I'm a Sexual Assault Survivor, And Donald Trump's Presidential Campaign Has Traumatized Me All Over Again

If it hurts you too, you are not alone.
Publish date:
October 18, 2016
rape, sexual assault, 2016 Election, Donald Trump

Trump: "I grab women's bodies."

Woman: "Trump grabbed my body."


I've seen and heard this "joke" in many iterations since the now infamous Trump Tapes were made public. Quotation marks are in place because this election cycle is draining my usually formidable reserves of good humor, particularly since sexual assault has taken the spotlight.

I'm no longer surprised that an established problem of a man who brags about his lack of political experience has gotten this far in the race to be the leader of the free world. There are just that many people who support him, and I get that — like I get racism, sexism, or any other societal ill. I fight it, but I'm not confused about its existence.

Their staunch denial to see Trump as AT BEST sexually inappropriate with women (and far more likely a straight-up sexual predator), however, is actually blowing my mind a little bit.

Even as someone who is making the choice to not engage with every bit of political coverage out there for my own sanity, it is impossible to avoid it completely. The pat dismissal and insults levied on the numerous women who felt empowered by (what many hear as) Trump’s own admission of sexual assault and have come forward to tell their stories of encounters with him are occupying a unique place of pain and rage in my brain.

Don’t get me wrong: I’m not one of these willfully ignorant, misbegotten lost souls who’s now OUTRAGED by the Trump Tapes after having batted nary an eyelash at decades of documented discriminatory practices and behavior when it comes to race, ethnicity, religion, and also women (and age and appearance and weight and disability and...).

Yet there’s a different kind of personal chord being struck within me repeatedly by not only the man himself, but his supporters, clinging to their chosen catchphrase of “locker room talk” as though it’s a three-word Get-Out-of-Jail-Free Card.

At the very beginning of the second presidential debate, moderator Anderson Cooper very responsibly addressed the topic head-on, saying to Mr. Trump, “You described kissing women without consent, grabbing their genitals. That is sexual assault. You bragged that you have sexually assaulted women. Do you understand that?”

This is a sincere question that needed to be asked of one of the two major-party candidates for President of the United States of America. This is real life, and it makes me want to scream.

The video above is so difficult to watch, for a number of reasons.

On the rows of TV screens at the gym, in sound bites on even the most liberal of news channels, in the mouths of unfortunate family members, on social media; they’re all around us, these snatches of phrases and coded excuses for what is truly deplorable behavior, and I feel assaulted by the constant barrage of bullshit.

This is a virtual hug for anyone else who wants to shout that word, bullshit, at the top of their lungs every time Trump or one of his mouthpieces disparages or outright dismisses a woman who has made the brave and difficult choice to publicly come forward with her truth. It reaches such a frustrating rage within me because I want to yell at these people and wake them up, to tell them that they’re literally surrounded by sexual assault survivors and that their politics or blood oath with Lucifer or desperate ignorance or whatever is motivating them to defend this man is doing immeasurable harm on personal and societal levels.

We know the fallacy of pointing out someone's value as a person via their relationship to someone else, i.e. the ol' "she's someone's daughter/mother/sister/etc." song and dance, but these people are fueled by fallacy, so maybe that's a way in.

I fantasize about some sort of Rod Serling-esque world where victims of rape and sexual assault involuntarily and permanently glow red. I imagine the Deplorable Deniers continuing the bullshit excuses they make for Trump (and that many are making for themselves as well) while avoiding eye contact with their glowing red wife or girlfriend.

What if one of these windbags who's spent their week asking loudly and publicly WHY DID THEY WAIT SO LOOOOONG TO SAY ANYTHING sits down to Sunday family dinner with a glowing red mother? What if he dropped his little girl off at school that morning with no red around her, but when she comes home she's glowing red? What if she doesn't say anything because she's sad and confused and afraid? What if she doesn't say anything for 20 years because she's convinced it was her fault? Or maybe because she has a father who blames victims? That's as good a reason as any to not report a rape or sexual assault, but these shitbags can't follow the straight line of logic that would show them that they are the problem.

So I imagine the red lights showing them. I imagine them rushing through Grand Central Station on their commute through a virtual sea of glowing red women. And, because even in my fantasies assholes are gonna asshole, I imagine them still not caring.

I imagine them evaluating the looks of the red light women they encounter, in that sickening way that these wastrels persist in erroneously evaluating rape/sexual assault as an exaggerated expression of attraction or romance, as opposed to a crime of power.

