In light of the recent election and the stratification occurring among those living in the United States, it is important to make people’s voices heard. In this interview, I speak with a sexual assault victim about her experience and take on this election. The victim chooses to remain anonymous.
How did you react to the recording of Donald Trump talking about sexual assault?
My family and friends very well knew that this millennial was following the election, as I am quite vocal with my views. Being the only democrat in my family is never easy. The audio of the Billy Bush and Donald Trump hit and everyone was asking me questions, but I avoided the video. Trump was always—and still is—relevant in the news and I was tired of getting angry at what he said. However, watching the video was inevitable. I was scrolling through Facebook and there was that dreaded audio. He talks about how he’s a star and how he could do anything. It was hard to contain my feelings when listening to the audio; it felt like a dagger. As a woman, especially one who has experienced sexual assault, it’s hard to hear a man say all these inappropriate and vulgar things so unapologetically. He treats women like an object, not a human. He overlooks the fact that if you don’t have consent, it is rape. He dismisses the comments as “locker room talk,” justifying a violation of someone’s space. If someone who violates others is President of the United States, it shows that this behavior is fine and that victims should just accept it.
What was your reaction to the twelve women coming out and saying they were sexually assaulted by Donald Trump?
Twelve brave women came out and told the world their nightmares. People in return said they were lying, shut them down, and didn’t give them the time of day. Many of the victims were underage and all too scared to tell anybody. Donald Trump allegedly threatened to disrupt them and their families, and his title and money scared them. I thought it was amazing that they came and told their stories knowing the spotlight may be cruel. Trump isn’t going to be on a new television series; he’s going to be our President. They aren’t doing this for attention, but rather to help others avoid becoming a victim. The victims don’t want their predator to become their voice, and they especially do not want the predator to be the one who represents their country. We condemn these girls for finally telling their stories and say it’s just because they don’t like Trump or want attention. Instead of perpetuating such an incredibly unjust rape culture that keeps victims quiet, why don’t we hear them out and let them tell their stories?
Can you tell me about your personal experience with sexual assault? Why did you choose to keep it a secret?
Bear with me—this is my second time ever telling this experience. I used to spend the night at my best friend’s house every week. Her sister was kind and always happy to see me. Her mom always had food ready and snacks for us. My best friend was perfect. My only issue was her dad.
It was 6th grade. I was only 13 years old. Her father would massage and touch me in places I knew weren’t right. At night when his daughter was asleep he’d put his fingers in me. I knew it was wrong, but also knew I couldn’t say anything. I didn’t want my best friend to wake up, I didn’t want anyone to know. I thought it was my fault he was doing it, like I put his hands their but I knew I didn’t. However, I still blamed myself. I didn’t want to lose a friend and even a family that I loved dearly. Eventually, I stopped going over there because I was afraid of him. I thought “why worry anybody?” People had it worse than me—I wasn’t raped but I was touched sexually. I just didn’t want to bother anybody. I always put it in the back of my head, kept it bottled up, and kept it from everyone, even myself. I always felt guilty for not telling my mom, who made me promise I’d tell her if anything ever happened to me. I didn’t want her to tell the police or try and talk to him. I finally told my boyfriend of four years what had happen. I thought he’d be angry for not telling him; but instead he held me, told me I was brave, and apologized for that ever happening to me. He was supportive and told me that I was strong, but I still feel weak for never telling anyone.
What do you want sexual assault victims to know? What advice would you give them?
There is no playbook on how to handle sexual assault. I didn’t know what to do, and everyone handles it differently. It’s important to talk to someone. It’s not good to keep it in, especially for how long I did. Please know that it is never your fault. Please do not blame yourself. No matter the degree of the assault, it is not okay to think your case is unimportant. You deserve the best. I thought because I wasn’t raped or kidnapped that I would be fine. I didn’t want any attention on me. I knew people had it worse, but violation is violation. No one is going to judge you.
If someone tells you about an experience they had with sexual assault, be understanding and calm. Never accuse them of lying or just call it play. It took a lot of bravery for this person to tell you, and they are looking for someone to care and listen. I know it’s hard not to freak out. It’s a lot to take in. But it also is a lot to tell someone.
Need help? Visit RAINN’s National Sexual Assault Online Hotline or the National Sexual Violence Resource Center’s website.