I debated whether or not to share my experiences in regards to Trump's "pussy" comments, but as I read other women's stories I found myself sad and angry.
My first reaction when I watched the video was, why is on earth did that beautiful actress link arms with those two buffoons, who clearly were objectifying her as they sought out unsolicited hugs, and then coyly say she would pick them both when they flirted awkwardly with her.
Her reaction bothered me so much because I have been in her shoes. I was sexually molested as a child by a family member, have had a friend's father hug me and comment about how much he loved "17-year-old girls." A man once lifted my skirt up, exposing my underwear at a club while I danced. In high school, after watching me play softball a male teacher said in a suggestive tone that he had, "never seen anyone slide into home quite like that."
At 15, I had a crush on my friend's older brother. I was a freshman. He was a senior. I was a virgin. During a sleepover one night, he took me to his room, had sex with me and when he sodomized me and I said "no" he told me that he had to "teach me what guys like" and didn't stop. He bragged to his friends about what he had done and it all seemed acceptable because he was popular, came from a good family and everyone looked the other way.
When it came out that I was sexually molested by a family member, I was told to "get over it" and to move on. I was told that it was harder for a male relative, who was also molested because "he is a boy."
I was told to forgive and forget and to focus on all the good things my abuser had done. Forget that he robbed me of my childhood, created anxiety and fear and awakened my sexuality at an age too confusing to understand.
So often I have tolerated completely unacceptable behaviors because I was the one ostracized for speaking out. Or I was met with, it's just "boys being boys" or "locker room talk." In an effort to deflect the abuser's actions friends and family members labeled me as "moody," "emotional," or that I "exaggerated things."
In that sense Trump is right. He can do whatever he wants because as victims we have witnessed and seen what happens if you stand up and speak out.
You keep your mouth shut because you are afraid you will lose your job, be blackballed, and not believed.
As you heal from the trauma you are supposed to become a "survivor" and not a "victim." It's an uncomfortable conversation, so for others to feel better "victim" is removed from the language and replaced with "survivor." I guess it's more empowering to be a survivor versus victim, it certainly forces you to "move on" and "get over it."
But being a victim doesn't mean you are walking around every day dwelling on what happened or using the abuse as a crutch. "Victim" shouldn't be a bad word because it accurately describes the situation. Being a victim should instill public outrage.
But the more I read online the more frustrated I become. Educated men and women don't see anything wrong with Trump and Billy Bush's statements.
"I don't know of any red-blooded American who hasn't said that to his friends."
Or they go after Bill Clinton in defense. As if his womanizing makes it okay for Trump's unacceptable behavior. Neither of their actions are okay. It's never okay for any man or woman to do something to someone else against their will. Ever.
After reading story after story of women and men being abused, harassed, and sexually assaulted I'm horrified. I've always felt like I was in the minority as far as my traumatic experiences, but sadly, I'm in the majority.
As hard as these stories are to share, the more women and men speak out and share their stories, maybe we can change the conversation. Because until abusers are held accountable and victims shunned into silence, this behavior will continue.
"I just start kissing them. It's like a magnet. Just kiss. I don't even wait."
Would you let someone break into your home, eat your food, watch your TV, or sleep in your bed uninvited just because they liked the way your house looked?
No, you wouldn't.