I imagine them dismissing the "fat ones" and the "dogs," as their Shitlord is fond of calling many of us, even as they see all the lights glowing red. I can just hear the exhausting mental acrobatics they'd engage in to muster up subjective sympathy for their wife or mother or Very Attractive Woman glowing red — perhaps an acknowledgement that a bad thing happened to them that nonetheless comes with questions and warnings and scolding about drinking, partying, certain wardrobe choices, etc.

I picture the utter confusion and denial when a male colleague enters the boardroom glowing red himself. Or the core-disrupting denial it must take to defend Trump when you yourself have a red light.

Of course, we don't need red lights — those of us who have been victimized, who believe victims, or simply aren't living in a fugue state of sexism-fueled hatred and denial, that is.

Their subjective litigiousness and denial allow the same people who demand EVIDENCE FIRST! to support any and every allegation of everything anyone's ever accused anyone of, ever, to dismiss actual evidence when presented with it. These are Donald Trump’s own words. The Trump Tapes are not some bizarre anomaly he was goaded into saying by the scapegoated and now fired Billy Bush, they’re just a more forward example of the way he talks about women. And still they shrug it off and make excuses.

What a joy it must be to feel such power over reality! When confronted with things like rape statistics or global warming or any other thing that's real, what a trip it must be to just say, "NOPE."

I don't usually lead with the fact that I've been raped, by the way. It's a part of my life experience and therefore part of my identity, but I generally don't go around introducing myself to people as "Pia Glenn, Rape Survivor!"

This election is making me want to. It's making me want to introduce myself as such to all the bottom-feeders who've exposed themselves by supporting Trump's ascent and dare them to tell me to my face that it doesn't matter or didn't happen because I never reported it to the police. I want to tell them succinctly that I couldn't bear the questions I knew would come about why I would invite a male acquaintance up to my apartment alone after we had gone out with a group of friends. I want to tell them that I was convinced that I would be blamed, so I didn't tell anyone for a long time after it happened, because of people just like them.

I want to tell them that in recent years during the decade-plus since it happened, I've felt immense guilt in wondering how many other women this guy drugged and hit and raped in their own homes after jovially suggesting a nightcap following a group social outing. I want to tell them that even that doesn't make me regret not reporting it, exactly because of people like them.

I don't imagine I would change their minds (maybe one person’s, though?). Nor do I imagine any sort of caring embrace, because I don't think they care at all. What I want is for them to simply say they don’t.

Few things infuriate me like someone making some convoluted argument for something when their position really comes down to three words: "I don't care." These jackasses pose hypothetical scenarios to one another in spurious tones of voice like, "Well, if someone touched you, would yoooooouuuuu wait so long to say anything?" and bring up locker rooms and rap lyrics as though athletes and rappers are the ones running for president when they could simply say, "I don't care."

There've been more rap lyrics and music by Black artists on CNN and Fox News in the past week than at the BET and Source awards combined, and it's just such a ridiculous waste of time. Have you heard that Michelle Obama enjoys Beyoncé??? I don't know if you're aware, but Beyoncé is an entertainer. She really upsets conservatives, and somehow that excuses Donald Trump.

Instead of having the audacity to drag Uncle Luke into this, which is a real thing that has happened here on the dark side of the year of our Lord 2016, or bring up Beyoncé lyrics to somehow excuse Trump and even get that wrong and quote Nicki Minaj lyrics instead, just say, "Mr. Trump is a sexist predator and I don't care."

OK, that may be a bridge too far. But I do dream of a world where their only retort to allegation after allegation is "I don't care." Their attitude is already one of immature immovability. I wish they would just go full tilt boogie and say it. Speeches would be shorter, cable news shows would each be about five minutes long, and we could all go on about our business.

The hardcore Deplorables are going to stay that way, so they might as well stand in their truth and own it. They're telling us every day in their actions and policies that they don't care about us, and as much as that hurts, like any hurtful encounter, if they could just be clear about it we could know who to avoid or who needs help.

Life isn't that uncomplicated, though. We don't have red lights glowing all around us. In many cases, we only have our word. Our truth. And it matters, even years after the fact.

These men are sowing the seeds of doubt that keep many of us quiet, and the only thing worse than that is their inability to see clearly that that's what they're doing. And the women...ugh, these women who stand by Trump are the gender equivalent of "all skinfolk ain't kinfolk," and as realistic as I am about their existence, it still hurts to see them contort themselves to fit into an ideology that simply doesn't have room for them as full humans.

If it hurts you too, you are not alone. If you remained quiet after an assault, you are not alone.

If we can talk about these things now in a way we couldn't then (whenever your "then" might have been), we can remind each other that the tragedy of our group being so large in number is also our strength and solidarity.

They don’t get to judge our survival methods when they can’t even fathom what we’ve survived. Fellow survivors, we’re gonna get through this election. Many of us have already gotten through much worse.