I suppose it was only a matter of time before the victim-shaming started vis a vis Donald Trump’s latest debacle (why don’t we call it “Pussygate”).
I’ve spent the last week in a state of shock as I heard Trump boast gleefully about his inappropriate behavior with women. I’ve been distracted, I’ve been having panic attacks and nightmares, and it’s only getting worse.
My feelings are at a fever pitch today as I’ve read about women coming forward to allege that Trump’s “locker room talk” went way beyond words, that he actually did many of the things he boasted of to Billy Bush according to numerous women, including former People magazine writer Natasha Stoynoff.
And these women are being crucified by Trump supporters, who are making comments about the convenience of the timing, that they are shooting for optimal financial opportunity and publicity, and even one of my Facebook friends writing, “I have a hard time believing women who jump on the bandwagon 15-30 years later.”
I do not talk about the night I was raped. I have written about it here on this blog, where I have a degree of anonymity and privacy, but I still cannot talk about it.
I do not know my rapist’s last name. I do not know where he lives. I do not want to know. I have been fortunate, if you want to call it that, to fall into what could best be classified as “date rape by an acquaintance”, which means I’ve never had to see the monster again.
If the man that raped me–Tom–suddenly started running for public office, if his face was all over the news, if he was spreading hatred, I’m still not sure I would have the courage to come forward publicly. Why would I? The statute of limitations on that crime has run out, and any physical evidence is old and probably useless.
The vast majority of women (and men) who suffer sexual assault are not going to want to make it a public thing. Those that have the strength to do so immediately, you have my utmost respect, by the way. It eats me up sometimes to think that Tom has probably done what he did to me again because I didn’t go to the police (or my mother or a rape crisis center) right away when physical evidence existed, and I could have stopped it by reporting it. I didn’t have the strength, though, and I hate myself for that.
Here’s what happens in the aftermath of a sexual assault.
You have to deal with the physical first. My rape was extremely violent, and there are physical ramifications that still exist today. If you’re smart, you get tested for STDs ASAP (I was sort of smart…I did get tested, but I did not share my reasons for wanting this testing done with my doctor).
After that, you try to find your life again. This can take a long time. Sometimes I think I’m still working on it, nearly twenty years later. You crave normalcy and try to avoid at all costs anything that will bring back the rape in your mind.
By the time you get to the point where you’re “okay”, you do not want to go back down that rabbit hole. Why would you?
And so you live your life. You slowly learn to live and love and trust again. You do the best you can. Some days are better than others, and blah blah blah.
I wrote that I would probably not have the courage to bring Tom’s name forward even if he became a public figure, and I meant it.
There would, however, be one exception: if Tom was caught on a hot mic joking about raping stupid college girls that didn’t know enough not to put down their drinks, particularly if he was running for President of the United States, I would come forward. I would share my story, no matter what people might say about me.
There is no timeline for bringing a sexual assault to light, and I’d wager a guess that about 85% go unreported. However, we all have a line. That would be mine, and if Tom crossed it, if he lied about who he was and what he did to me that long ago night and how he basically ruined my life, I would still feel a moral obligation to speak up, to not let the sleazeball get away with it anymore.
I suspect Natasha Stoynoff knows that line well.
Although she no longer works for People, the magazine ran her story. In fact, People might well have been the only major publication that would run it as they were no doubt able to match up her story with a timeline of their own. Was Stoynoff a family friend of the Trumps until that day? Did her professional relationship with them change afterwards? Do the details in her story jibe with what the magazine knows?
Well, a magazine that reports on celebrities believed in Natasha Stoynoff enough to run the story, risk alienating Trump as well as other stars, and issue a statement explaining why they ran it. That would really be going out on a limb for a publication company that depends on maintaining good relations with the people they want to interview and report on.
So to all of you muttering about convenient timing and payouts, please just stop.
Living with the aftermath of a sexual assault is something no amount of money can assuage, and there is no convenient timing, only the right timing for you in your own personal situation.
That Donald Trump brought about this reaction in so many women speaks to how horrible their experiences must have been, how frightened and damaged they were, and how truly deplorable a human being he is.
He brought about the timing–and the collapse of his house of cards–all on his own.