And it's imperative to share my side for anyone going through it too, or who will. They use the words “unhinged” and “crazy” to belittle me and revictimize me. Because I was scared and I was angry while female.